Soft Drinks Are Healthier Than Fruit Juices

Edited on 1-31-06: Old article links is broken (thanks, CNN!), added new article link.

A highly ignorant belief is that fruit juice is better for you than soft drinks. Consider the following chart, showing how many calories are stuffed into a 12 oz serving of each kind of drink:

Drink Calories
Coke Classic 110
Sprite 110
Dr Pepper 136
100% pure orange juice 168
100% pure grape juice 231
100% pure apple Juice 176

(Figures from http://www.nutritiondata.com/. Note that 12 oz is the size of a traditional can of soda.)

The trend is obvious: fruit juices are packed with far more empty calories than soft drinks.

Some people justify fruit juices because they are supposedly full of vitamins. In fact, fruit juices’ vitamin concentration can be inferior to that of whole fruits. But suppose it isn’t inferior? Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “enough.” If you get “enough” vitamins, additional vitamins aren’t any help. Fruit juices are an unnecessary vitamin source because you can get more than “enough” vitamins from a reasonable diet.

Another common justification of fruit juices is that they are “natural.” Well, guess what, smarty pants? A calorie of fruit sugar makes you just as fat as a calorie of refined sugar.

Fruit juices are clearly not a healthy alternative to soft drinks unless your health goal is to maximize your waist size.

Except for the rare time that I give my toddler some juice, I haven’t regularly stocked any kind of fruit juice in my house in years. We just eat whole fruits. I already have a hard enough time controlling my weight without juices.

Recently Texas started reducing soft drink availability at schools. Unfortunately, Texas politicians still pretend that fruit juice is good for you, so fruit juice remains as available as ever.

Recent CNN article about fat preschoolers and fruit juice.

Newer CBS article about sweet drinks, including fruit juices, and flabby kids

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