Fruit Juices Under Attack

A recent Los Angeles Times article called into the question the health value of fruit juices. Understandably, this might not sit well in some sectors of the produce industry. You can find the full Los Angeles Times article here. In the meantime, our own editor-at-large, Dick Meister, has some strong feelings on this issue, and he shares them below:

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Recent news items that fruit juices are no better nutritionally than Coke, Pepsi, or other sugary drinks sounds an alarm to fruit growers. Fruit juices are soda in disguise? It is part of the war on obesity for which artificial beverages are being blamed. But now appetite researchers like Dr. Charles Billington at the University of Minnesota say that fruit juices are pretty much the same as sugar water and not a whole lot different from Coke or Pepsi. In the modern diet, he said “there is no need for any juice at all.”

These are fighting words to apple growers who squeeze apples into flavorful, nutritionally strong apple juice, or orange growers, or cherry growers. Nearly half of all Americans consume fruit juice regularly, market studies show.

What about the vitamins, the minerals, and the antioxidants, phytochemicals, and anti-inflammatory effects in a glass of juice? Do these researchers know that it was the U.S. Army which funded the research which developed orange concentrate as a health product to make sure soldiers got enough vitamin C?

To compare fruit juices to carbonated sodas can do irreparable harm to our collective health, if juice consumption is restricted. Nevertheless, nutritionists and health officials are revising policy to de-emphasize juice in the diet of children, claiming it causes energy imbalance which causes weight gain leading to obesity. Common sense tells us that overeating any food can cause obesity. But to compare fruit juices to sugar water or Coke and Pepsi is just plain insanity.