How to drink smarter: juice, fruit and water

photo by ThinkStock via Tri County Health Dept

photo by ThinkStock via Tri County Health Dept

Are fruit drinks contributing to the obesity and related chronic disease epidemics? Because there are so many variations to compare, it is difficult to lump all fruit drinks into one category. There are to name a few:

  • 100% fruit juices,
  • fruit juice cocktails,
  • fruit flavored sugary drinks like soda or Kool-Aid,
  • expensive, trendy, chic whole fruit and vegetable blended smoothies.

There has been some contention surrounding childhood obesity and fruit juice consumption but when it comes to 100% fruit juice, experts like as those at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic and others say there is not enough evidence to support a connection between consumption and weight gain when juice is consumed in moderation. For sugar sweetened beverages (fruit flavored or otherwise) there is a clear correlation including a higher incidence of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes among those who consume them regularly

So how do the fruit drink variations stack up? Here are some nutritional comparisons between an 8 ounce cup of juice, fruit drinks, and soda:

  • 100% fruit and veggie juice (V8 Fusion) – 112 calories, 25 grams sugar,
  • Cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray) – 110 calories, 28 grams sugar,
  • Fruit drink (Hi-C) – 107 calories, 30 grams sugar,
  • Fruit flavored soda – 137 calories, 33 grams sugar.

And a cup of fruit:

  • Raspberries – 64 calories, 5 grams sugar,
  • Grapes – 104 calories, 23 grams sugar.

Although 100% fruit juice can have just as many or more calories as sugar sweetened beverages, juices contain only naturally occurring sugars while the others contain added sugar, often high fructose corn syrup. Juices also have nutrients often absent in their sweetened counterparts like vitamin C (helps in wound healing and iron absorption), vitamin A (helps with vision and maintains a strong immune system), and potassium (maintains good heart and muscle function). In the juicing and pasteurization processes, often times minerals are concentrated and vitamins are destroyed then added back in. When comparing fruit vs juice, fresh fruit has a lower amount of calories and sugar, and a higher amount of fiber.

Orange Juice – 8 oz 1 Medium Orange
Calories 122 62
Sugar 21 g 12 g
Fiber 1 g 3 g
Vitamin C 84 mg 70 mg
Vitamin A 5 µg 14 µg
Potassium 443 mg 237 mg


Apple Juice – 8 oz 1 Medium Apple
Calories 114 72
Sugar 24 g 14 g
Fiber 0 g 3 g
Vitamin C 26 mg 6mg
Vitamin A 0 µg 4 µg
Potassium 250 mg 148 mg


Compare for yourself your favorite fruit with its juice counterpart at the USDA’s MyPlate SuperTracker.

The recommendations for juice differ from various authoritative bodies. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, juice is not recommended for infants under 6 months, for children 1-6 years only about 4-6 ounces is appropriate, and for older kids and adults 8-12 ounces is enough. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2 cups of fruit per day which can be substituted by up to 16 ounces of 100% fruit juice but recommends no more than 4-6 ounce for children aged 2-5, while advocating getting fruit equivalents from fresh fruit rather than juice. If you’re juicing at home, instead of discarding the fibrous material, put some of it back to your juice drink, bake it into breads or muffins, or add it to sauces.

Whole Fruit

Fruit already has a great, natural flavor and sweetness, to create a different piquancy add herbs like chopped basil or mint, spices like cinnamon, cloves, or chili powder, or just a pinch of salt. Max Folkowitz, a New York food blogger suggests black pepper with mango and toasted black sesame seeds with watermelon, check out his other creative suggestions here. Make your own popsicles or fruit ice cubes by blending fruit and herbs with a little water and then freezing. Don’t forget two cups of fruit equals your total amount of servings recommend per day (one cup is equivalent to a whole medium banana or peach). Try to buy fruits that are in season and locally grown to save money and for best taste. My favorite dish to bring to a potluck is a fresh fruit salad with apples, grapes, nectarines, Cutie oranges and chopped mint.


To increase your water consumption, jazz it up! Add your homemade fruit ice cubes, a small amount of 100% juice (keep your juice consumption around 8 ounces for the day), or fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs. A few easy recipes are ginger, mint, and lemon or cucumber, jalapeño, and lime. Let your ingredients soak in a pitcher of water over night for lots of flavor. You can reuse the fruit a second time but discard after to prevent any bacteria growth. Bring a large water bottle to work or school that has a straw and mark your bottle with cups and times to be consumed by on the bottle. Start your morning or end your day with a soothing cup of herbal tea or warm water and lemon. If you’re having trouble remembering to drink enough, you can also download free water tracking apps like Water Alert. Drinking enough water aids in digestion, helps maintain clear skin, replenishes your body’s fluid needs, and helps prevent headaches or muscle cramps due to dehydration.

Copyright: All content © 2010-2019 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.