Why Drinking Juice Isn't Nearly as Healthy as Eating Whole Fruit

Your tall glass of OJ with breakfast every morning may be doing you more harm than good. That's right, even though natural fruit juice contains vitamins and minerals, too much of it can be bad for your health.

Fruit juice doesn't have nearly as many benefits as whole fruit does. (Image: Westend61/Westend61/GettyImages)

Case in point: New research shows that drinking more than 4 ounces, or half a cup, of 100 percent fruit juice (and sugary soft drinks) per day is linked to a 16 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the September 2019 issue of Diabetes Care.

The fact is, sipping juice isn't nearly as healthy as eating the whole fruit. But why? Below, Lisa Moskovitz, RDN, founder and CEO of The NY Nutrition Group, explains the reasons you should skip the liquid sap in favor of feeding on the full fruit.

1. Fruit Juice Lacks Fiber

Despite all the vital vitamins juice contains, it's missing one essential nutrient: fiber. From regulating digestion to stabilizing blood sugar levels to fighting against heart disease and certain cancers, fiber has a wealth of health benefits, says Moskovitz. Unfortunately, juicing strips away all the fibrous parts of fruits and, with them, many positive effects on your body.

To make matters worse, most people don't even get enough good-for-you fiber every day. Only five percent of Americans get an adequate amount daily — which is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men — according to a July 2016 article published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

2. It’s Less Filling

Let's face it: A cup of juice doesn't hit the hunger spot like munching on an apple does. Yup, drinking your calories isn't nearly as filling as eating them. That's partly because juice lacks fiber, which helps keep you satiated longer, but also because you're not chomping. "The lack of chewing can often confuse the body, which may not register the same fullness factor without chewing and swallowing your food," says Moskovitz.

What's more, juicing reduces the volume of your meals, she says. Compare a whole orange to the size of that same orange once it goes through a juicer. It's a major downsize. And even though you're technically taking in the same number of calories, it feels like you're getting a whole lot less.

Plus, an orange may take you five minutes to eat, but only five seconds to sip. Eating too fast may result in feeling less satisfied and is even associated with an increased risk of obesity, according to a February 2018 study published in BMJ Open.

3. Juice Is High in Sugar

Then there's all the sugar. Fruit juice is more highly concentrated in sugar than whole fruits, according to Moskovitz. For example, a medium orange contains 12 grams of sugar but a cup of orange juice boasts 21 grams.

But the sugar in oranges is natural, so it isn't so bad for your health, right? Not quite. "Our bodies can't tell the difference between naturally occurring sugars in fruits versus added sugars," says Moskovitz.

The problem? Without healthy fiber to slow the absorption of sugar, fruit juice can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and even energy crashes. This can especially spell bad news for people with diabetes who must watch their blood sugar. Either way, juicing isn't the best way to go — you're better off snacking on whole fruit.

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