For many of us, waking up with a glass of orange, apple or even grapefruit juice is an integral part of their morning routine.
But a new study has found an extra 12 oz (340ml) glass of fruit juice could increase the risk of early death by almost a quarter (24 per cent) – while the risk is 11 per cent for other sugary drinks like soda.
The new research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), compared – for the first time – 100 percent fruit juices with sugar-sweetened drinks like Coke and lemonade.
After analysing data from 13,440 people through questionnaires, it found that higher death rates were associated with consuming all sugary drinks – including 100 per cent fruit juices.
The researchers, from Emory University in Atlanta and Cornell University in New York, found that over a six year follow up, there were 1,000 deaths from any cause and 168 deaths from coronary heart disease.
After factoring in obesity and other related issues, those with the highest intake had an 11 percent increased risk of dying from any cause for every extra 12oz glass of sugary drink consumed, and a 24 percent increased risk for every extra 12oz of fruit juice.
“These results suggest higher consumption of sugary beverages, including fruit juice, is associated with increased mortality,” the researchers stated, adding in another part of the study: “The nutrient content of 100 percent fruit juices and SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages) is very similar.
“While 100 percent fruit juices contain some vitamins and phytonutrients that are missing from most SSBs, the predominant ingredients in both are sugar and water.
“Although the sugar in SSBs is added during processing and the sugar in 100 percent fruit juice occurs naturally, the specific sugars they provide for the body to process are essentially the same, and the biochemical response when metabolized (sic) is the same.”
While obesity remains a major factor, once taken out of the equation, the researchers explained that sugary drinks can often increase insulin resistance.
Meanwhile, fructose (found in fruit juices) alters blood lipid levels, markers of inflammation and blood pressure, while high glucose consumption has been associated with insulin resistance and diabetes.
Dr Gunter Kuhnle, associate professor in nutrition and health at the University of Reading, told ITV: “This is a very important study, especially as fruit juices are often seen as a ‘healthy’ alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages, even though they often contain much more sugar (especially smoothies).
“Fruit juices can provide vitamins and even some fibre, but there is little health benefit beyond this: the amount of phytochemical found in juices is too low to have any further beneficial effect, and there is no beneficial health effect from so-called antioxidants.
“If the association is shown to be causal (which we don’t know yet), this would have a number of implications: first of all, it would suggest that it does not matter whether sugary drinks are lemonades or fruit juices.
“This is important, as fruit juices and smoothies are not commonly perceived as sugary drinks.
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“Secondly, it would suggest purported health benefits of fruit juices are not sufficient to counteract their sugar content.”