Something a little different to my usual posts.
In August 2017 I was in india for a short break and popped to my local food store to pick up some juice. I was horrified when I got home and tried what I thought was a relatively healthy natural orange juice. Coming from the UK where orange juice actually tastes like oranges I thought perhaps the varieties of oranges are different in India and a lot sweeter than Californian or spanish oranges. However upon reading the small print on the back of the carton my suspicions were confirmed. This juice has more sugar than the average can of coke and is in fact a health hazard to children.
As many of you may or may not know since I have started my own brewery I have been passionate about what goes into our food and beverages. Although I am not a massive consumer of sugary soft drinks I do believe we should have a choice. Part of the responsibility to enable us to make our own decision lays with the product manufacturer/producer to give us the information we need to make our decisions.
You can therefore imagine my horror when I looked more closely at what I assumed to be a relatively healthy juice drink.
I would like to point out that nowhere on the packaging does it actually say this product is a fresh juice but rather misleads you to believe it is good for you. However if I was to produce a product as unhealthy as this and use misleading words such as goodness and power on the packaging I would hope that someone in the food standards authority or advertising watchdog would pull me up on it.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) India currently has a massive diabetes crisis with a known 8.7% of people between 20 and 70 suffering from the disease. These numbers are increasing every year due to the increase in sugar consumption though food and drink along with lifestyle changes. Unfortunately it is difficult when large food and beverage producers are marketing their products as healthy when they are clearly not.
The average can of Coca Cola has about 10% sugar or 33g per 330ml. Red Bull has 35.64g of sugar per 330ml serving so about the same as a can of Coca Cola. Now I can’t think of any parent that would allow their kids to drink a can of coke on a regular bases or any parent that would allow their child to drink Red Bull, however I know plenty of parents that would give their kids a serving of Real Orange which is about 64.35g of sugar per 330ml serving. That is more than double the sugar content of a can of Coca Cola. This includes the natural sugars that makes orange juice sweet anyway but also includes the 12.45% added sugar that makes this drink particularly unhealthy.
Now please don’t misunderstand me, I have no issue with sugary drinks and I believe that everyone should be allowed to make up their own minds, however when a company blatantly promotes a sugary drink as healthy I start to take offence. What is worse is that this carton specifically targets parents with children who may not have as much time in between dropping their kids to tuition or sports club to read the small print on the back of packaging. The packaging tells parents that they are doing something good for there children by choosing this product over another and if they want happy and healthy kids they should give this drink to their kids. In reality this carton is a diabetes bomb that has no justification for its health benefits. It in fact will have the exact opposite effect if consumed regularly or in volume.
“Now wait” you might say, “Isn’t fruit good for you?” Well the answer to this question is a little difficult than just yes or no, it really depends on how you consume your fruit. Yes fresh fruit is good for you however the action of juicing does two things. Firstly it removes a lot of the fiber found in the flesh of the fruit that is further removed in smooth carton juices with no bits. This essential fiber helps your body process the natural sugars present in fruit slower. This means there is a reduced chance of spiking blood sugar and the fruit will keep you energized for longer. Juiced fruit will tend to give you or your children a very sharp energy boost that will dissipate just as fast, and in some cases will leave you and your kids with less energy than before you had your juice. The second down side to juicing your fruit is the quantity of concentrated sugar in juice. To get one glass of fresh pressed juice (around 250ml) you would need three small oranges. If you were to eat three oranges if would fill you up far more than a glass of juice due to the fiber mentioned above. This means to get the same satisfaction from a glass of juice you would have to consume more juice than the equivalent fruit you would need to eat and therefore would probably consume more sugar with less fiber.
Fiber has been proven to help maintain steady blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and boosts digestion according to Dr Preeti Jain from Senior Dietitian at Action Cancer.
If you are looking for a healthier option to juice consider a homemade fruit smoothie. Although still not as good as fresh whole fruit this is far healthier than juice as it uses the whole fruit with a lot of the fiber. You can also make a smoothie healthier by adding fresh greens like spinach and kale along with seeds and nuts.
As mentioned I am not against sugary drinks or juice as I enjoy a glass of orange juice occasionally with a meal, however when I have a glass of juice I like to think that I have made the decision to have something sugary rather than having been tricked into it by false or misleading advertising. The title of this post may be a bit dramatic however I feel quite strongly about the dangers of excess sugar consumption for children and the knock-on health issues.