Fruits comprise one of the largest categories of Foundation Foods. Beyond just apples and bananas, the wide variety of fruits that can help you build bone stretches from avocados to papayas to tomatoes to blackberries and nearly everything in between.
But how you consume your fruit can drastically alter its health value. Today we'll look at the effects of fruit juice on your body and your bones. Then, you'll get two delicious and inventive smoothie recipes brimming with the health benefits of whole fruits (and more!).
The Problem With Juice
Because juice comes from fruit, you might assume it must provide the same benefits that fruit provides, but unfortunately, that's not true.
When you juice a fruit, you leave behind some of its nutritional value, including all of its fiber. This is especially true for commercial juices, which have been processed in ways that sap the juice of its vitamins, antioxidants, and even its original flavor. Almost all that remains is sugar.
This high sugar content is the main problem with juice, rendering it actively harmful to your body and your bones in multiple ways, especially if consumed in large quantities.
Even More Problems With Store-Bought Juice
Store-bought juices, in addition to their high sugar content, contain additives and undergo processes that most consumers are unaware of. All commercial juices are pasteurized, a process of rapidly heating the liquid to kill any contaminating bacteria and other germs. The process also destroys a portion of the vitamin and antioxidant content of the juice.1
Many not-from-concentrate juices are not even remotely fresh. For example, big juice companies maintain million-gallon anti-septic tanks of orange juice that have undergone a process called “deaeration” that strips the juice of oxygen so that it can be stored in the tanks for up to a year.
This process keeps the orange juice from spoiling, but it also strips it of all of its natural flavor and aroma. To make the juice taste like oranges again, many food companies hire laboratories to produce flavor packs.
A flavor pack is an additive that is produced from the chemicals that naturally exist in orange essence and oil. Food scientists rearrange the individual chemicals into new configurations that consumers recognize as commercial orange juice- but which no longer resemble the natural compounds that give real oranges their smell and taste.
Juice doesn't have the same health benefits as whole fruit. Fruit juice is mostly sugar and is devoid of fiber and many of the fruit's important nutrients. Commercially produced juices are subject to pasteurization and stabilization processes that sap the juice of both its original nutritional value and its flavor and smell- the latter of which are replaced through laboratory constructed “flavor packs.”
Health Risks Of Fruit Juice
While fresh-squeezed juice doesn't undergo processing, it still doesn't provide all the health benefits of whole fruit, and its high sugar content can contribute to a variety of health conditions. Ironically, these are the same problems linked to soda and sports drinks. That's because many juices contain comparable amounts of sugar to these notoriously unhealthy beverages.
A 12 oz glass of orange juice contains 37 grams of sugar, and the same amount of apple juice contains 40 grams (that's a gram more than a can of coca-cola!) Worst of all is grape juice, which can contain as much as 60 grams of sugar in a single glass.
Here are some of the health problems linked to excessive sugar consumption:
- Brain degeneration– The formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), sugar-bonded proteins that weaken collagen and collect in the brain, contribute to Alzheimer's disease.2
- Weakened immune system– Excessive sugar harms your ability to successfully break down and neutralize foreign matter like bacteria and pathogens. 3
- Increased risk of diabetes4
- Risk of high blood pressure– Hypertension risk has been shown to be 12% more prevalent among people who drink one or more sugary drink daily.5
- Increased risk of heart disease – People who consume between 17 and 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had nearly a 40 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease compared with those who took in 8 percent or less of calories from sugar.6
- Weight gain and obesity – are more likely to occur as sugar intake increases in a person's diet7
- Cavities– are caused by sugar.8
- Kidney damage– can be caused by excessive sugar consumption over time.9
Excessive sugar consumption causes a wide range of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and cavities. Fruit juice is a sugary beverage on par with sodas and can cause the same conditions.
Why Fruit Juice Is Detrimental To Your Bones
High sugar consumption- regardless of the source- can have extremely detrimental effects on your bone strength and quality. Here are some of the negative effects that sugary beverages like fruit juice may have on your bones:
- AGEs and falls – The risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's Disease increases with the accumulation of AGEs, which leads to an increased risk of falls and fractures.10>/sup>
- AGEs and collagen – AGEs weaken collagen, one of the major components of bone, that gives bone flexibility and structure.11
- Mineral loss – Sugar depletes your body of minerals you need to form new bone. The body expels calcium and magnesium as it attempts to counteract the acidification caused by sugar, stripping the minerals directly from your bones.12
- Blocks copper intake – Excessive sugar intake prevents your body from absorbingcopper.13
The high sugar content of fruit juice is detrimental to bone health, hindering collagen formation, causing mineral loss, and leading to conditions that increase the likelihood of falls and fractures.
A Better Way To Get Your Fruits
Consume fruits whole to get all of their bone-building antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. Choose fruits with a low glycemic load like strawberries, pears, and cantaloupe, to reduce the negative impacts of sugars.
Glycemic load measures the impact of a serving of food on blood sugar levels. Try making fruits part of a full meal, so that you aren't just eating high-sugar foods. Add fruit to a hearty salad, stir it into oatmeal, or add a dollop of unsweetened yogurt to make a creamy treat.
Drinking smoothies is another great option that retains the value of the whole fruit. These two pH-balanced smoothie recipes combine vitamin-rich fruits with bone boosters like flaxseed and probiotic-rich unsweetened yogurt.
This smoothie contains an unusual ingredient: lima beans! These legumes are jam-packed with fiber, which helps to stabilize your blood sugar, counteracting the sugars in the banana. It also adds a burst of protein to give this smoothie some serious staying power- you won't be hungry again for several hours! Plus, it's 100% alkalizing.
- 1/3 cup lima beans, cooked
- 1/2 banana, sliced
- ¼ cup plain unsweetened yogurt
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk or your favorite dairy-free milk
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Stevia to taste
- Garnish with fresh mint or rosemary (optional)
- Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. If necessary, add more milk to reach the desired consistency.
- Sprinkle with mint or rosemary (optional).
Berries And Oats Smoothie
This smoothie contains oats, which is a great trick for adding extra nutrients (like silicon and iron) to your smoothie. Oatmeal helps to regulate blood sugar, thanks to its high fiber content.
- 2 tablespoons rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons blueberries
- 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
- 1/4 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- ¼ cup almond milk or your favorite dairy-free milk
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk if you prefer a more liquid consistency.
A Smooth Move For Former Juice Drinkers
If you are a fruit “juice fanatic”, don't despair. Smoothies are an equally delicious drinkable treat, and making them at home gives you the chance to pack your meal with bone-building ingredients you could never get in a juice.
If you want to explore more bone-building smoothie recipes, look no further than the Save Institute's cookbook and meal planner Bone Appétit. Along with hundreds of recipes that span every meal of the day, Bone Appétit comes with the bonus cookbook Blender Magic, which provides more than 30 delicious smoothie recipes specially designed to support bone health.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!