Is Fruit Juice Healthy?

by updated 2011/10/02

This is not as easy a question to answer as it first appears.  By fruit juice, I mean juice freshly processed at home through a juicer.  Most of the information online discusses the processed juice you buy at the grocery store.  Even if the juice in a bottle is 100% organic juice, because of federal regulations, it has been cooked to the point of having lost a lot of nutritional value.  Because of that, I have never been a big drinker of bottled juice.  But the health impact I am wondering about has nothing to do with the quality of the juice itself, but with the sugar content.  The reason I am trying to find the definitive answer is because I am a juicer.  I usually make juice at least twice a week, bottling what I don’t drink right away in filled, sealed canning jars.  The fruit juice stored this way in the refrigerator keeps for several days.  I know there are benefits from drinking this juice that I can feel.  I also know the juice is filled with natural, unaltered, enzymes and other nutrients that make me feel better physically and mentally.  But what I want to know is am I increasing my risk of insulin resistance by drinking a pint of this fresh juice every day? I could get recurring blood tests, I guess, but I am not really interested in doing that.

I also make vegetable juice, many days drinking a quart of that in addition to my fruit juice.  That vegetable juice is mostly leafy greens, and a cucumber, but also includes a few carrots which have their own amount of sugar.  In addition, I often add a few drips of stevia to the vegetable juice since when it is mostly juiced greens, it can be quite bitter.  I wonder if the stevia can adversely impact blood sugar also, but that is a topic for another day.  Some doctors and nutritionists say that this type of juice consumption is healthy and nothing to worry about.  Others, for example, Dr. Joseph Mercola seem to say the opposite.  For now I am mostly concerned about the fruit juice.  I am addicted though, so I hope I am not doing damage to my health by drinking it.

Will Sig
1 Jan

Hi Will
If you want to see a lively discussion on the pros and cons of juicing there was a great thread on the CommentLuv site at http://comluv.com/health-benefits-of-freshly-squeezed-juices/. I’m no expert but I do have a strong opinion!! When you juice you lose all the vitamins and minerals from the skin as well as the fibre that helps to slow the metabolism of the sugars. It’s a really bad idea for somebody who is trying to lose weight as you get all of those extra calories without the fibre to make you feel full (although after your dental escapades that shouldn’t be a problem!). David Gillespie wrote a great book called Sweet Poison in which he says that when we were evolving, there was little natural fruit available and our system biologically does not process fructose. You would need to read it to get the technical details as I can’t do it justice. I don’t think as part of a healthy diet it hurts, but it’s not a good substitute for whole foods at any time. If you feel that you are addicted though (as opposed to just enjoying a glass every day), maybe it’s time to think about cutting down. If it makes you feel good, is that from the vitamins or minerals or are you getting a sugar rush as you do drink a lot?
Another site with some great info and discussions on quitting sugar is http://www.sarahwilson.com.au and choose sugar from the Hot Topics. Sarah has just written an ebook on giving up sugar as well. Hope this is not too much information!

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2 Will

Not too much info Jan. I joke about being addicted, but really I just love it. As I noted above, I pretty much drink a pint of pressed fruit juice first thing in the morning. I don’t seem to get any kind of an immediate sugar rush from it, but I do feel like I have more energy all day long. I also feel like it is very cleansing but maybe all that is just the placebo effect? What I am most concerned about is insulin resistance. I use virtually no other sugar in my diet except for the occasional piece of chocolate or other treat. At my last physical, my tests were normal, but normal from a traditional doctor may not be ideal. I also worry about the two or three drops of stevia I put in my leafy green/vegetable juice. It really makes it more palatable so you don’t feel like you are forcing the juice down. But that stuff is very sweet. I don’t know if it impacts your body in the same way as fructose though.

