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Is full-fruit juice fattening?
January 11, 2011 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Riddle me this... Fruit: Healthy and delicious! Fruit juice: Fattening and delicious! But what if I have a kickass blender that liquifies everything and I can put the whole fruit in the blender. To me, it becomes juice and therefore is fattening, but I've read that "since it contains the pulp" it no longer is, which seems like BS to me because it no longer has the consistency of pulp. What's the truth?
posted by dobbs to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fruit juice isn't "fattening" per se, but you lose a lot of... I dunno what the exact term is but I want to say digestive opportunity when you drink juice vs eating a fruit.

Think of is this way — a whole orange takes your body a certain amount of energy to break down. This is good — the orange takes longer to digest and therefore makes you feel full longer. But when you juice the whole orange, your doing some of the "digesting" before the fruit even goes in your body. The juice is easier to digest and therefor fills you up less.

In other words, you aren't getting as much bang for your buck with the fruit juice as you are with the whole fruit.
posted by Brittanie at 6:35 PM on January 11, 2011


There were two very good comments on this matter by VikingSword recently, complete with papers to back 'em up.

tl;dr: breaking down the structure of the fruit before you consume it has major effects on how quickly its sugars are absorbed by the body, causing insulin spikes.
posted by vorfeed at 6:38 PM on January 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


It for this same reason that white bread is not as healthy as wheat bread. The bleaching process in a sense has already started breaking down the nutrients and fiber in the bread so you body has to do less work and gets an immediate (and quickly dissipating) surge of energy.

You might want to read a bit about the glycemic index, which proposes that foods that take longer to digest are better for you in the long run.
posted by Brittanie at 6:38 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nutritionally, you're getting the same value as eating the fruit itself. Blending doesn't destroy any of the dietary fiber or vitamins that the pulp or the whole fruit provides.
But, as Brittanie points out, you probably aren't going to feel as full when drinking blended fruit. So I think the answer is probably a bit in between (though I'm personally of the opinion that it's much closer to the actual fruit than juice, which is usually stripped of the skin and pulp).
posted by thewumpusisdead at 6:38 PM on January 11, 2011


Fruit and fruit juice contain no fat. They mostly contain water and sugars. The pulp has a bit of fiber and protein in it, but only a negligible amount. There is no significant caloric difference between a piece of fruit and fresh-squeezed juice of that same fruit. But it takes a lot of pieces of fruit to create a single glass of juice, so the latter will contain the calories of all the fruit that was squeezed to make it. Finally, many juice makers will add sugar/HFCS to make their juice to make it more sweet, and this naturally adds more calories. Make sure the bottle says 100% juice, otherwise it ain't.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:40 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


you lose a lot of... I dunno what the exact term is but I want to say digestive opportunity when you drink juice vs eating a fruit.

The term you're looking for is "dietary fiber".

Dobbs: Can you explain where you've heard that fruit juice is "fattening"? I can see where some would say that about fruit "drinks" like Hi-c, but that would be more from the sweeteners in them; or smoothies, but that may be because of the other ingredients added to the fruit (yogurt, milk, etc.). As for full-fruit "nothing but fruit run through a blender" juice, I'm not sure that would be fattening either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 PM on January 11, 2011


How many oranges in a glass of orange juice? Four or five medium oranges for a small to medium glass? Would you ever sit down and eat that many oranges (or more) back to back, and on top of a meal to boot? Whatever form they take, they have the same amount of calories.
posted by SassHat at 6:51 PM on January 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm thinking that you might consider fruit juice "fattening" because it's high in calories, doesn't make you feel very full (so it's easy to O.D. on), and often isn't so great in the nutrition department. I've read that apple juice, for example, isn't much better than soda, nutrition-wise.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 6:52 PM on January 11, 2011


Dietary fibre keeps you full longer. You would (probably) find it difficult to drink six glasses of fruit juice that contains all the pulp during one day. Or at least, if you did do so, you would probably automatically decrease the amount of food you ate that day, because you would not be very hungry.

