Spring has finally arrived, and for those of us living in colder climes, the warm weather can’t come soon enough. One of the changes that so many foodies commonly associate with the vernal equinox is a shift from warm, cozy winter drinks to cool, refreshing summer beverages—we know we’ve got them on our minds already!

It’s also true that every year, many of us will attempt (perhaps not for the first time) to wean ourselves off of unhealthy, sugary sodas and energy drinks. At first glance, fruit juice seems like a natural alternative for those with a persistent sweet tooth, but a deeper look reveals that these juices have some pitfalls we need to be aware of.

Reaching For A Glass of Fruit Juice

Eating fruit is one of the healthiest choices you can make for your body and your lifestyle. It’s common knowledge, but worth repeating: almost every fruit has some health benefits, as fruits are naturally chock full of the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that our body needs to function and fight off disease.

So fruit juice, especially the fresh squeezed variety, should be just as healthy—right?

Health Pitfalls of Juice

In fact, the answer is not so simple. Although fruit juices do contain healthy antioxidants and vitamins, they often contain essentially zero dietary fiber. This fiber content, linked to numerous health benefits, is one of the most important reasons whole fruit is good for you. Fibers slow down the absorption of fructose, so your body doesn’t receive it all in one shot, like when drinking a soda.

When preparing fruit juices, fibers are lost in the process. Also, fruit juices are often very high in sugar content. In fact, many popular juices contain more grams of sugar than an equivalent serving of soda. Without the fibers, your body absorbs sugars faster, resulting in energy spikes and eventual crashes.

Check out this index from Harvard Medical School for more information about sugar content.

Healthier Alternatives

The bottom line is that many Americans reach for a glass or bottle of juice believing they’ve made a healthy choice. But in reality, drinking large quantities of fruit juice can be just as damaging as a soda habit. Namely, excessive fruit juice consumption can lead to obesity and related diseases.

You can still enjoy a good, real fruit juice, though. Just be aware of what you’re consuming despite its apparent health value. We recommend eating whole fruit—so you get the fiber your body needs—and replacing fruit juice with water whenever possible. This way, you’ll get the full spectrum of health benefits from your fruit.