Eat Real Food: Juice

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So many of us drink it. So many of us give it to our kids.

But should we? Is it really a good way to get our nutrients?

Store bought juice is pasteurized

I remember when one of my younger sisters (now 21) was little and it was the new big thing to buy pasteurized juice. It was all over the news and what doctors recommended. The reasoning behind this was that pasteurization killed bacteria and then made it safe to consume, saving us from any mishandling on the way from the farm to our fridge. But pasteurizing also kills the natural enzymes in any natural food product, thereby not letting it spoil and giving it a longer shelf life. (convenient for the food manufacturers, huh?) After the enzymes are gone, what’s left for us to consume?  This juice would now be considered dead. Nothing in it is living anymore, it can no longer grow or decompose, and there is nothing natural about it.

And once a natural food is dead, how much nutrition is really in it?

Juice is high in sugar

Yes, some juices contain added sugar in them, but even if they don’t they are still a high sugar drink. You see, fruits should be eaten in moderation, especially for those of use who deal with insulin and hormone imbalances. Even the FDA food pyramid suggests only around 3 servings per day for fruit. And although fruits do contain natural sugars and are leaps and bounds better that refined sugar, it’s still sugar. And a lot of it! If you have your own juicer like I do, you know how many apples it takes to make a glass of juice? About 6 in my experience. And the same goes for oranges.

I looked at the nutritional information for one of the most popular 100% apple juice drinks and the sugar content comes out to a whopping 33 grams of sugar for 10 ounces. And when you actually do the math (4.2 grams of sugar per teaspoon) it totals 7.8 teaspoons of sugar in your drink.

7.8 teaspoons!

Let that sink in for just a moment.

Sunk in? Good!

Because we are already ingesting crazy amounts of sugar in our diet, yet we continue to look at “juice” as a healthy alternative when it clearly is not. And to moms out there – how much extra sugar is your kid getting everyday?

And while the same sugar is in an actual piece of fruit, our bodies are better able to handle it when we consume it along with the enzymes and fiber and everything else still left in tact.

It’s calorie dense

Juice can also fill you up with extra calories, leaving less room for foods that will nourish your body. It’s a well known fact that if you want to lose weight, to drink a glass of water before eating. Because the extra liquid in your stomach makes you feel full and you then eat less.

Does this not also apply to juice? If we fill ourselves, and our kids, up on juice, will it not keep us from eating more nourishing foods?

So what have we learned about juice today?

  • It’s dead. Nutritionally and physically speaking.
  • It’s high in sugar
  • It leaves us with less room for more nourishing foods

And what about fresh juices, the ones we make at home? As far as I can tell, the jury is still out on this one since so many sources I normally turn to are rather conflicted on this subject. Personally? I think freshly made juice has it’s place in some diets. With the enzymes and nutritional content still intact, there has to be some benefit to a glass of “just pressed” juice. But I also think that those of us who have insulin, candida, or yeast issues would be best to stick to a limited consumption of fresh juice and to make them with some veggies as well as fruits.

What do you think? Or have you never thought about it?

This post has been linked to Real Food Wednesday

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. definitely worth thinking about! I never have thought about how many apples I drink when I am making my own juice…I just figured it was better… thanks for this post!

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog . . . I love your site! As for juice, I stopped drinking it long ago because I’d rather eat my calories than drink them, but lately I’ve been making recipes that call for apple or orange juice, and I have wondered what exactly is in them. For that reason, I’ve been thinking about getting a juicer. Just thinkin gat this point, though :-)

    donielle Reply:

    @The Local Cook, You can always check for juicers at garage sales, that’s where I got mine! Though I don’t really use it that much so I’ve thought about tossing it – but it’s nice to have around too. I dunno, guess I’ll keep it around till I need the space for something else!

  3. Sarah Bauer says:

    We also limit our juice intake, maybe 1/2 C per day and usually this is watered down. I also try to use the NT recipes for juice, even with the pasturized juice from the store (we’re on WIC and i don’t want the juice to go to waste like the cereal does…ick!) I figure that by fermenting them a little, I’m putting some of the enzymes and bacteria back into the juice and then it also becomes sparkly, which is fun! I used Sally Fallon’s apple cider recipe on New Year’s Eve and threw a strainer ball of mulling spices in it early in the evening and by midnight we had some yummy mulled sparkling cider….it was sooo good!!

    donielle Reply:

    @Sarah Bauer, I forgot there were drink recipes in there, thanks for the tip! I too put a bit of organic grape juice in with my water kefir every now and again for some nice ‘bubbly’ juice.

  4. Very interesting, I never thought about juice as being a dead food. I also didn’t realize just how much sugar their is in a glass of juice.
    Working towards being a water drinking house. Slowly, slowly!

    donielle Reply:

    @Christy, It does take awhile to get there for sure. For me it was easy, but my husband on the other hand took a lot longer. Like YEARS longer!

  5. Wow! I never realized how much sugar there is in a glass of juice! I knew it was concentrated compared to eating fruit, which is why I’m a water drinker, but I never realized before just how much there really was, and never thought about the pasturization part before either. Thanks for the info!

    donielle Reply:

    @Andi, It’s pretty amazing isn’t it? Thanks for the comment!

