Fruit juices and soft drinks: consumption limitations

Given the insistent recommendation to include in the daily diet, both children and adults, a greater amount of fruits and vegetables, many people do not notice the difference that may be in consuming the whole fruit or juice. And yet, the nutritional differences are so important that it is recommended to limit the intake of fruit juices to one a day nothing more.

In spite of the diffusion that its nutritional virtues are among the population, the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables does not reach the amount recommended by the established World Health Organization (WHO), in at least 5 daily rations between fruits and vegetables. The Spanish population exceeds by just 450 grams per day.

Differences between juice and whole fruit

Processed fruits and vegetables (canned, frozen, dried, juices, prepared dishes, etc.) are a convenient and efficient resource to include fruits and vegetables in our daily diet, but they should not systematically replace fresh ones. Something similar occurs with juices, both natural and commercial squeezed or 100% reconstituted (not to be confused with nectars), since the effect produced by their juice in our body is not the same as when fruits and vegetables are consumed in solid state.

A glass of juice in general provides more sugar than a serving of fruit, and barely contains fiber so it also satisfies less than the whole fruit. However, it still maintains a relevant contribution of potassium, vitamin C and folic acid, even some bioactive compounds, such as carotenes (provitamin A), are absorbed more easily than in the fruit or vegetable from which they come.

Limitations for the consumption of fruit juices

The Scientific Committee of the Association 5 a day, after assessing the scientific evidence on the consumption of juices, agreed on a document that set out the conditions for integrating the consumption of juices in the framework of a healthy diet and that limits to no more of a glass of juice a day (150-200 ml.), the amount that could be included in the recommendations.

Some reasons for this limitation:

- The sugars present in fruit juices, whether or not they are squeezed directly or from concentrates, they are considered free sugars, that is, similar to those of table sugar or honey; however, it does not include sugars naturally present in solid foods, such as fruit and vegetables.

- According to the WHO, it is necessary to limit the intake of free sugars less than 10% of the total daily energy.

- The average consumption of free sugars it represents 16 percent of the energy in the European infant diet and 17 percent in that of the adolescents. (EURODIET).

- There is a probable relationship between obesity and sugar consumption, sugary drinks and fruit juices.

- The consumption of juices and nectars in Spain has tripled in the last 20 years, both inside and outside the home.

- To decrease the incidence of dental erosion, the quantity and frequency of consumption of soft drinks and fruit juices should be limited.

Marisol Nuevo Espín


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