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Often people find conflicting or misleading information in the media about fruit juices. We look at the science to clear up 11 of the most common misconceptions about 100% fruit juice.
Here are the scientifically correct headlines:
100% fruit juice has no added sugars
Contrary to general misconceptions, there are NEVER any added sugars in 100% fruit juice. In fact, adding sugars is prohibited by European law, whether the juice comes from concentrate or not. Fruit juice contains around 10% sugars, including fructose, glucose and sucrose, which are all naturally occurring in the whole fruit from which the juice is squeezed. The remaining 90% that makes up fruit juice is water, vitamins (e.g. vitamin C), minerals and phytonutrients. To learn more about the sugars naturally found in 100% fruit juice, see Carbohydrates and Sugars in 100% Fruit Juice.
The sugars in 100% fruit juice are only from whole fruit
The sugars in 100% fruit juice are naturally occurring in the whole fruit. Too much sugar, no matter what kind, is not good for health. Therefore, it’s important that any dietary sugar is not consumed from energy-dense, nutrient-poor sources but is consumed as part of foods abundant in essential nutrients – such as 100% fruit juice. Like whole fruit, each type of fruit juice contains a different blend of nutrients: for example, orange juice contains nutrients such as vitamin C, folate and potassium. (To learn more about the vitamins and minerals in orange juice, see the factsheet “Nutritional Profile of 100% Orange Juice.”) According to the European Commission drinking fruit juice in moderation is a convenient and tasty way to help to increase daily fruit and vegetable intake and reach the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.
People don’t drink 100% juice to replace whole fruit
As a health professional you may be advising patients to eat whole fruit instead of drinking 100% juice. But this advice is not based on the premise that juice replaces whole fruit in diets. The evidence does not support this. Evidence suggests that 100% fruit juice drinkers eat more whole fruit and vegetables, not less. They are also more likely to achieve the fruit & vegetable recommendations set by many European countries. Evidence also demonstrates that 100% juice complements - rather than replaces - whole fruit and vegetable intake. Most people in Europe are not eating the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables so a daily glass of 100% fruit juice is a sensible addition to whole fruit consumption. Cutting out juice entirely could mean even fewer people meeting fruit and vegetables recommendations. So it’s not a case of ‘either or’ - drinking 100% fruit juice and eating whole fruit go hand in hand.
Discover more about how 100% fruit juice can contribute to a balanced, healthy diet in Why drink 100% fruit juice?
Packaged fruit juice is as nutritious as home-squeezed juice
There is evidence that some nutrients are marginally reduced in commercial fruit juice compared to whole fruit (for example through gentle pasteurisation) while other nutrients may actually be more bioavailable (accessible to our bodies) due to processes such as pasteurisation.
The vitamins and minerals in 100% fruit juice come straight from the fruit from which it is squeezed. Each whole fruit and fruit juice contains a different blend of nutrients. These don’t disappear when juice is packaged. In fact packaging methods can help preserve the nutrients from freshly picked fruit. European fruit juice producers choose processes that help to preserve the nutritional value of the fruit juice for consumers - squeezing, pasteurising and packing it in a way that helps protect these natural nutrients.
To start, the fruits in fruit juice are squeezed soon after harvest - keeping more of the fruits’ natural nutrients, which can reduce over time once whole fruit is picked. In addition, packaging protects fruit juice from the effects of temperature, air and light and helps maintain its natural properties. For more information on the processes involved in fruit juice production, see How fruit juice is made.
100% juice helps children eat more fruit & vegetables
For good health children (in fact everyone) should eat at least 400g of fruit & vegetables – or 5 portions a day. Currently most kids are not achieving anywhere near that. For example, in the UK only 8% of children reach their 5 a day. Cutting out juice could reduce this even further. Beyond increasing fruit and vegetable intake, fruit juice has some very specific benefits according to independent research:
• It is an “important source of magnesium and potassium for 2-5 year olds”
• Experiencing the taste of juice is thought to help children get used to the ‘new tastes’ of whole fruit and vegetables, helping to shape long term food choices.
Discover more about the inclusion of fruit juice in a child’s diet in Tips for parents.
