Expert Q&A

Fruit juice: Can you substitute juice for the 1-2 recommended daily servings?

Can I substitute a few glasses of 100% juice for the 1-2 of daily recommended servings of fruit?

-Beth from Nebraska

The National Cancer Institute recommends that we eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group, including orange, apple, grape or grapefruit juices. In general, 1 cup of fresh fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the fruit group. The good news is that fruit and vegetable juices are full of antioxidants that can help fight diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Go for 100% fruit juice

If you regularly purchase and drink juice, be sure it is 100% pure fruit juice. It is a much better option than fruit punch, soda and ‘fruit drinks’ that provide calories, but few nutrients. Most nutrition experts recommend that if you do drink juice, you limit it to only 1 of your servings of fruit per day. But, even when it is 100% juice, remember that juices lack the fiber of whole fruit. In addition, some juices use concentrated white grape juice as a sweetener, making them higher in simple sugars and calories even though they can still truthfully claim to be 100% fruit juice.

Fruit juices can be high in calories

Remember even pure fruit juices are high in naturally-occurring simple sugars. And those natural sugars can add up to lots of calories. A glass of fruit juice ranges from 100 (orange, grapefruit, apple) to 170 (grape and prune) calories for an 8-ounce serving. It's easy to overdo them, because it's more convenient to drink 12 ounces of orange juice than it is to eat two oranges. Whole fruit is more filling because it is fiber-rich. The fiber helps slow down digestion, making it more satisfying. In addition, the less processed any food is, the better.

Enjoy juices healthfully while making the most of the calories on your eating plan by:

For further information on eating 5 fruit and vegetables daily see the following article from TheDietChannel: 5-A-Day for Better Health Program: General Info and for children 5-A-Day Challenger for Kids.

Michèle Turcotte, MS, RD/LDN
Contributing Expert

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