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3 Anthony Samsel

The food supply in the USA is one of the most dangerous on the planet.
Genetically Engineered food , systemic pesticides that don’t wash off , chemicals leaching into water and juices from plastics to toxins in food crops grown in contaminated soils from coal burning power plants. One example is Arsenic in juices, fruits and vegetbles. All fruit and vegetables will contain some level of Arsenic absorbed from the soil, especially downwind of COAL BURNING power plants. They will additionally contain levels of Cadmium, Lead, Antimony, and Chromium to name a few.
What you need to also be concerned with are the levels leaching out of plastic containers of both Arsenic and Antimony Trioxides from the flame retardant system. Plastics contain up to 60% by weight Antimony Trioxide as part of the flame retardant system of which .10% is Arsenic Trioxide which is found naturally with the Antimony extracted from Copper smelting and manufacturing. These waste products are used in virtually all plastics. Arsenic contaminated Antimony Trioxide is also used as a catalyst in the manufacture of PETP plastic.
I have had first hand experience with the commercial use of both these and other pesticides and have been fighting to get these banned from use. The comments are random and have not yet been organized for an article yet.
The systemic pesticides Temik and Imidacloprid used by farmers are produced and sold by BAYER and TEMIK has been the first choice followed by IMIDACLOPRID. Production of Temik will cease by Dec. 31, 2014, use in the US will end by August 2018. Temik originally developed by DUPONT is an aldicarb and in humans causes weakness, blurred vision, headache, nausea, tearing, sweating, and tremors. It can paralyze the respiratory system, it is bio-cumulative and in higher doses is fatal.
Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid insecticide, also bio-cumulative symptoms ranging from vomiting, abdominal pain, headache and diarrhea, (mild poisoning) to respiratory arrest and fatal ventricular fibrillation. Co-ingestions with especially organophosphate are more hazardous than imidacloprid ingestion alone. So if you have eaten any other food that might have contained an organophosphate you could be the victim of synergistic poisoning which is greater than either pesticide alone. Imidacloprid is also used by veterinarians on dogs and cats, sold to the public as Advantage flea and tick medication. Imidacloprid is also a neurotoxin.
Today the pesticides most often used are the systemics they don’t wash off. Imidacloprid and aldicarb (Temik), are absorbed into every cell of the plant and fruit.
Imidacloprid is now injected into citrus trees at extremely high rates, this practice began in South Africa. Imidacloprid, has the largest application amount of neonicotinoid insecticide in the world, 20,000 thousand tons. It is the pesticide of choice in over 100 countries. In Florida, farmers apply Imidacloprid on crops at an average rate ranging from 0.17 to 0.27 pounds per acre. With 20,000 tons currently being produced annually for agriculture that’s enough Imidacloprid to contaminate between 160-235 million acres of food cropland.
These chemicals should never have been allowed to be used for food. They are absorbed into the food and do not wash off.
Imidacloprid and its metabolites penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Some of its metabolites have been found in milk, meat, chicken and eggs. The liver is a target organ and this has been demonstrated by hepatic necrosis in rats and dogs. Elevated levels of serum enzymes, and alteration of clinical chemistry parameters including triglycerides, cholesterol and the blood clotting time have been seen.

Morphological effects including testicular degeneration in rats and dogs; atrophy of the thyroid gland and bone marrow have been found. Imidacloprid induces hepatic mixed-function oxidases. Subchronic exposure of dogs to imidacloprid resulted in severe tremors. Imidacloprid is also a neurotoxin.
Before you drink that cup of Joe, make sure it is ORGANIC COFFEE ! Sorry drinking coffee is now a game of Russian Roulette! Please write your government and ask them to follow Germany’s lead in banning IMADACLOPRID. Coffee Growers now use Imidachloprid insecticide. Temik is also used but will be removed from use in 2014. Both TEMIK (aldicarb) and IMIDACHLOPRID are pesticides of choice for Coffee Growers and cause many diseases and neurological disorders. Peanut allergies may actually be a reaction to systemic pesticide residues in peanuts and peanut oil.
These pesticides do not not wash off, or peel off. They are absorbed into COFFEE, stone fruits like peaches & the following: Peanuts, Bananas, Grapes, Lettuce, Eggplant, tomatoes, beets, cabbage, & Brassicas, cucumbers, melons, potatoes, Rice, Hops, grains and other food crops, cotton and ornamental plants and trees. These treated fruits and vegetables are TOXIC to insects and YOU! It affects the Nervous system, Thyroid gland and more and in birds causes soft weak shells like the effects from DDT which Rachel Carson wrote about in ‘Silent Spring’.
Bayer Crop Science Division of Bayer markets ‘ IMIDACLOPRID’ Insecticide’ worldwide. This material should not be on the market. It is a systemic pesticide that works similar to the BAYER/ Dupont material Temik. It is absorbed by the plant rendering it toxic to insects. It renders all parts of the plant toxic including the plants pollen and kills countless numbers of bees annually. It is sold to homeowners in lawn care products to kill grubs as Grubex and as a systemic houseplant insecticide. It’s one of the most toxic insecticides to honeybees with a contact acute LD50 = 0.078 ug a.i./bee and an acute oral LD50 = 0.0039 ug a.i./bee.
It is sold commercially as Confidor, Kohinor, Admire, Advantage (Advocate) pet flea & tick, Gaucho, Mallet, Merit, Nuprid, Prothor, Turfthor, Conguard, Hachikusan, Premise, Prothor, Provado and Winner and the Thiacloprid product as Calypso.

