Who’d Walla drink all that sugar?

Posted on November 11th, 2009 by

(First in a sugary series)

When’s the last time you sat down to a bowl of 12 or 13 teaspoons of sugar? (Translation: just over a quarter cup of sugar. Translation: 52 grams of sugar. Translation: one-eighth of a pound of sugar. Translation: thirteen sugar cubes. Translation: a whole lotta grittiness in your mouth.)

The answer, I bet, is “Never! Who’d do such a thing?” However, if you’re a fan of those wonderful 16-ounce bottles of fruit juice found in the Marketplace, the answer is actually, “I ate the equivalent of 12 teaspoons of sugar the last time I drank a whole bottle of one of those.” Yep, that’s right; those healthful, delicious, “all natural” fruit juices deliver a walloping 52 grams of sugar in 16 ounces! (Straight orange juice has “just” 48.)

“But it’s good sugar…it’s all fruit juice, not high fructose corn syrup!” I hear you replying. It’s true that different sugars are metabolized by the body differently—and it’s also true that some evidence suggests that HFCS might be a particularly problematic sweetener for our bodies. [http://blogs.consumerreports.org/health/2008/10/high-fructose-c.html] But the bottom line is, even if it’s “all natural” honey, sugar is still sugar, and it’s just not a good idea to go around gulping down 52 grams of it on a regular basis.[1]

“But it’s not added sugar—it’s just naturally occurring sugar—sugar already in the fruit!” True, the juice in fruit juice is “natural,” but because juicing removes all the bulk (and most of the fiber!) of fruit, the sugars are (“unnaturally”) concentrated, making them far more dense than they are in an actual piece of fruit. If you were going to get 52 grams of sugar from eating fruit, you’d have to eat three and a half apples or oranges, or four and a half bananas.

When is the last time you ate four and a half bananas?

Next time you’re in the Marketplace, head right past that fancy refrigerated juice case. Pick up an apple or a banana or a kiwi at fruit island. And grab a couple of glasses of water (it’s free!). You’ll save yourself about 40 grams of sugar. Then you could have that cookie later, and really enjoy your sugar….

For more information, go to http://www.hookedonjuice.com/

Next time: Fruit juice versus soda: a sugar standoff. And…how much is too much?

[1] The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, for instance, recommends that sugar constitute no more than 25% of your daily calories. Translation: it should not be the base of your food pyramid.



  1. Angela Larson says:

    I know that juices have a lot of sugar in them, but what about when you make your own?

  2. Lisa Heldke says:

    Any juice is going to have a far greater concentration of sugar than its respective fruit (or vegetable), for the simple reason that you are eliminating all of its bulk–fiber, etc. Think about making orange juice; it can take SEVERAL oranges to make one measly glass of juice.

    So, in terms of getting your servings of fruit and veg each day, you’re better off eating the fruit straight–and having a glass of water alongside.

    Good question!