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, except for fiber.

What 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% 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 and Insoluble Fiber in Fruit

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

  • 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.

It's the lack of fiber in fruit juice that can give it a poor rep. Without fiber to build bulk and make you feel full, you can easily consume more calories and fructose than you intended. This may affect your blood sugar and trigger weight gain.

Effects on Blood Sugar

Some people are reluctant to drink fruit juice out of fear that it will raise blood sugar more than whole fruit. But 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 it showed 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 or a registered dietitian if you are unsure how much fruit you can consume without affecting your blood sugar.

Fruit Juice Interactions

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

Grapefruit contains compounds known as furanocoumarins that inhibit an enzyme 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 fruits, such as tangelos and Seville oranges, also contain concerning amounts of furanocoumarins, so it may be important to limit or avoid these fruits and their juices if you take certain medicines. 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.

Buying Fruit Juice

When shopping for fruit juice, look for products marked "100% fruit juice" with no added sugar. Even then, be sure to read the label closely since, some juices are blended and contain multiple fruits (and occasionally other ingredients). 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 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 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.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Tappy L, Lê K-A. Metabolic effects of fructose and the worldwide increase in obesityPhysiol Rev. 2010;90(1):23-46. doi:10.1152/physrev.00019.2009

  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

By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.