Is Fruit Juice Really Good For You?

For the longest time, fruit juice had been hailed to be really good or us. The consensus generally was that we should be drinking more of the stuff, and that that there weren’t any drawbacks to drinking fruit juice. This is still widely believed to be the truth.

But whether or not it actually is the truth is another matter altogether. In fact, with the progress of medical science and thanks to further research on fruit juice, we are learning more and more about the impact of fruit juice on our health – and the new findings don’t always support what we have believed up until now.


Let’s start with the five-a-day concept. It is common understanding that eating five portions of fruits a day has significant health benefits. In fact, according to the information widely available until recently, five-a-day was essential for our health.

That said, according to surveys, not a lot of people are able to meet that. It is thought that eating fruits can be inconvenient and at the same time, involves a lot of effort. Drinking fruit juices can be a more convenient alternative and provide the same range of health-promoting chemicals – in theory.

According to the Global Burden of Disease, a poor diet is the cause of one in five deaths. With that in mind, consuming more whole grains, fruits and vegetables can have great health benefits.

But this is not all there is to this story though, so read on to find out more.

Sugar is sugar is sugar?

Having lower weight was linked to increased fruit, vegetable and fruit juice consumption, according to a study funded by the European Commission called TheFood4Me. A national nutritional survey conducted in the US concluded that adults who drink pure juice have better insulin sensitivity and lower risk of obesity.

One key thing to notice in this research, and the one referred to before, is the fact that they aren’t purely based on fruit juice, and include other food groups, including vegetables. The main difference between fruits and vegetables is the sugar content – vegetables usually have little to none whereas fruits often have a sizeable amount of sugar.

Then there is further confusion because of what people often think of as fruit juice (including sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks etc) and pure fruit juice.

The sugar in fruits, called fructose, isn’t the same as the refined sugar that’s found in a lot of food items. But that does not mean you have a free license to have as much fruit as you want though, because the fructose is still sugar at the end of the day and will have the same effect on our insulin, although not quite as badly as refined sugar.

Pure fruit juice vs. Squash and cordial

So how do we define “fruit juice”? This gets confusing as the term often includes drinks that are sweetened with sugar which contain little juice (if any) from whole fruits.

Pure fruit juice has no added sugar, while fruit squash (with at least 30% fruit) and cordial (around 10% – 15% fruit) are a mixture of fruit pulp and sugar syrup.

These kinds of drinks have different effects on our health. Drinking sugar-sweetened fruit juice increases the risk of diabetes but when you drink pure fruit juice the impact isn’t as bad. This was the findings of 2 studies: a joint American and Chinese research of nearly 200,000 participants and another study conducted on children over 6 years old.

Health benefits

An extensive survey of the benefits of fruit and vegetables was done in 2017. According to the study, eating 5-7 portions of fruits and vegetables a day decreases premature death by 30%. The research also found that fruit juice is beneficial to our health.

Health-promoting chemicals can be found in both intact fruits and fruit juice. Drinking either citrus or other fruit juices, for one, lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or death from any cause, according to the said study.

Good nutrients

Juices contain nutrients that are good for our health, like Vitamin C, polyphenols and carotenoids. These nutrients are also present in the sugar-sweetened “juices”, but only in very limited amounts.

Vitamin C is linked to a longer life expectancy for men, reduced blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease.

Polyphenols have antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. A high intake of flavonoids, a type of polyphenol, cuts the risk of premature death. Anthocyanidins, another polyphenol, reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Polyphenols are responsible for the fruit’s colouring of red, purple and blue.

Carotenoids lower the risk of cancer. High intake of carotenoid can reduce the rate of breast cancer. Carotenoid gives the fruit its orange, yellow and red colour.


Another argument for not drinking fruit juice is that it doesn’t have a lot of fibre, in comparison to the actual fruits.

Fibre in the diet has a big impact on our digestion and also helps prevent things like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, but there isn’t enough fibre in Western diets.

Some people think of intact fruits as a substitute if they don’t drink the juice. But drinking juice is not a substitute of having the actual fruit. Often the reason why most of us drink juice is because we are feeling thirsty, and not because we want to eat more fruit.

But if you’re drinking fruit juice because you want the full health benefits of having fruits (including the fibre), having the fruits is the way to go.

Last words

Fruit juice was once believed to be absolutely good for our health. But the more the new researches discover, the more we realise that the age-old belief about fruit juice being absolutely great for our health is not the whole truth. In fact, the researches are going as far as to say that the high dose of sugar that most fruit juice delivers is nearly as bad as junk sugary drinks!

But of course it isn’t all bad either. Because some fruit juices do have beneficial impact on our health.

We should start looking at the benefits of the overall consumption of fruit juice. Pure fruit juice should not be seen as an alternative to intact fruit, and having it regularly can increase the beneficial chemicals in our bodies.

The important thing here is moderation. Pure fruit juice can be good for our health, but in moderation. A lot of it isn’t very good, especially for those suffering from conditions like Diabetes. So don’t completely cut it out of your diet, but don’t have too much of it either.

Balance is key.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.


  • The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris

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