Should You Avoid Drinking Fruit Juice?

Sliced oranges and a glass of oj
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Some people believe fruit juice is bad for your health because it's high in a natural sugar called fructose, or 'fruit sugar.' But fruit juice isn't like sugary soft drinks that have no nutritional value beyond the sugar. Fruit juice contains the same nutrients that are found in whole fruit—it just doesn't have all the fiber.

Fiber is important. It helps to slow down the digestion and absorption of the natural sugars found in the fruit. It fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer. But fruit juice doesn't have the fiber, so it doesn't have the same effect as eating the whole fruit. Without the fiber, it's easier to take in more calories without realizing what you're doing.

No Fiber but Still Nutritious

Most people don't consume enough fruits and vegetables, so drinking fruit juice can add a serving or two of fruit to your daily total as long as you choose 100-percent fruit juice. Those other 'fruit drinks' that contain only a small amount of fruit juice and lots of added sugar or high fructose corn syrup don't count as a serving of fruit.

Six ounces—or 3/4 cup—of 100-percent fruit juice counts as one serving of fruit. Most of us need one to two cups of fruit every day (along with about two to three cups of vegetables). Enjoy drinking fruit juice, but eat some whole fruit too for the fiber.

Fruit juice is available at your local grocery store. There will be several varieties, and they'll be available in large bottles and single serving containers. The large containers or more economical, but single-serving packages are convenient and are good for brown bag lunches.

Tips for Buying the Healthiest Fruit Juice

When you shop for fruit juice, be sure to look for the words 100-percent fruit juice on the label. You should also peruse the ingredients list, which is especially important if you're buying juices such as pomegranate, acai, or other exotic fruit juices—they're frequently blended with apple or grape juice to cut costs. It's not that apple or grape juice are bad, but you're paying more for the little bit of exotic superfood fruit and not getting much of it.

For the freshest (and healthiest) juice, buy a high-speed blender and make it at home. High-speed blenders pulverize the fruit so you keep the fiber that's lost in most store-bought juices.

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Article Sources
  • The United States Department of Agriculture, "Tips to Help You Eat Fruits."
  • The United States Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020."