Word emerged last week that Health Canada was re-considering whether it should continue to view a serving of juice (125 ml) as being equivalent to a half cup of fresh/frozen fruit. I think this would be a wonderful development, and I believe that my own personal experience helps to explain why.
While I was growing up, I drank a lot of juice. Over a litre a day. During my university days, I often bought 10 or more litres of juice in a given trip to the grocery store. Whenever my roomates poked fun at all that juice consumption (which was often), I would point to the sticker on the carton stating that it was the nutritional equivalent of eating a serving of fruit. The calories shouldn’t count, because…. fruit.
That was then. My thinking has changed somewhat in the intervening years. Now, I realize that drinking a small bottle of orange juice is the equivalent of eating 6 oranges, which would strike most people as excessive. In contrast, the amount of juice in a single orange is rather pathetic:
Further, a glass of Tropicana has more calories than an identical glass of Coke or Pepsi.
And what about smoothies? As I’ve said in the past:
Even a freshly made fruit smoothie is still pretty refined when compared to the fruit itself. It takes a fair amount of energy and chopping (not to mention a fancy modern blender) to get a pineapple to the point that you can consume it through a straw. You can think of a fruit smoothie as essentially a piece of blueberry pie in a glass – at least in the pie the blueberries aren’t liquefied (seriously – an original size strawberry raspberry banana smoothie at Jamba Juice has more calories and more sugar than a piece of homemade blueberry pie). Smoothies may be a lot less refined than Twinkies, but they’re not all that far from Nutella or peanut butter.
So let’s all hope that Health Canada decides to make the common sense move, and stop considering juice and fruit to be nutritionally equivalent.