5 Reasons Why You Should Ditch Your Fruit Juice

Fruit Juice

Juice cleanses, juice bars, late night ads for juicing machines and the occasional celebrity endorsement all seem to be fueling a national juice-drinking craze. Fruit is healthy and fruit juice is a fast and convenient way to drink your nutrients, so what could possibly be wrong with a daily dose of orange, apple or cranberry juice or a trendy juice cleanse? More than you ever imagined! While I am a fan of green vegetable juices, most juices contain too much fruit and therefore sugar. Here are 5 thoughts on how fruit juice seriously undermines your health – and why you should quit the stuff:

1. Think of Your Morning O.J. as Soda – Minus the Bubbles

OK, so you swapped your favorite sugary soda for cranberry juice, thinking that it’s better for you. Though I applaud the effort to ditch the soda, replacing it with a fruit juice sugar-bomb is a lateral move. Unfortunately, most fruit juices – be they organic or otherwise — flood your body with just as much sugar as soda pop. For example, the average 12 oz. soda contains roughly 35 – 45 grams of sugar. The same amount of orange juice comes in at about 30 grams; apple delivers about 40 and pomegranate juice can top 45 grams. That is simply an insane amount of sugar to consume at one sitting, no matter what type of beverage it is. What’s an acceptable amount of sugar intake? Ideally, no more than 10 grams a day at the most, which certainly takes fruit juice off the table!

2. There’s Nothing to Chew On

Converting whole fruit into liquid requires a lot of processing. Along the way, the once healthy fruit gets pasteurized, pulverized, filtered, pureed and stored in massive vats for months at a time – all of which chips away at the nutrients, vitamins and belly-filling fiber the fruit started out with. Then, they pump the liquefied fruit full of sugar. All that added extra sugar spikes your blood sugar because there’s no fiber to slow its release into the blood stream. Next, you get the crash, followed by hunger and cravings, none of which you’d experience had you eaten the whole fruit instead. And be aware of clever marketing claims. No matter how they parse it, a glass of juice – with “pulp” or without, organic or otherwise – is not nutritionally equivalent to whole fruit, nor will it ever be. Remember, fruit juice consumption is not an acceptable short-cut on the road to good health – it’s more like the highway to health problems – so grab a real, whole, organic piece of fruit and start chewing!

3. How About a Tall Glass of Diabetes and Heart Disease?

Another problem with a diet that’s heavy on fruit juice? Recent studies have indicated that it’s linked with increased insulin resistance and diabetes risk, whereas whole fruit consumption appears not to have the same health-eroding effect. Fruit juices aren’t kind to your ticker either, according to one Harvard study. In it, researchers reported that daily doses of sugary drinks boosted heart disease risk in men. Fruit juices fall under the sugary drink umbrella, so my advice is to avoid all of them if you want to keep your heart, insulin levels, and waistline in check. 

4. Hope You Like Going to the Dentist

If sugar highs and lows, increased insulin resistance, heart disease and diabetes risk weren’t enough of a disincentive, then at least consider your teeth. The acids in fruit juices, not to mention the mounds of sugar, can take a big bite out our your tooth enamel, resulting in weak spots that can blossom into costly cavities, which will eventually need fixing. If the damage is significant enough, tooth bonding or crowns might also be needed to patch up the mess, so your wallet takes a hit as well. At that point you need to ask yourself if a fruit juice habit is really worth the damage, hassle and expense? Didn’t think so.

5. Did You Know 12 Oranges Died to Make Your Glass of Juice?

In other words, it takes a heck of a lot of raw fruit materials and resources to produce a bottle of juice. Considering the resources used to fuel industrial farming operations – the pesticides, the millions of gallons of water for irrigation and the trucking all that fruit and juice – your morning beverage gives the earth a black-eye as well. Once again, you have to ask, is it worth it to batter your external and internal environments just for a fix of bottled sugar water? 

BE WELL BONUS: 5 Tips to Help You Kick The Habit

For those of you with a serious juice jones, kicking can be easier said than done, so here are a few pointers on how taper off and kick the juice bottle for good:

  1. Buy green juices with as little fruit and sugar as possible. The less sugar the better.
  2. Cut your dose. In a tall glass, add lots of ice, plus 3 – 4 parts water or seltzer to 1 part fruit juice.
  3. Make your own. Blend your (unpeeled) fruit and add water. Toss in spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and a drop of stevia if needed.
  4. Try a shot glass of portion control. In the morning, drink your O.J out of a 1-ounce shot glass, and only one of them!
  5. Grow up – and switch to tea. It’s time. Tea is where it’s at. It’s tastes great and its body benefits are legion.

