Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It is the conventional wisdom that consumption of fruits regularly is good for health. There are many processed products from fruits like juice, beverage, preserves, dried pieces, fresh cut pieces, fruit bar etc out of which most commonly sought after and promoted is the juice, singly or in combination. A break fast for a western consumer is incomplete unless a juice is served. Most important reason for the juice to become popular is its presumed health conferring values due to presence of many phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. But a juice can never be a satisfactory substitute for the whole fruit and its high sugar content is increasingly attracting the attention of the health critics who advocate restricted consumption of sugar and sugar based products to prevent development of many of the modern day diseases.

Fruit juice is now being compared to man made sugary beverages with different flavors turned out by the soft drink industry because of the concentration of fructose present in both. Soft drink consumption is now being frowned upon because these products are supposed to cause obesity if consumed regularly in large quantities and there are even proposals to impose punitive taxes on them to discourage production and consumption. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a processed sugar concentrate derived from corn starch through hydrolysis and isomerization, is the sweetening base used in the recipes of most of the soft drinks and obesity pundits blame this particular ingredient responsible for fat build up in the body. Fructose is reported to be more readily converted to fat in the liver than glucose and this poses greater risk for development of CVD and Type 2 diabetes.

According to some scientists fruit juice contains more sugar than that present in soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. Levels of sugar in juices can be 10-50% more depending on the source of the juice. Grape juice can have sugar as high as 152 kC equivalent per cup while Coke or Pepsi contains only 97-100 kC, mostly derived from the sugar component in the product. Apple, cherries, grapes, banana, mango, pineapple all can have high sugar content and the fructose levels can be 1 to 2.5 times more than glucose. Natural juice generally contain 95-100% fruit solids with very little added water. Presence of suspended solids in some juice products is another variable when fruit juice nutrition is considered and such juices are always more preferred compared to clarified juices. A natural question that arises is whether consumption of fresh fruit also can be risky in the long run. Will this new findings rewrite present day's nutrition concepts?

The fact, that some scientific studies, critically peer reviewed, have raised the question of fruit juice nutrition, especially in kids, calls for further detailed investigation internationally with more objectivity. It should not appear that these studies are intended to buttress the case of soft drink manufacturers who do not subscribe to the view that fructose is an undesirable sweetener causing obesity in people as being claimed in the Western world.


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