We may think we are giving health a good turn by opting for commercial fruit juice or pre made smoothie instead of soda pop, but health advocates warn this in not a sound choice. Linked with obesity and type 2 diabetes, the drinks are often a disease promoting agent in disguise. Masquerading behind a facade of wholesomeness, fruit juice and smoothies contain high levels of harmful fructose and synthetic additives. In response, nutrition experts warn if we want to avoid health issues in the future, these beverages should be given a wide berth.
The risks of 'healthy' beverages
A significant player in the soaring rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, sugar of all kinds (especially fructose) is a health disaster. Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, states that "smoothies and fruit juice are the new danger," in an interview with The Guardian.
In 2004, Popkin had blown the whistle on the use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in soft drinks which triggered a substantial backlash for soda manufacturers, causing corporations like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to change tactics.
"It's kind of the next step in the evolution of the battle. And it's a really big part of it because in every country they've been replacing soft drinks with fruit juice and smoothies as the new healthy beverage. So you will find that Coke and Pepsi have bought dozens [of fruit juice companies] around the globe," said Popkin.
Nine years ago, Popkin and his colleague, George Bray, identified sugar sweetened sodas as a major cause of the obesity epidemic. Coming full circle, the scientists now argue that replacing carbonated soft drinks with fruit juice and smoothies is an overlooked danger. According to Popkin, ". . . all the long term studies on fruit juice in anything show the same kind of effect whether it's a smoothie or natural [juice] and whether it's a diabetes or weight gain effect."
Likewise, a study published by the British Medical Association reveled that people who ate whole fruit - especially apples, blueberries and grapes - had a lower risk of developing obesity related type 2 diabetes than those who consumed fruit juice. Moreover, participants who substituted whole fruit for juice three times per week slashed their risk of the disease by 7 percent.
Fructose is particularly troublesome as it bypasses the body's satiating signals which encourages overconsumption and subsequent weight gain along with insulin resistance. It also increases uric acid levels which promotes metabolic syndromes like hypertriglyceridemia. Fruit juices and smoothies contain concentrated forms of fructose, giving rise to a vicious cycle of blood sugar imbalances.
As observed by Popkin, when all is said and done, we would be better off consuming vegetable juice or whole fruit.