We asked a dietitian – and no, it’s not celery juice.
If you’re a healthy foodie, you’re probably no stranger to juice. After all, fruit and veggies are incredibly good for you – so why wouldn’t juice be, too?!
Unfortunately, however, juice doesn’t automatically get my good-for-you stamp of approval.
So, before your next trip to your favourite juice bar, here’s the tea on juice.
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What’s the healthiest type of juice?
From apple to orange to pineapple, there’s lots of different juices on supermarket shelves. To give you some context before I dive into the nitty gritty, here’s the nutritionals of seven of the most popular kinds:
- Apple juice – 121kJ, 0.2g protein, 0g fat, 7g carbs, 7g sugar, 0.2g fibre and 6mg sodium per 100mL
- Carrot juice – 133kJ, 0.8g protein, 0.1g fat, 5g carbs, 5g sugar, 4g fibre and 38mg sodium per 100mL
- Celery juice – 62kJ, 0.6g protein, 0.1g fat, 2.2g carbs, 1.2g sugar, 1.4g fibre and 98mg sodium per 100mL
- Orange juice – 116kJ, 0.8g protein, 0g fat, 5.8g carbs, 5.8g sugar, 0.3g fibre and 3mg sodium per 100mL
- Pineapple juice – 190kJ, 0.3g protein, 0.1g fat, 10.7g carbs, 10.7g sugar, 0g fibre and 1mg sodium per 100mL
- Tomato juice – 79kJ, 0.7g protein, 0g fat, 3.5g carbs, 2.5g sugar, 0.5g fibre and 220mg sodium per 100mL
- Tropical juice – 182kJ, 0.4g protein, 0.1g fat, 9.7g carbs, 9g sugar, 1.1g fibre and 3mg sodium per 100mL
Is juice really that good for you?
With a base of fruit and veggies, it’s easy to understand why people think juice is a healthy sip.
As a dietitian, however, I have three main gripes with it:
#1 Juice lacks fibre
That’s because the fibre is removed in the juicing process (unlike a smoothie where the entire fruit is blitzed up). Gut-loving fibre is key for keeping you feeling satisfied – so juices are a little lacklustre when it comes to the fullness factor.
#2 Juice is full of sugar
I know, I know, fruit contains natural sugar, which is a completely different kettle of fish to added sugar. But, buyer beware: there are plenty of juices on the market that top up this natural sugar with added sugar, so it’ll pay to check the label for the sake of your teeth.
What’s more, fruit juice contains far more sugar per serve than a piece of whole fruit. Think about it: it can take four or five oranges to make a glass of OJ. You wouldn’t sit down to eat five whole oranges, so why would you drink the juice of five oranges (and all the sugar they provide) in one hit?!
#3 Juice is liquid kilojoules
The nutritionals above are listed per 100 millilitres – and chances are you’re going to drink far more juice than that. Some cafes and juice bars can serve you in excess of half a litre a pop, which really adds up on the kilojoule front. A big glass of tropical juice, for example, could contain over 1,000 kilojoules, which is a huge dent in your daily 8,700 kilojoule intake.
The verdict on juice
As you can see, different types of juices are relatively similar in their nutritional composition, with a few exceptions. Veggie-based juices, like tomato and celery, tend to provide less overall kilojoules and sugar than their fruit-based counterparts. That being said, I wouldn’t say one type of juice is ‘healthier’ than another.
At the end of the day, juice is juice. Yes, it provides some nutrition and is far better for you than soft drink or cordial – but it’s still a concentrated source of kilojoules and sugar, and more often than not, is simply unnecessary. As boring as it sounds, I’d suggest that water should always be your drink of choice. Juices can be enjoyed occasionally, but shouldn’t be part of your day-to-day sipping habits.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.