Desk jockeys always be askin’: “What’s the best juice or smoothie to have?” The only thing more annoying than being asked an annoying question is to answer that question with another question: “Why do you think drinking your fruit is healthier than eating it?”
If you’re a healthy adult – and particularly if you’re one of the 2 in 3 American adults who is overweight or obese – eat your fruit, don’t drink it!
Why is fruit better than juice? Here’s why:
- There are fewer calories per serving of fruit than fruit juice
- There is more fiber per serving in fruit than fruit juice
- Fruit is cheaper per serving than fruit juice
One orange has 70 calories and 3 grams of fiber. If you were to make fresh-squeezed orange juice, you would likely take 3 of those oranges, triple the calories to over 200 per glass and leave all of that good pulpy fiber for the garbage can.
That’s not that great for you, but keep in mind that no one makes fresh squeezed orange juice anymore: everyone wants overpriced 16 ounce colorful plastic bottles of sugar-water and fruit juice concentrate to make them feel healthier instead of lazier when they skip real breakfast.
Let’s take a look at 3 popular brands of fruit juice pushers and see where and how they fall flat:
- Reduced Calorie Smoothies: 100 calories in 8 ounces (200 per bottle) but 0 grams fiber
- Pure Juices: 100 calories in 8 ounces (200 per bottle) but 0 grams fiber
- Probiotic 100% Juice Smoothie: 180 calories in 10 ounces and fiber information not listed so it doesn’t exist
- Antioxidant 100% Juice: 160 calories in 8 ounces (320 per bottle) but 0 grams fiber
- Fruit Smoothies: 4 grams of fiber for about 200-250 calorie sixteen ounce serving sizes (not bad but 3-4 times more calories than 1 serving of fruit would give you for the same amount of fiber)
- Fresh Squeezed Juice: 0-1 gram of fiber for 170-calorie 12oz or 220-calorie orange juice; 0 grams fiber in carrot juice
- Light Smoothie: 4 grams fiber for 150-calorie 15-oz Berry Fulfilling flavor – if you have to buy a commercial juice product, this would be it – but they add Splenda for sweetness without calories
- Smoothie Blends: 140 calories for 8 ounces (280 per bottle) but 0 grams fiber
- Odwalla Superfood: 130 calories for 8 ounces (260 per bottle) but 0 grams fiber
- Haiti Hope (100% profits to Haiti is nice, but only 25% juice isn’t…) 100 calories per 8 oz, 200 per bottle, 0 fiber
Your average piece of fruit has 4-5 grams of fiber per serving (which is also 1/2 cup cut fruit). If you aim to get 3 servings of real fruit per day, you can knock off about half of your daily fiber needs (50% of the 30 grams recommendation). And if you still insist on over-paying for fruit, stick to pre-cut fruit cups.
Keep in mind: juice is good for little kids (in moderation), teenage boys who can’t keep weight on and little old ladies who can’t meet their calorie needs from food alone. For the rest of us – eating your fruit – not drinking it is the most healthful way to go. If you need more disincentive to drink smoothies, check out this previous post on McDonald’s Real Fruit Smoothies.