I sometimes hear from people who worry that juice is too high in sugar, opting instead for a diet soda, which, while sugar-free, typically contains a long list of chemical additives. Of course, we should all make a concerted effort to minimize our processed-sugar intake, but when it comes to the sweet stuff, not all sugar is created equal.
First of all, you need to understand the difference between monosaccharides (simple sugars) fructose and glucose. Fructose breaks down in your liver and doesn’t bring on an insulin response. Glucose, also called blood sugar, is the body’s preferred energy source and begins its breakdown in the stomach. In order to be metabolized completely, however, insulin must be released into the bloodstream.
While the ratio of fructose to glucose is about the same in fruit and processed sugar, the soluble fiber in fruit juice actually slows glucose digestion, preventing an insulin spike and buying extra time for your body to use the sugar up before it makes a beeline for your fat stores. Added bonus: fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and water, making it nutritionally superior by far to nutrient-devoid sodas and candy.
You also tend to get more bang for your buck in terms of volume. Case in point: a half-cup of strawberries is packing just 3.5 grams of natural sugar, while a cup of strawberry ice cream is loaded up with 15 grams of the white stuff. Not the best allocation of your daily sugar allowance.
In order to avoid overdoing the sugar, many turn to diet soda to help satisfy sweets cravings, believing it to be a healthier choice and thus perpetuating the vicious cycle. Not only are diet sodas completely devoid of nutrients and packed with questionable ingredients like caramel coloring, aspartame, “natural flavors” and a boatload of caffeine, studies have shown they actually increase sweets cravings.
On the flip side, when you’re drinking a freshly-pressed fruit and veggie juice, you’re flooding your body with essential nutrients that help protect against things like cardiovascular disease, cancer, oxidative cell damage and a host of inflammatory diseases and chronic illnesses, like arthritis and IBS. You begin craving fruits and veggies, your skin glows, your nails and hair get stronger, your energy skyrockets and your weight is more easily regulated.
Long story short, don’t be scared off by fruit sugars. They’re a necessary fuel for optimum health, and come with an exhaustive list of health and wellness benefits.
Now, step away from the can!