Should I Avoid Drinking Fruit Juice?

The benefits (almost always) outweigh the concerns

Fruit juice

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Some people believe that fruit juice is bad for your health because it is high in a natural sugar called fructose. Many of those beliefs were drawn from reports about the dangers of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a sweetener made from processed corn starch that is linked to insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Though fruit juice and HFCS both contain fructose, fruit juice is an entirely different creature with more benefits to your health than risks. Moreover, fruit juice isn't like sugary soft drinks that have no nutritional value. It contains the same nutrients found in whole fruit, only without the fiber.

What You Need to Know About Fruit Juice

Most Americans don't consume enough fruit, so drinking fruit juice can provide a healthy dose as long as you choose 100% fruit juice. So-called "fruit drinks" typically contain a small amount of juice and lots of added sugar, including HFCS.

A 6-ounce (3/4 cup) serving of 100-percent juice counts as one serving of fruit. Most of us should eat 1 to 2 cups of fruit per day (along with about 2 to 3 cups of vegetables).

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

It's the lack of fiber that gets a lot of people in trouble. Without fiber to build bulk and make you feel full, you can easily consume more calories and fructose than you realize. By doing so, you can potentially affect your blood sugar and trigger weight gain.

While fruit juice can satisfy this nutritional need, it should not be your only source of fruit. The soluble and insoluble fiber in whole fruit aids in digestion but offers other health benefits as well.

  • Soluble fiber draws water from the intestines to ease bowel movements but also binds to fat and sugar to slow their absorption into the bloodstream.
  • Insoluble fiber provides bulk to stools, normalizing bowel movements and preventing hemorrhoids. Fruit juice alone does not do this.

Effects on Blood Sugar

Although some people will tell you that drinking fruit juice will raise your blood sugar more than whole fruit, this is related more to the amount you consume than anything else.

According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Nutrition Science, 100% fruit juice had no significant effect on fasting blood glucose or fasting blood insulin and only minimal differences with the glycemic index (GI) of whole fruit.

As with any type of fruit, whole or juiced, you need to limit your intake if you have diabetes. Speak with your doctor if you are unsure how much fruit you can consume without affecting your blood sugar.

Possible Interactions

While drinking fruit juice in moderation can be beneficial to your health, certain citrus fruits can affect the way that pharmaceutical drugs work. For instance, Grapefruit juice is the type that is of greatest concern, affecting no fewer than 50 drugs used to treat everything from allergies to HIV.

Grapefruit contains a compound known as furanocoumarins that inhibits an enzyme called CYP3A4, which the body uses to break down certain medications. By inhibiting the metabolism of these drugs, grapefruit can cause drug concentrations to rise to potentially toxic levels.

Other citrus juices, such as Tangelos and Seville oranges, also contain concerning amounts of furanocoumarins. Oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes pose minimal risk, however.

While rich in vitamin C, citrus juices are also acidic and may need to be avoided if you have gastritis, peptic ulcer, or other stomach problems. The same applies to tomato juice.

Tips for Buying Fruit Juice

When shopping for fruit juice, only buy products marked "100% fruit juice" with no added sugar whenever possible. Even then, be sure to read the label closely since some juices are blended with other juices. For example, many exotic fruit juices, like pomegranate or acai, are blended with apple or grape juice to cut costs.

  • Avoid pasteurized juices. These have been super-heated to extend their shelf life. Pasteurization not only affects flavor but can also alter the nutritional value.
  • Don't assume "not from concentrate" is fresh. Many such products are stored for up to a year in oxygen-depleted tanks. By the time they are finally bottled, sedimentation and age will invariably affect their flavor and quality.
  • Pay attention to the sell-by date. As a general rule, if a fruit juice has a long sell-by date, it has probably undergone some sort of processing even if the label reads "100% pure."

Of course, for the freshest and healthiest juice, you could always invest in a juicer or high-speed blender and make your own at home. High-speed blenders pulverize the fruit so you keep the fiber that is traditionally lost in store-bought brands.

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Article Sources
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  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition. December 2020.

  3. Murphy MM, Barrett EC, Bresnahan KA, Barraj LM. 100 % Fruit juice and measures of glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trialsJ Nutr Sci. 2017;6:e59. doi:10.1017/jns.2017.63

  4. Bailey DG, Dresser G, Arnold JMO. Grapefruit-medication interactions: forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences? CMAJ. 2013;185(4):309-316. doi:10.1503/cmaj.120951

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