So Which Drink is Unhealthier- Fruit Juice or Soda? (Okay, It's a Trick Question)

Medical experts from Scotland want juice banned from their country's recommended daily intake list. Is that really necessary?

If you were being diligent about your health and were given just two options for a drink, which would you choose—juice or soda?

Well, according to researchers from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, there is no better option in this case. They say the high sugar content in fruit juice is just about equal to the amount of sugar that’s dumped in soda.

And that’s not all. The study authors are now urging their government to remove the recommended one-serving-per-day of fruit juice from their “five a day” fruits and vegetable servings guideline, deeming juice as “probably counter-productive.” They’re also hoping to encourage beverage companies to inform drinkers that they should not sip more than 150 ml (about five ounces) of their product on any given day.

"One glass of fruit juice contains substantially more sugar than one piece of fruit,” writes co-author Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the university. “In addition, much of the goodness in fruit—fiber, for example—is not found in fruit juice, or is there in far smaller amounts.”

Not so fast, says Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook. “The immediate headline-making news of this paper misses the big picture on nutrition,” she told iVillage. “When consuming 100% fruit juice, you are getting so much more than calories in the form of sugar. The plant nutrient profile is important for good health. In general, consumers need more fruit, not less."

Her takeaway advice—go for the whole fruit first, and then fill in the gaps with 100% pure fruit juice, while steering clear of beverages with added sugar. “My motto with juice: Use a juice glass, not a goblet! It’s ultimately the consumption of too many calories that’s the culprit in weight gain, and therefore, increased risk of diabetes.”

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