New research reveals an unexpected gap in the diet of over 80% of Australians.
Fruit juice, it’s just one of the many sugar-containing foods that the anti-sugar activists say we should remove from our diet. But surprisingly, new research doesn’t support the idea of ditching the juice completely. Results from the 2011-2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey have this year been re-analysed by the CSIRO through funding provided by The Australian Beverages Council of which Fruit Juice Australia is a division of. This survey was a part of the Australian Health Survey and collected information about the eating and drinking habits, physical activity and weight status of Australians.
Surprisingly, the data showed that 81% of children and 93% of adults did not meet their daily fruit recommendations from eating fruit alone. “But when fruit juice was also counted as a fruit serve, the percentage of Australians who reached their daily recommended fruit target more than doubled,” said Malcolm Riley Research Scientist at CSIRO Food and Nutrition who led the analysis of the Australian Health Survey 2011-2012 data. This findings suggest that fruit juice could be an option for many Australians needing to get the goodness of fruit into their diet.
So just how much fruit should we be eating and what does a serve look like? According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, adults should be consuming two serves of fruit each day with a serve equalling 150g (equivalent to one medium piece of fruit such as banana or two smaller pieces of fruit like apricots). While whole fruit is preferred as it provides valuable fibre, fruit juice with no added sugar or dried fruit can occasionally contribute to the daily fruit target. A serve of fruit juice with no added sugar is equivalent to 125ml or ½ cup. Sticking to recommended serving sizes means you don’t need to be worried about consuming too much energy and sugar from fruit juice either, with the analysis of the Australian Health Survey 2011-2012 revealing that fruit juice contributed only about 1% of energy and 3.5% of sugar across the population. Fruit juice was also found to provide around 60% of total vitamin C, 16% of folate and 14% of potassium amongst people who consumed juice in the survey.
Supermodel, author and mum, Robyn Lawley, who is known for her stance against fad diets and passion for real food, has come out in support of these findings. “I am passionate about enjoying real foods as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle,” said the new mum. “Australia’s citrus growers produce some of the best quality fruit juice in the world, so knowing that an occasional glass of juice is perfectly ok is good news for all,” she added.
But before you go racing to your closest juice bar, dietitian Rachel de Montemas says it’s important to make sure you get a few things right. “Your fruit juice of choice needs to contain no added sugar and portion control is a must. Most pre-packaged or freshly purchased juices are larger than the recommended 125ml, so it’s easy to consume two or three times more than you need. While eating the whole fruit is preferred, an occasional, portion-controlled serve of fruit juice is another tasty way for Australians to reach the recommended daily fruit intake. If you’re making your own juice, just remember to never juice more pieces of fruit than you would eat in a sitting.”
Photo Credit: Fruit Juice Australia
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.