According to Dr. Andrea Sanigorski of Deakin University in Australia, fruit juice could actually be playing a part in childhood obesity. Many parents believe that because they’re giving their kids “healthy” juice, they don’t have to limit the amount. The truth is that fruit juice contains a high amount of sugar in the form of fructose. Your body cannot distinguish between sugar from fruits and sugar from candy. Once you’ve consumed sugar, it’s all processed the same way. To avoid health problems later in life, be aware of what juices contain the most sugar so you can moderate how much you drink.
Grape juice contains more sugar than any other type of juice. Whether you make it yourself or buy no-sugar-added juice in a box, you’ll still be getting plenty of fructose. A 12 ounce glass of grape juice contains over 58 grams of sugars. This is 20 grams more than a 12 ounces can of Coca-Cola. At 240 calories per 12 ounces, it’s also the fruit with the highest caloric value.
Although it’s sometimes recommended as a good choice for toddlers and children, apple juice is quite high in sugar. A 12 ounce serving contains 39 grams of sugar -- just 1 gram less than in a glass of soda. That’s about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Although orange juice is high in sugar, it contains less sugar than grape and apple juice. At 33 grams per 12 ounce serving, it falls slightly behind Coca-Cola. However, a glass of soda contains about 145 calories, while a glass of orange juice has 165 calories. So while you’re saving about 2 teaspoons of sugar, you’re still getting more calories overall with orange juice.
While many natural juices are high in fructose, you could still do much worse. Boxed juices are rarely 100 percent juice and instead have added flavorings, colorings and sugars. Juices made from concentrate are usually higher in sugar, as they sometimes contain high-fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a boxed juice with the words “juice cocktail” on it must contain “some” juice but can also contain water, artificial ingredients and added sugars. When buying processed fruit juice, compare labels and choose the one with the lowest sugar content.
- Hooked on Juice; Sugar Content of Fruit Juice; Dave Hall; October 2006
- ABC News; Researchers Warn of High Sugar Content in Fruit Juice; Jane Cowan; March 2007
- “The Biggest Loser Calorie Counter: The Quick and Easy Guide to Thousands of Foods from Grocery Stores and Popular Restaurants”; Michael Dansinger, M.D.; Rodale Books; 2006
- “The Pocket Calorie Counter”; Suzanne Beilenson; Peter Pauper Press; 2006
- FDA: Requirements for Specific Nonstandardized Foods: Beverages That Contain Fruit or Vegetable Juice