Blueberries are a summer favorite. Sweet with just the right amount of tang, these tiny berries are loaded with nutrients you need. Advocates of juicing insist that drinking fruit juice gives you extra health benefits -- a claim MayoClinic.org states as "far-fetched." Blueberry juice and blueberries impart some of the same vitamins and minerals; but if optimal nutrition and weight loss is your goal, reach for the whole fruit instead.
All fruits and their juices fall under the "fruit group," as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Choose My Plate. The foods in the fruit group are low in fat and sodium, and none of them have dietary cholesterol. Eating foods in the fruit group give you essential nutrients that most Americans are lacking, such as potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin C. Like many fruits, blueberries and blueberry juice are rich in antioxidants. However, while consuming a lot of antioxidants might sound good in theory, the Center for Science in the Public Interest points out that "the extent to which antioxidants by themselves promote health is a matter of some debate." Antioxidants are not linked to weight loss, for example.
Blueberries v. Juice
The biggest difference you'll notice between blueberry juice and the blueberry itself is the number of calories you get per an equal serving. Blueberry juice is also short on fiber compared to the whole berry. An 8-oz. serving of blueberry juice gives you 100 calories. From this serving, you get 5 percent of your daily value, or DV, for potassium; and 2 percent of your DV for calcium and iron, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. A cup of fresh blueberries gives you 80 calories, as well as 14 percent of your DV for fiber and 20 percent of your DV for vitamin C. The notable difference between blueberry juice and blueberries is how many calories you get from sugar. A serving of juice gives you 18 g sugar; a cup of blueberries gives you only 7 g.
The sugar calories you get from blueberry juice are problematic. The Harvard School of Public Health indicates that fruit juices do give you nutritional benefits; however, because of the high number of calories they contain compared to other liquids, such as water, tea and coffee, you should limit your consumption of all kinds of juice. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend drinking 100 percent fruit juice, and no more than a 4-oz. serving a day. MayoClinic.org uncovers other myths you may have heard about blueberry juice and other fruit and vegetable juices. For example, proponents of "juicing" assert that removing fiber from fruit or vegetable makes your body absorb its nutrients faster, when in fact the opposite is true. Additionally, blueberry juice won't remove "toxins" from your body. Being higher in calories per serving than fresh blueberries, it definitely won't make you lose weight.
Choose My Plate recommends that moderately active adults between the ages of 19 and 50 eat between 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit a day. Choose from a variety of whole fruits to make sure you get the best nutrition, and save blueberry juice and other juices as a daily treat if you're watching your weight. The CSPI ranks blueberries as a "Silver Medalist" among fruits due to the berries' vitamin C, fiber, potassium and low number of calories per serving. From a nutritional perspective, other fruits ranked higher on the CSPI's scorecard, including guava, watermelon, grapefruit, kiwifruit and papaya.
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Consumers Warned of Web-Based Açai Scams; March 2009
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Berries
- Harvard School of Public Health: Healthy Beverage Guidelines
- RK Knudsen Family: Just Blueberry
- Weight-Control Information Network: Better Health and You