Take it from a juice lover, when you are really, really parched, nothing tastes quite so good as a cold bottle of juice. I have chugged more Vitamin Water in the past year than I care to admit. These days, grocery stores seem to be spilling over with never-ending varieties of my favorite liquid. I recently tried an acai-blueberry-pomegranate blend that claimed to be loaded with antioxidants. The problem is most juices are also loaded with sugar.
Juice in moderation can be a nutritious part of a healthy diet. But, more than a serving or two per day can quickly cancel out any health benefits gained from drinking juice. Many juices contain as much sugar and nearly as many calories as a regular can of Coke. Dieticians warn some juice is simply “liquid candy.” Even all-natural (no sugar added) juices contain the natural sugar found in fruit.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day for children under six and no more than 8 to 12 ounces for children 7 to 18. Most dieticians apply that same recommendation (no more than 8 to 12 ounces per day) for adults as well. It is easy to over consume juice since most of the drink-on-the-go sized bottles contain 20 ounces, or 2.5 servings. Most people swig back the whole bottle, rather than saving it for another day.
When you do drink juice, experts suggest making it good one. All-natural juices with no-added sugar are the best option. Acai, blueberry, pomegranate and red grape juice contain antioxidants, while orange and grapefruit juice are high in Vitamin C. The health benefits of prune and cranberry juice are also well known. Vegetable juice is a great choice. However, V-8’s “Fusion,” a mixture of vegetable and fruit juice, contains as much sugar as orange juice. Vitamin Water and similar brands of enriched “water,” generally have fewer calories than fruit juices but may not be all-natural.
For people who crave more than a serving a day, experts suggest using a technique parents use with children: Add water to juice to cut calories. That way, you can enjoy two or three glasses per day. Also, consider going for the whole fruit, which offers additional fiber and nutrients.
### Erika Weisensee is a writing mom. She lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism at the University of Portland.