People aren’t drinking ‘too much’ fruit juice
Across Europe most people are drinking far less than a small glass of juice a day. In fact the average European drinks just 31ml per person per day. A small glass (about 150ml) of 100% fruit juice contributes just 3% of the daily calories in a recommended 2000kcal woman’s diet. Most people in Europe are not eating the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables. 100% fruit juice helps increase fruit and vegetable intake and helps people maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
Fruit juice is compatible with good dental health
Drinking 100% fruit juice, alongside good oral hygiene practices, is compatible with good dental health. To enjoy the full benefits of fruit juice in the diet, there are a few simple measures to take alongside brushing with fluoride toothpaste to protect teeth, such as drinking fruit juice with meals rather than on its own and drinking it through a straw.
With good dental hygiene nutritious food or drinks, including those containing carbohydrates or acids such as fruit juice, can be part of a healthy balanced diet without the risk of damaging your teeth. Check out the Dental health section for more information.
100% fruit juice is not directly linked to obesity
There is no direct link between 100% fruit juice and obesity and in fact, studies suggest that fruit juice consumers eat more fruit and vegetables than non-consumers and are more likely to achieve the fruit & vegetable consumption guidelines of many European countries.
The average European drinks just 33ml of 100% juice a day. That’s around 15 calories, which on a population level it is unlikely to cause or even contribute to obesity.
Overconsumption of calories leads to weight gain and obesity - not fruit juice (or any other food or drink) on its own.
To learn more about the contribution of fruit juice to a healthy diet and [well-proportioned diet], see Obesity and fruit juice.
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2. AIJN Frequently Asked Questions. Available at: http://www.aijn.org/faqs
3. UK Department of Health. Nutrient analysis of fruit and vegetables. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf [Last accessed 8 February 2017].
4. AIJN Frequently Asked Questions. Available at: http://www.aijn.org/faqs
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5. Gibson, S. Fruit juice consumption in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS 2008-2010): associations with diet quality and indices of obesity and health. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2012.
6. Aschoff et al. In Vitro Bioaccessibility of Carotenoids, Flavonoids, and Vitamin C from Differently Processed Oranges and Orange Juices. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2015.
7. Official Journal of the European Union. Directive 2012/12/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council. Available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:115:0001:0011:EN:PDF.
8. Nelson. Phytochemically induced flavor changes in orange juice exposed to light in glass and polyethylene terephthalate at 4°C .Thesis (M.S.), 2005, University of Florida.
- Also read: Klimczak. Effects of storage on the content of polyphenols, vitamin C and the antioxidant activity of orange juices. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 2007.
9. Public Health England. National Diet and Nutrition Survey Results from Years 5 and 6 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2012/2013 – 2013/2014). Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/551352/NDNS_Y5_6_UK_Main_Text.pdf [Last accessed 15 February 2017].
10. Fulgoni V and Quann E. National trends in beverage consumption in children from birth to 5 years: analysis of NHANES across three decades. Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:92. Available at: http://www.nutritionj.com/content/11/1/92.
11. CREDOC. Comportements et consommation alimentaire en France 2010. Enquête CCAF 2010. 2010.
12. AIJN Liquid Fruit Market Report 2016: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/1d1b0aa7#/1d1b0aa7/20. [Last accessed 25 November 2016].
13. FJM Nutrient Chart. Available at : https://fruitjuicematters.eu/en/downloadable-resources
14. European Fresh Produce Association (Freshfel Europe) Consumption Monitor 2014
- Also read: Bates, B., Lennox, A. & Swan, G. Eds. UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Results from Years 1-4 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009-2011/2012):
15. Van Loveren, C. Diet and Dental Caries: cariogenicity may depend more on oral hygiene using fluorides than on diet or type of carbohydrates. 2000. Available at: http://www.eapd.eu/9B3D610A.en.aspx [Last accessed 23 March 2017].
16. Oral Health Foundation. 100% Fruit Juice 'best for teeth'. Available at https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/details/833 [Last accessed 3 April 2016].
17. Gibson, S. Fruit juice consumption in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS 2008-2010): associations with diet quality and indices of obesity and health. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2012.