It is, on the other hand, very easy to drink six glasses of non-pulp-containing fruit juice in one day and not feel the least bit satisfied. So people who drink a lot of (non-pulpy) juice may be taking in more calories than they burn, and may find they put on weight. People who drink pulpy juice are less likely to experience this.
posted by lollusc at 6:52 PM on January 11, 2011


Pulp has a lot of insomnia fiber that your body can't digest and which it excretes as shit.
posted by dfriedman at 6:53 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everything can be fattening if you eat a lot of it. Your body can convert any excess Calories into fat. Fruit juice is fattening because it's so much easier to ingest the Calories when compared with regular fruit. I'll use orange juice as an example. According to USDA database an 8 fl. oz. (240mL) of orange juice contains 134 Calories (in USDA terminology Calories = kcal). One raw Florida orange contains 69 Calories.

Essentially you have to eat two oranges to get the same Calories as a glass of orange juice. Ask yourself what's more likely to happen? A person drink two glasses of orange juice or eat two orange in a meal.

When you put a fruit into a blender and liquify it you made it easier to consume more of it.
posted by Carius at 6:56 PM on January 11, 2011


Multiple books I've read have said that a glass of juice has the same effect on you as a soft drink. I suppose fattening is not strictly the right word but the gist was that if you're trying to lose weight, you shouldn't drink either. And yes, I think they're talking about glycemic index.

However, most books I've read on the topic are talking about traditional juice--ie, the juice squeezed from an orange or something, with the rest of the fruit discarded.

I'm talking about the entire fruit, blended. For instance, I am right now enjoying this:

1 granny smith apple
a quarter of a small pineapple
two handfuls of blueberries
a banana
a tangerine

all blended together in their entirety (except the pineapple skin and core) with two cups of water.

If I'm trying to lose weight, should i not drink this?
posted by dobbs at 6:57 PM on January 11, 2011


Pulp has a lot of insomnia fiber

I think you mean insoluble but I sort of like your version. The VikingSword comment on the matter is the explanation I keep coming back to.
posted by jessamyn at 6:59 PM on January 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also note that I'm not drinking this WITH my dinner but AS my dinner.

And basically it has the consistency of a not-to-thick milkshake. And it's delicious. (My blender is a giant thing that normally you wouldn't see outside of a Booster Juice type drinkbar, complete with crazy sound enclosure so as not to scare the neighbors).

Also, I sometimes put other fruits (peaches, oranges, limes, whatever's handy, actually) into it. It always tastes good. I have yet to figure out how to make a bad smoothie.
posted by dobbs at 7:00 PM on January 11, 2011


I'm talking about the entire fruit, blended. [...] If I'm trying to lose weight, should i not drink this?

The answer is no, you shouldn't drink it. VikingSword's comments I linked to above were about blended fruit vs. whole fruit, not about the kind of juice you buy at the store.
posted by vorfeed at 7:01 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was always under the impression that fruit, period, is basically pure sugar (albeit with some fiber and lots and lots of vitamins) -- and therefore something you shouldn't eat a lot of if you're trying to lose weight.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:02 PM on January 11, 2011


If I'm trying to lose weight, should i not drink this?

If you're trying to lose weight you should be keeping track of your calories and giving yourself a reasonable estimation of how many calories are in your drink and then deducting that from whatever your daily allotment is.

You may also want to add some substitutions such as nonfat yogurt [for protein] flax seed oil [for omega3] or other nutrients. As it is you're getting an okay amount of fiber, some potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and a bunch of carbs, mostly sugars. I've been using this website to see what nutritive value foods do and do not have.
posted by jessamyn at 7:04 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, it looks like the linked VikingSword answer actually answers my question perfectly.

Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 7:06 PM on January 11, 2011


If you're counting calories:

1 medium apple: 95 calories
a quarter of a small pineapple: 100 calories
1/2 cup blueberries: 41 calories
a banana: 105 calories
a tangerine: 47 calories

Total: 388 calories

That's a pretty low calorie dinner. It's probably chock-full of vitamins as well. But does it really satisfy? If not, Jessamyn has a great suggestion: add some yogurt for protein, and you might find it lasts a lot longer.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:18 PM on January 11, 2011


It was pretty darn filling. It was three 14 oz glasses of smoothie. (I did sneak some low-fat cottage cheese into it as well.) It was filling enough to hold me to breakfast, which will be a bigger meal, probably two Salmon fillets and some roast carrots. (I'm trying to have dinner be my smallest meal, which I've also heard is a good plan if you're trying to lose weight.)

That said, the idea of counting calories makes me want to not ever eat again or eat everything in sight. It's simply not something I'm capable of doing though I'm sure people who do do it don't find it super challenging.

Thanks, tho, bluedaisy, jess, and everyone else.
posted by dobbs at 7:25 PM on January 11, 2011


Dobbs, if you don't count calories (which isn't fun for me, actually), tracking everything you eat by writing it down can be really useful. It can help you see patterns and habits, and, for example, see when you are indulging, etc. I find it useful even without calories. Good luck!
posted by bluedaisy at 7:31 PM on January 11, 2011


What about blending vegetables instead. You could add an apple or pear to sweeten it up a bit. A juice made of beets, celery, parsley, carrots and an apple is remarkably refreshing.
posted by wherever, whatever at 7:49 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dobbs, if you don't count calories (which isn't fun for me, actually), tracking everything you eat by writing it down can be really useful. It can help you see patterns and habits, and, for example, see when you are indulging, etc. I find it useful even without calories. Good luck!

Better yet, if you put your meals into a site like FitDay, it'll figure out the calories for you. It'll also figure your fat/carb/protein ratio and list the nutrients you are (and aren't) getting enough of.
posted by vorfeed at 7:57 PM on January 11, 2011


dobbs--

I make a similar drink, but about 1/3 fruit and 2/3 greens--spinach works nicely, as does chard. Kale not so much.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 8:38 PM on January 11, 2011



I think you mean insoluble but I sort of like your version.


Sorry, iPhone typo. Yes, insoluble.
posted by dfriedman at 8:39 PM on January 11, 2011


As an aside to the "should I be drinking this?" question: my nutritionist (who works with my doctor and the entire clinic system at the local university medical hospital) said that the one and only item she would take entirely out of my diet would be fruit juice. "Unless it's turned into wine," she said. So. Creme brulee? In. Potato chips? In. Bacon? In. (all in moderation, of course.) Fruit juice, though? OUT.
posted by KathrynT at 10:09 PM on January 11, 2011


Here's another thread about this topic which covers the salient points.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:16 PM on January 11, 2011


Er, here.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:16 PM on January 11, 2011


You are getting conflicting answers because the science isn't clear. VikingSword's comment explains that blood sugar wise whole fruit is much better than blended fruit, but blood sugar is only one part of health, and smoothies are only one part of your diet. If you are an active person, you may well have no problems with blended fruit as part of a healthy diet. It really depends on the person. In children for example, even drinking fruit juice has no association with being overweight. Fruit contains many things that are very good for you, so the fact that you can eat more fruit in a smoothie may be a good thing. Also, as the study VikingSword cited, bioavailability of many nutrients is better when they are liquefied. Personally I do add some nuts and flaxseed to my smoothies (and spinach or kale if it is supposed to be a meal) because I do think that that is better for the glycemic response and also because the fats may help with the absorption of some nutrients.
posted by davar at 2:40 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I drink a green smoothie every day (like Ideal Impulse describes) because it is the only way I've found to force myself to ingest fruits and vegetables. I've been steadily losing weight. If you really like the smoothie idea, add some leafy greens.
posted by Mavri at 4:13 AM on January 12, 2011


Davar's answer is wise. Glycemic index is only part of the story. It is most relevant to diabetics and people at high risk for diabetes (like those with pre-diabetes or glucose intolerance). I don't believe there is clear evidence that GI is relevant to weight control. As someone seeking to lose weight, calories are your primary concern. I would say go ahead and have your smoothies, just not every day.
posted by reren at 4:36 AM on January 12, 2011


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