Dr. Julie Palmer says don't get fooled into drinking OJ
What could be healthier for you than a icy cold glass of orange juice, right? What could be more Americana and good for you than that?! I mean it comes from freshly-squeezed oranges which are grown on trees, so it HAS to be better for you than sugary soda, doesn't it? Wellllllll, not exactly as a new study published in a major medical journal from researchers out of Boston University revealed this week.
Lead researcher Dr. Julie Palmer, a senior epidemiologist from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, looked at the connection between both fruit juice and sugary soda to Type 2 diabetes as part of the enlightening and still-ongoing prospective Black Women's Health Study featuring a whopping 59,000 African-American women from across the United States. Because Type 2 diabetes has hit the black female population especially hard increasing exponentially in the past few years (double that of white women), Dr. Palmer wanted to find out specifically why and what she discovered is gonna shock a whole lotta people.
Initial questionnaires went sent out to the study participants in 1995 to obtain baseline information on height, weight, demographic characteristics, medical history, usual diet and other factors. Then follow-up questionnaires soliciting information with updates on various health conditions, lifestyle changes, and diet among other things have been sent out every two years ever since to see if there are any marked changes in the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes or other such diseases.
In all, 2,713 of the study participants (about 4.5 percent) developed Type 2 diabetes in the first ten years since the study began that paralleled with those women who increased their consumption of both sugary sodas and fruit drinks. According to the study, women who drank 2+ sodas per day experienced a 24 percent increase in getting Type 2 diabetes than those who drank less than one soft drink in a month.
Interestingly, Dr. Palmer also found a curious connection between fruit juice and Type 2 diabetes as well. Those women in the study who drank 2+ servings of this "healthy" drink alternative to sugary soda, primarily at breakfast time, saw a 31 percent increase in diabetes risk compared to those who had less than one glass of fruit juice each month.
I can remember growing up how much I LOVED drinking Sunny Delight orange juice. And my mom faithfully bought it for me, my brother Kevin, and sister Beverly thinking it was a "healthy" option since it was derived from fruit. Surely this had to be better than all that soda we would be drinking instead, right? Boy, we couldn't have been more wrong if we tried--and we have to blame it partially on the aggressive marketing of the juice lobby led by groups like the Juice Products Association who are in full spin-mode right now promoting juice as playing "an important role in a healthy diet." NOT!
Some will argue that it's fruit and that alone should make it healthy. While I sincerely believe both whole fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet (including a low-carb one, by the way!), it's a blatant copout to say they're all good for you when clearly they are not. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, and honeydew are excellent choices for fruit in the latter stages of your low-carb life management plan. But juicing even any of these fruits simply concentrates the sugar that much more and you just don't need it. Can you imagine all the sugar you'd be adding to your body with apple, pineapple, or orange juice? EEEEEEK! No thanks! I don't need to get Type 2 diabetes.
The take-home message from this study is that fruit juice is equal if not MORE harmful to your risk for Type 2 diabetes as sugary soda is and should be avoided for the same reasons. Most of the people reading this at my blog are saying to themselves, "well duh?!" But ask just about anyone you know which of the two is healthier between fruit juice and sugary soda and you're gonna have a virtually unanimous choice for the fruit juice. My answer would be NEITHER and I haven't drank either one since I started livin' la vida low-carb in January 2004. And I have NO intentions of EVER doing so again.
Dr. Palmer said fruit drinks were favored over sugary soda by the participants in the study and that fruit drink consumption in the United States has doubled since the late 1970s. This along with the strong marketing of fruit juice as "healthy" beginning in the 1980s and still to this day has led us to higher and higher rates of Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Palmer noted.
"The public should be made aware that these drinks are not a healthy alternative to soft drinks with regard to risk of type 2 diabetes," she exclaimed.
This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and was published in the July 28, 2008 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
You can e-mail Dr. Julie Palmer about her study at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See what some of my fellow low-carbers had to say about this study on fruit juice:
- Dr. Jonny Bowden
- Connie Bennett
- Discussion at my forum
- Carol Bardelli
- Low-Carb Friends
- Sean Kelley