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Foods High in Fiber – Whole Fruit or Fruit Juice, Which is Better?

Fruits are high fiber foods which provide numerous health benefits. A common question is whether whole fruits are just as nutritious as fruit juice. The following explains the differences.

The peel on fruits such as apples and the white pith on oranges are rich sources of fiber. Whole fruit provides much more nutrition than fruit juice. The reason is because of the skin and the pulp.

Benefits of Fruit Skin

The surface of the skin is where fruit interacts with sunlight, and forms a variety of colored pigments that absorb different wavelengths of light. These pigments, including carotenoids and flavonoids, are a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidents has been linked to lowering the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It also helps the aging process by providing protection from ultraviolet light.

When fruits are juiced, typically the skin is not included. This prevents the full benefits from fruits to be included in the juice.

Benefits of Fruit Pulp

In addition to the skin, the pulp is an important source of fiber and other nutrients in fruits. In orange juice, the white pulpy part of the orange is the primary source of its flavonoids. The orange-colored sections within the orange contain most of its vitamin C. Once the pulp of the orange is removed during the processing of orange juice, the flavonoids are lost in the process. Although many commercial products will list “pulp added” on their labels, the added pulp may not be the original pulp found in the whole fruit. It is also highly unlikely to have added back in the original amount of pulp removed.

Juicing Reduces Fiber Content

A cup of clear apple juice (meaning the pulp is removed) contains no measurable amount of fiber. To create the 8-ounce glass of juice, approximately 3-4 apples are needed (depending on the size and density of the apples). Each of these 3-4 apples contains about 3.75 grams of dietary fiber equaling a total of about 12-15 grams of dietary fiber. Virtually all of these 12-15 grams are lost in the production of clear apple juice. These 12-15 grams of lost fiber, if added back into the juice, would double our average daily fiber intake!

Is fruit juice unhealthy?

The answer to this question depends on how it’s consumed, and what foods it replaces. Fruit juice which has been robbed of its fiber and nutrients is basically just a concentrated source of sugar that lacks the supportive nutrients needed to help it digest and metabolize. Fruit juice elevates blood sugar more quickly than whole fruit. Also, the level of sugar that is obtained from fruit juice is higher than the level found in whole fruit. For example, 120 calories’ worth of whole apples contains about 24 grams of sugar, while 120 calories’ worth of apple juice contains about 30 grams.

Many fruit juices sold in grocery stores contain only a small amount of real fruit juice. They also contain added sweeteners such as sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. It is easy to consume a large amount of calories without getting any real nutrition when you consume these drinks.

Practical Tips

In a nutshell, if fruit juice is the only “convenience” choice for replacing canned soda, then by all means chose the fruit juice over the soda. If fruits are juiced together with skin, pulp (and especially vegetables), then drink the juice. This type of juicing may allow a person to increase their intake of vegetables substantially, especially if they don’t consume enough vegetables ordinarily. However, in most cases, the switch from fruit juice to whole fruit can more beneficial for optimum nourishment and health.