For a few pointers on making the switch to tea, check out my Drink Your Way Healthy post.  

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  • Diane Welland

    As a registered
    dietitian working with the Juice Products Association I want to point out that
    the statements Dr. Lippman made about juice are just not true. One hundred
    percent fruit juice does contain the same vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
    as whole fruit and has no added sugar. Like the fruit it comes
    from, juice is high in important nutrients like vitamins A, C, folate,
    potassium and magnesium. And, in appropriate amounts (an 8 ounce serving)
    100% fruit juice can and should be a part of a healthy diet. With regard
    to chronic illness, studies show people who drink 100% fruit juice have better
    quality diets and eat more whole fruit than non-juice drinkers. They also
    have higher intakes of dietary fiber and lower intakes of added sugar.
    Wouldn’t that make them healthier than non-juice drinkers? Visit http://www.juicecentral.org for more information.

  • Leigh Ann Dickey

    I would like to point out that this article seems targeted to store bought juices, which are in no comparison to juicing fresh, organic fruits and vegetables at home using a slow-masticating juicer, which by the way preserves the nutrients. Juicing is one of the best things you can do for your health and so this article is a little misleading. Of course, everything in moderation, right? Juicing can lead to digestion problems from lack of fiber, tooth decay, and malnutrition if a person gets to carried away. Juicing should be used for energy, longevity, and vitality and for the occasional juice cleanse to restore digestion – in this case it can help to give your GI tract a break. I recommend my clients to juice once a day in the morning to cleanse and restore and boost energy. It’s like an IV of vitamins and nutrients to the body! :O) JMHO from someone who has seen the amazing benefits of juicing fruits and vegetables! — Coach Leigh

  • Saskia Lytle-Vieira

    Diane, thanks for sharing your perspective. Unfortunately, the lack of fiber in juice and its propensity to quickly increase insulin production make juice an unhealthy choice for daily, long term consumption. Juice and other products containing high amounts of quickly absorbed carbohydrates (fructose) are contributing to non alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is a precursor to diabetes and is affecting millions of Americans. This is why, as a physician, I do not recommend that my patients drink juice.

  • Saskia Lytle-Vieira

    Leigh, the issue is the large amount of quickly digestible carbohydrates that people are drinking in juices, whether home made or store bought. It doesn’t matter if the juice was made with a slow masticating juicer, you’re still getting an enormous amount of fructose that goes directly to the liver. Chronic fructose exposure is equivalent to chronic alcohol exposure (to the liver). The fructose gets converted to fat in the liver. Fructose induces insulin resistance. As a physician, the only way I recommend juicing to my patients is to use as many green vegetables as possible, with a very small amount of low glycemic fruit such as berries included. Actually, instead of juicing I recommend putting what I just suggested into a blender, then you don’t lose the fiber. That will slow insulin secretion.

  • Leigh Ann Dickey

    Yes, I personally prefer blending or smoothies as opposed to juicing, for various reasons, however, juicing a small amount of green apple with mostly green vegetables is in no comparison to consuming alcohol or chronic alcohol consumption as to the effects it has on the body. I believe in juicing a as a cleanse (3 days at most in the mornings only) and when a person is in need of a boost or the are “under the weather.” This would not produce the same effect on the liver I presume as someone who has chronic alcohol exposure. Of course people with diabetes and candida need to steer clear of fruit juices too! I’m not a doctor, but I am a medical professional – I appreciate your comment, however, I am simply basing my comments on my own experience and the experience of others in my field of holistic health. In all due respect – everything in moderation! :O)

  • AJ

    Have been reading lots lately about the 80-10-10 diet, which is largely made up of carbs in the form of fruit, eg, a whole pineapple for breakfast!! I know eating fruit whole is healthier than juicing, but won’t this diet send blood sugar levels soaring and ultimately cause weight gain? I thought a high protein, high healthy fats diet was the way to go for good health? x

  • Leigh Ann Dickey

    Hi AJ. I would never recommend that kind of approach. Of course a balanced approach to nutrition is always best!

  • Horse’s Mouth

    Can anyone provide specific citations to these studies?

    “Recent studies have indicated that it’s linked with increased insulin resistance and diabetes risk.”