Fruit juice is nutritious, so you don't need to avoid it, but you may need to keep track of the calories.
Some people believe fruit juice is bad for your health because it contains natural sugar -- called fructose, or fruit sugar. But fruit juice contains the same nutrients that are found in whole fruit -- it just doesn't have the fiber.
Fiber helps to slow down the digestion and absorption of the natural sugars found in the fruit. It fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer. But fruit juice doesn't have the fiber, so it doesn't have the same effect as eating whole fruit. Without the fiber, it's easier to take in more calories without realizing what you're doing.
No Fiber, but Still Nutritious
Most people don't consume enough fruits and vegetables, so drinking fruit juice can add a serving or two of fruit to your daily total -- as it's 100-percent fruit juice. Fruit drinks that contain very little fruit juice and lots of added sugar or high fructose corn syrup don't count as a serving of fruit.
Six ounces -- or 3/4 cup -- of 100-percent fruit juice counts as one serving of fruit. Most of us need one to two cups of fruit every day (along with about two to three cups of vegetables). Enjoy drinking fruit juice, but eat some whole fruit too -- for the fiber.
Selecting Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is available at your local grocery store. There will be several varieties, and they'll be available in large bottles and single serving containers. The large containers or more economical, but single-serving packages are convenient and are good for brown bag lunches.
When you shop for fruit juice, be sure to look for the words 100-percent fruit juice on the label. You should also look at the ingredients list, which is especially important if you're buying juices such as pomegranate, acai or other exotic fruit juices -- they're frequently blended with apple or grape juice to cut costs. It's not that apple or grape juice is bad, but why pay extra for it?
You can also make your own juice at home with a juicer, either a small hand held orange juice squeezer or a fancy electric juicer that keeps much of the pulp and fiber in the juice.
United States Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate.gov. "Tips to Help You Eat Fruits." Accessed February 2, 2012. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/fruits-tips.html.
United States Department of Agriculture and United States Department of Health and Human Services. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Accessed February 15, 2011. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm.