Boiling Down the So-Called Benefits of Juice

A common misconception is that 100 percent fruit juice is healthy.
Juices are major sources of added sugars. Water is the best choice for health and hydration.

Although our bodies need sugar for energy, we don’t need 180 pounds of the sweet stuff. That’s the average amount of sugar eaten by Americans in a year. And that’s a whole lot of sweetness.

The major sources of added sugars in American diets are regular soft drinks and fruit drinks along with candy, cakes, cookies and pies. While most parents routinely limit the amount of candy consumed by little ones, they may not be as vigilant when it comes to drinks.

“A common misconception is that 100 percent fruit juice is healthy, that it has vitamins that kids need and is better than other juices,” says Dr. Ana-Maria Temple, a pediatrician with Carolinas HealthCare System. However, the process of creating these juices removes any health benefits. First, fruits are juiced, removing pulp and peels that contain fiber. Second, the juice is boiled at 210 degrees for pasteurization so it can last on the shelf until 2018. This heating process kills vitamins that may be present in juice. Any nutrient mentioned on the packaging is added by the processing plant. By the time it hits the grocery shelf, sugar is the only thing left from the fruit.  

For children, the American Heart Association recommends no more than three to four teaspoons per day of added sugar. Cut back slowly on sugar-filled drinks, juices and sports drinks and read the labels on beverages. Plain water is best for health and hydration.