Fruit Pile

From a young age, we teach our children to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. What many parents may not realize is the big difference between eating a piece of fruit versus drinking a cup of juice. When you chew a piece of fruit, the pulp and fiber help your body process it more slowly. In contrast, when you drink fruit juice, the sugar goes directly into your bloodstream and makes your body work harder to process the sugar. From your body’s perspective, fruit juice has the same impact as sugary soda does.

This important difference is why whole fruit is more like healthy food and fruit juice is more like junk food.
Here are several reasons why you should eat your fruits and veggies, not drink them.

  1. Keep All the Good Nutrients

  2. When you eat a piece of fruit, you get all the nutritional value of the fruit and the vitamins, along with the pulp and fiber. When you drink juice or a fruit smoothie, you’re consuming the concentrated sugars but leaving behind the nutritious pulp or fiber content. In fact, data shows that children 2 to 18 years old consume almost half of their fruit intake as juice.

  3. Maintain Good Gut Health

  4. The fiber from whole fruits, known as prebiotic fiber or fermentable fiber, has many benefits including maintaining good bacteria in your intestinal tract, also known as a healthy gut. This in turn helps to promote overall health and a healthy weight. When you drink processed fruit drinks like juice and smoothies, the sugar is processed through the liver, causing the pancreas to produce excess amounts of insulin that turns sugar into fat for storage. High insulin levels also prevent your brain from receiving the signal of being full, which can cause you to keep eating in order to compensate.

  5. Feel More Full, Satisfied

  6. Research shows that you consume fewer calories when you eat solid food compared with liquids. Eating the actual fruit will leave you much more satisfied than if you were to drink it. This can be a very important aspect of a healthy diet because consuming fruits and veggies in a solid form will help you feel more full and reduce your hunger.

  7. Better Manage Blood Sugar

  8. Eating fruit versus drinking it slows down digestion of the fruit sugar so your body can better manage your blood sugar. When you consume natural sugar in a liquid form, your body can’t distinguish it as a healthy sugar. The body then processes it the same way it would a Coca-Cola or Gatorade, which is through the liver. This can lead to long-term health issues including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

In general, women should have a maximum of 25 grams of sugar, men should have a maximum of 38 grams of sugar, and children should have no more than 25 grams of sugar per day excluding the sugar content found in whole fruits and unflavored dairy products. One cup of juice has more than the maximum recommended daily intake of sugar. Although it may feel like you’re eating healthy while you’re consuming juices and smoothies, it’s far better to eat your fruit instead of drink it.

June 28, 2019 | by Sherri Zorn MD, FAAP