Why You Should Eat Fruits and Vegetables Instead of Drinking Juice

apples are healthier than apple juice“Don’t drink your calories” is good advice if you’re trying to watch your weight, even if it’s fruit juice you’re drinking.

Researchers gave 34 young men and women—half were overweight or obese and half were lean—roughly 400 to 550 calories a day of either solid food (fruits and vegetables) or fruit juices.

(Each participant got enough food or juice to comprise 20 percent of his or her usual calorie intake.)

The solid food, which came to six to eight servings a day, was 10 percent vegetables (raw carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower), 35 percent fresh fruit, and 55 percent dried fruit.

After eight weeks on the fruits and vegetables, the people in the lean group compensated for the extra food by cutting back on their usual diets. They gained no weight. However, they gained about 3½ pounds after eight weeks on the juice.

The overweight and obese participants fared worse. They gained four pounds after eight weeks on the fruits and vegetables and five pounds after eight weeks on the juice.


What to do: Eat fruits and vegetables instead of drinking juice.

And don’t assume that you can’t gain weight by loading up on veggies and fruit (especially dried fruit, which is calorie dense).

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of—not in addition to—higher-calorie foods.

Source: Obesity doi:10.1038/oby.2011.192.

Other relevant fruit and juice links:

3 Replies to “Why You Should Eat Fruits and Vegetables Instead of Drinking Juice”

  1. How much juice are they consuming in the study, especially how much fruit juice? Vegetable juice is totally different in sugar content and thus calories (except carrot, for one). So if you consume more green veggie juice and/or mix with carrot juice AND eat more veggies, you should be healthier without gaining weight. No study required.

  2. Would be helpful to know if researchers were using commercial juices from concentrates or fresh juice with no additives.

    1. Excellent question. This is the information provided in the study about the food used.

      Food load
      The dietary load was based on 20% of each individual’s estimated energy requirement (Harris Benedict equation with an activity factor of 1.55) and rounded to the nearest 50 kcal (between 400–550 kcal/day). The solid dietary energy load was comprised of 10% vegetables. This amount of raw carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower was ∼1.3–2.8 servings of vegetables/day based on the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (26). 90% of the dietary energy load was fruit (40% as fresh fruit and 60% as dried fruit). Total servings of vegetables and fruits were 6–8 per day. The beverage load included commercially available juices that corresponded to fruits consumed during the solid study arm. Wheat dextrin was added to the beverages to match the soluble fiber intake during the solid arm. All fresh fruits and vegetables were washed, portioned, and provided ready to eat. Participants picked up their foods at least weekly.

      Here’s a link to the study Beverage vs. solid fruits and vegetables: effects on energy intake and body weight.

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