Parents take special care in choosing the best for their children, especially when it comes to what they eat and drink. It’s not always easy to identify what’s healthy. Take fruit juice for example. Is fruit juice as healthy as you think? From what we discovered, absolutely not.
First off, the farming industry has changed a lot in recent years. Instead of replenishing the soils and rotating crops sufficiently, big farmers use chemicals to treat the soil, depleting the once abundant nutrients that transferred through our foods. You would have to consume nearly a bushel of today’s apples to equal the nutrients in a single apple grown fifty years ago.
If you haven’t noticed, our society has a fixation with over-processing our foods and pasteurization. Remember—processed foods are commercially prepared foods that have been altered from their natural state and designed for ease of storage and consumption. Translation: it’s not good for us. Once processed, most juices only have a hint of nutrients left in them. Nutrient levels that do exist in the fruit greatly diminish from the time that it was harvested to when it goes into someone’s refrigerator in juice form. Juices reconstituted from concentrates have even less nutrients.
Ever wonder why orange juice from the store tastes so consistent in their flavor (Insert your favorite name brand orange juice here)? It’s not because they find the best oranges. They create their own signature tastes, artificially. The process of creating orange juice includes placing the fruit in large vats and stripping them of oxygen. Eliminating the oxygen increases the shelf life up to a year, without spoiling. But stripping the oxygen also strips the flavor, so what do they do? They create “flavor packs,” which aren’t listed in the ingredients, because they’re technically derived from “orange oil.” So even though it says 100% juice on the label, it’s also artificially flavored.
Keep in mind that many juices have more than just flavor added to them. When you see “fortified with vitamins and minerals,” that’s called a “functional food,” and it’s a big business. Your milk is fortified with vitamin D and many juices are fortified. Americans spend billions of dollars a year on functional foods. Translation: we killed the natural nutrients and replaced it with our own version.
Most fruit juices are also high in fructose, a simple sugar commonly associated with obesity, especially in children. Even though it’s better than high fructose you find in soda (which your body can’t process), it still goes straight to the liver. When was the last time you sat down and ate ten apples in one sitting? Well that’s the concentration of sugars you’re ingesting with a single glass of store-bought juice.
The fact is, if you’re going to drink fruit juice at all, the best alternative is to squeeze it yourself. You can control the process, dilute it with water if needed, but you’ll also benefit from the pulp of the fruit which is a great source of fiber.