  6. And exactly why the only time my daughter has only had apple juice when she was constipated. When we were starting her on a cup, everyone kept saying give watered down apple juice in it. I didn’t want to get that started. I have a friend who her daughter will not drink water without it being part apple juice. My daughter drinks ice water all the time, (And nurses 3x a day too) and has no problem with it.

    donielle Reply:

    @Amy, Ugh, yea everyone tried to tell me my little one should have juice too! At the time I didn’t know the health consequences but knew I didn’t want that habit to start as well.

  7. What I love is when we’re out at a restaurant and order our kids a kiddie-meal but then ask for water for them to drink the waitress ALWAYS argues … “But it comes with a drink!! We have juice, if you’d prefer that!!” No, no I wouldn’t. I’d prefer water, and I’ll pay the extra $1 not to give my child a glass of sugar with their dinner.

    And this just kills me, we met my dad for dinner in Byron Center the other night and the kids meal came with a drink and fries – my kids opted out of the drink, wanting water and asked the waitress for other options – neither of them wanted fries. The waitress was flabbergasted – but my kids got applesauce (still full of sugar I’m sure) instead and were much happier eaters.

    Jessica’s (my 4 year old) is very aware of the affects food has on her – I’m very proud of her and how much she listens to her body and is willing to try new things and be her own personal ambassador for her health. :)

    donielle Reply:

    @jodi, Ah yes, the eating out. I had someone trying to tell me it was “just lemonade” and “sugar free” at that. 😛 it had ASPARTAME in it! I do wish though that Cody would shy away from fries. I hope to teach him to have the same self awareness your Jessica seems to have. Without my freaking out over gross foods anyways. :-)

  8. I don’t know, I got a juicer right before Christmas and OH MY GOODNESS, I can feel the wonderful after drinking a glass. Honestly, I actually feel measurably better after a glass of fresh pressed juice, like I have an actual sensation of “wow, I feel SO good!” It’s a completely different experience from drinking bottled pasteurized juice, which is more like “wow, that was a lot of sugar. I think I have a headache.” And while bottled juice (even 100% juice) definitely causes a wicked insulin spike (I know, I’m diabetic), I haven’t really had a problem with the fresh pressed juice. I don’t know if it’s because it includes the fiber or not, but I feel really great (not like my blood sugar is up in a bad way) after a glass of fresh pressed juice.

    We have been doing the GAPS diet for a while now, and my only problem with it is that it doesn’t contain enough raw foods. It seems really meat-heavy and very cooked food heavy. I don’t have a problem with meat or cooked food, I just love fruits and vegetables when they are, you know, still alive :)

    My general morning drink is this: 4 carrots, 4 kale stalks (or red swiss chard), 1 – 2 tangerines, 1 whole like (with skin), 2 apples. Sometimes we mix it up and throw in different kinds of lettuce or a lemon.

    donielle Reply:

    @Becks, I know what you mean, I do think fresh pressed stuff has it’s place, and the fact that you make yours with so many vegetables helps I’m sure! The main reason I don’t use mine as much is the cost factor – cause you use so much fruit for just one glass of juice!

  9. I agree about store-bought juice, even though I still crave it and drink it sometimes. But if I had kids I wouldn’t let it be a staple. It took me a long time to see it this way because I grew up in a white sugar-free household but we had juice every day.

    But fresh-pressed juice is HEAVENLY. My sister & her husband recently got a fancy juicer for free and several of us got together to have a “juice party”. We had a table of kale, red & green apples, carrots, tangerines, grapefruit, kiwi, tomatoes, grapes, mango, and cucumber. We would make one kind and all have a sample and the flavors were all so intense and delicious – after a while I swear I felt intoxicated from the goodness!

    I’m not going to get a juicer, though – it’s definitely better to eat the whole fruit or vegetable. But I will never turn down fresh-pressed juice if it’s available!

  10. Hi, Donielle.

    Back when I was trying to get pregnant I read somewhere to supplement with fruit juice, every day! So, I did. I’m now convinced that the extra shot of sugar was a major factor in keeping me from being able to get pregnant for so long.

    Also, the fructose in fruit juice is converted to fat in the liver. I’ve read that even though fructose is metabolized differently than sucrose and glucose (by the liver), it can lead to insulin resistance and lowered fertility.

    I think that vegetable juices are fine.

    donielle Reply:

    @Ellen, Sugar was one of the main issues I had with my fertility! As soon as I cut it out, I was finally getting the nutrients I needed to actually ovulate. Your probably right to see a connection!

  11. I had always heard juice was high in sugar, so my son always had it watered down when he had it, which was pretty rare. Early on, once off breastmilk and formula, he showed a strong preference which he still has today at 5: water water water. And a milk-baba 3 times a day. He never asks for juice, or punch, and RARELY asks for soda (7-up or root beer). I severely (but quietly) limit his soda, but allow it occassionally (maybe every 2-3 weeks) so he doesn’t go to a friends house and OD on it. :) I’m getting him used to kefir soda (he likes cherry)…slowly, slowly! :)

  12. Very good post. I was so good about making my kids drink water with a little lemon squeezed in it. I have gotten out of that habit and this post is so encouraging to help me quit giving my kids juice!

  13. Excellent post! I have been reading Cancer-Step outside of the Box and he came to the same conclusions as you, about juice. I am only wanting to have freshly squeezed juice or smoothies made in my Vita Mix. We so desperately need enzymes to help us to process and to absorb the nutrients in our food.


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