Susan Jebb, head of diet and obesity research at the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research Unit has called for fruit juice to be removed from the list of recommended foods that can contribute towards your 5 a day.

Why are fruit juices unhealthy?

We have known for some time that fruit juices are not a ‘healthy’ choice because they contain high amounts of a sugar called fructose.

Most of the carbohydrates we eat are made up of chains of glucose. When glucose enters the bloodstream, the body releases insulin to help regulate it.  However, fructose is processed in the liver.

When too much fructose enters the liver, the liver can’t process it all fast enough for the body to use as a source of energy. Instead, it starts converting the fructose to fats and sends them into the bloodstream as triglycerides – unhealthy fats.

Health implications

  • High blood triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease including atherosclerosis, stroke and thrombosis.
  • Fructose can contribute to weight gain because it is bypasses the normal appetite signalling system, meaning that appetite-regulating hormones aren’t triggered–and you’re left feeling unsatisfied and wanting to eat more food.
  • High fructose consumption may also lead to Type 2 Diabetes and other metabolic disorders because there is evidence to show that it may cause insulin resistance where the body the cells of the body become resistant to insulin.

What can you do to help?

  • If you want a fruit juice always dilute it 1/2 and 1/2 with water
  • be aware that smoothies also contain high levels of fructose
  • When making your own juices – always stir some of the fibre back into the drink.  Fibre is healthy for all sorts of reasons – it slows down how quickly the sugars are absorbed and helps you to feel full for longer
  • Eat your fruit whole and stick with temperate climate fruits such as apples, pears, berry fruits, citrus and be more wary of tropical fruits that contain high levels of fructose.