Barbara Burke

Good For You

By Barbara Burke

Wednesday, July 14, 1999

Beware of sugar
in fruit juices

IT'S easy to become dehydrated during hot weather. By the time you realize you are thirsty, you may have already lost two or more cups of body fluids. What's more, thirst isn't a foolproof mechanism for signaling dehydration. This is especially true for children and the elderly as well as for others during hot weather, illness or strenuous physical activity.

In addition to thirst, dehydration symptoms include dry mouth, flushed skin, fatigue, headache and impaired physical performance. More severe dehydration can result in muscle spasms, poor blood circulation, kidney failure and possibly even death. One of the easiest ways to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle close at hand and drink frequently throughout the day.

Water needs vary depending upon diet, physical activity and climate. In general, a person who expends 2,000 calories a day needs two to three liters of water. That's the equivalent of eight to 12 cups of water daily. This water can come from several sources, including other beverages and solid foods. Avoid beverages containing caffeine as they have a diuretic effect.

Some people opt for fruit juice thinking they are getting a nutrition boon along with fluid replacement. But shopping for fruit juice can be tricky, according to Bonnie Liebman and Jayne Hurley of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

When a product's name contains the words "beverage," "ade," "cocktail," "drink" or (sometimes) "blend," you're getting something other than 100-percent juice. It is likely made from a water-and-high-fructose corn syrup base, to which apple or white grape juice may be added. Some products may contain a few thimblesful of a more exotic juice (such as mango, kiwi or strawberry) for which you generally pay more, report the CSPI nutritionists.

TO find the most nutritious products, become a food-label sleuth. Look for "100 percent juice" on the label. Federal law requires that the percentage of juice be listed. Don't confuse "100 percent juice" with "100 percent natural." The latter tells you nothing about the content of the product.

Below you will find CSPI's review of three popular drinks:

Bullet V8 Splash combines "just enough luscious pineapple, kiwi, and mango" (or other exotic fruits) with carrot juice "to create a thirst-quenching beverage that will please everyone in your family." This sales pitch translates to 25 percent juice and 75 percent sugar-water.

Bullet Fruitopia has "100% vitamin C per serving" in flavors like Strawberry Passion Awareness. Although fortified with Vitamin C, the product contains only about 5 percent strawberry juice and 95 percent high-fructose corn syrup.

Bullet Mystic Mango Mania Fruit Drink has mangoes all over the label. But the product doesn't contain any mango, unless it is included in the "natural flavors." You're getting roughly 3 percent white grape juice and 97 percent sugar water.

CSPI's recommends 100-percent orange, grapefruit, prune and pineapple juices if you're looking for the most nutritious products. Juices that contain just 2 or 3 percent sugar, like some ruby-red grapefruit juices, also made it to the top of the organization's list.

Is there such a thing as drinking too much juice? Absolutely. A cup of 100 percent orange juice has about 110 calories. If you're sipping juice all day long instead of water, don't be surprised if you gain weight.

Another thing: Even 100 percent fruit juice is high in sugar. Babies should be offered fruit juice in a cup, not a bottle. Prolonged exposure to the natural sugars in fruit juice can result in tooth decay.

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor
who has been teaching and writing about food
and nutrition since 1975.

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