Q and A: fruit vs juice
Lots of questions come in about all kinds of things. This one from a reader with the subject line “Fruit juice is so confusing.”
Fruit juice (especially without lots of pulp) gets a bad wrap from the nutritionist community. The only nutrition based argument I can find has to do with juice containing loads of sugar and water, some vitamins, and little else. However eating fruit seems to get praise ONLY because it contains fiber. So would drinking juice and taking a fiber supplement be the nutritional equivalent to eating fruit?
Fruit has sugars but also vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nutritionists don’t worry about the sugars in fruit (or shouldn’t) because most people don’t eat much of it at any one time. We hope that people will eat more fruit, not less.
Juice is another matter. In small amounts (juice glasses were 6 ounces when I was growing up), juice contains the vitamins and minerals from fruit, but not much of the fiber. Whole fruit is a better choice. It’s also a better choice because juice is made from lots of fruit. If you eat one apple—no problem. If you drink apple juice, you could easily be consuming the sugars from six apples.
As for supplements, fiber and otherwise: they can never substitute for the full range of nutrients in foods. You are always better off eating food.
It’s summer. Enjoy the fruit.