Juice is junk food

It’s far healthier to eat fruit than drink juice. 

May 12, 2020


Most parents teach their children to eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day. But data shows that children ages 2 to 18 get almost half of their fruit in the form of juice. And there’s a big difference between eating fruit and drinking fruit juice.

When you eat fruit, the pulp and fiber in it help your body process it more slowly. When you drink juice, the sugar goes directly into your bloodstream and makes your body work harder to process the sugar.

From your body’s perspective, drinking fruit juice has the same impact as having a sugary soda. This important difference is why fruit juice is more like junk food. Here are several reasons you should eat fruits and veggies.

Keep all the good nutrients

When you eat fruit, you get all the vitamins and other nutrients in the fruit, including the pulp and fiber. When you drink juice or a fruit smoothie, you get concentrated sugars, but not the pulp and fiber.

Maintain good gut health

The fiber from whole fruits, known as prebiotic fiber or fermentable fiber, has many benefits. These include maintaining good bacteria in your gut. In turn, this helps promote overall health and a healthy weight.

Feel more full and satisfied

Research shows that you eat fewer calories when you eat solid food instead of liquids. Eating whole fruits will leave you much more full and satisfied than if you were to drink them. Here’s why.

When you drink fruit juice and smoothies, the sugar is processed through the liver. This makes your body produce too much insulin, which turns sugar into fat. High insulin levels also keep your brain from receiving the signal of being full, which can lead to overeating.

Better manage blood sugar

Eating fruit versus drinking it slows down the digestion of the fruit sugar. This helps your body better manage your blood sugar. When you eat fruit sugar in the form of juice, your body can’t tell that it’s a healthy sugar.

Instead, your body processes that sugar the same way it would a soda or Gatorade — through the liver. This can lead to long-term health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

In general:

  • Children should have no more than 25 grams of sugar a day.
  • Women should have no more than 25 grams of sugar a day.
  • Men should have no more than 38 grams of sugar a day.
  • This does not include the sugar content in whole fruits and unflavored dairy products.

One cup of juice has more than the recommended daily intake of sugar. Bottom line, while drinking juices and smoothies may seem healthy, it’s far better to eat fruit instead of drink it.


By Sherri Zorn, MD, FAAP

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.