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4 Will

Wow Anthony! As always, your comments are full of information. I always read them with interest. Usually feel a bit overwhelmed trying absorb it all at once, so come back a few times to re-read but really appreciate you putting it out for us to read.

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5 Anthony Samsel

My comment above are contaminants found in fruit juices. Arsenic, Antimony and the systemic pesticides Temik (aldicarb) and Imidacloprid. Ninety percent of orange juice sold in the USA is contaminated with pesticides. USDA certified Organic fresh squeezed is best. Be wary of bottled organic orange juice made from concentrate as the water used to reconstitute the organic juice may be contaminated water. Best to juice your own from organic fruit and vegetables.

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6 Linda

Wow, interesting comment, but not sure how much it had to do with fruit juice. Back to the post, pure fresh pressed orange, apple, pear, grape or other sweet fruit juice is a double-edged sword . On one hand you are getting fragile, healing nutrients, therapeutic enzymes and a living fresh food. Cancer therapies often use fresh juices for their healing effects. On the other hand, you are getting a lot of sugar. Natural yes, but still sugar, and more than we need and possibly can use. Eight ounces of orange or apple juice doles out 25 grams of sugar, and grape juice even more. It takes a lot of fruit to fill a glass. Fiber is processed out, rendering the fruit sugar more rapidly absorbed. Fiber is part of what makes fruit nutritious. Carrot juice in some ways is worse as root veggies are even more quickly absorbed than fruits. Sugary juices swamp the blood with sugar, which taxes the pancreas, prompting release of more insulin. Excess insulin and high blood sugar are linked with many diseases, including weight gain, heart disease, cancer and eventually insulin resistance.
Vigorous exercise enables your body to process the sugar more easily, reducing the insulin response. That could be why you are Ok with this level of juice.

My recommendation is to get used to the less sweet, even bitter flavors in veggies, including cabbage (a great ulcer healer), cucumbers (very cooling), parsley, kale, and other leafy greens. Blend with just enough apple or carrot or beet (helps digestion and the liver) to make palatable. Add a small piece of ginger for its warming effect. This kind of blend is more along the lines of that used for cancer treatment.

In winter, when fruits are no longer in season, back off the juices altogether as they are cooling and cleansing, something best in Spring. As we head into cooler months, warm broth is a more healing choice than cooling fruit juices. Get out your crock pot and simmer organic bones and veggies for 24 hours – this is a traditional healing brew I have personally seen work wonders for many diseases, especially bowel and digestive problems and arthritis.

Cheers.
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7 Will

Simmering organic bones and veggies sounds good. Can you freeze the bones and use them later to do that? I have been eating some grass fed and finished lamb and beef lately and some of the cuts have bones. I could freeze them to use in the crock pot later.

Have you thought of putting some of your recipes on your blog? I clicked the recipe category there but only found something called kale chips. I would be especially interested in some alternate veggies that work well in the crock pot. I tend to go with the old standbys, carrots, potatoes, onions, and celery.

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8 Will

Yesterday while at the Co-op shopping I asked if they could get bones from the farm that supplies their grass finished beef. The answer was that they had just received some by mistake. My lucky day! Two big bags for the freezer. I am not sure what part of the cow they are from, there appears to be an assortment. Funny though that the cashier thought they were for our dogs.

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9 Will

Thanks for that Linda. It answers some questions, even though the answers are not what this fresh-pressed fruit juice lover wants to hear. What about the stevia? Is using a few drops of that in each pint of veggie juice a problem too?

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10 John Hunter

Good post and comments. I also wonder about this question. Removing the fiber is a drawback. Partially I also figure it depends on what you would do instead. Swapping home made fruit juice for the grocery store kind seems good. And the costs benefits do really depend on the rest of your diet and exercise I think, though I am not that knowledgable truthfully (heck even those that are suppose to be experts seem to have very big gaps in what they know).

Also exercise does help cope with some diet weaknesses, as Linda mentions. When people only look at diet that is a mistake, I think.

I think you say pink, in the post, where you mean pint.
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11 Will

Hi John, nice to hear from you again! Some of my juice pints ARE pink you know. This time of year at least when I am using a lot of berries and plums. Thanks though, I fixed it.

I don’t really drink anything besides my juice except for water and a beer or glass of wine with dinner. I NEVER drink soda or mass produced juice. But I still worry a bit about the sugar in my daily pint. As you hint, it might be an unnecessary worry however as I don’t get much sugar anywhere else in my diet. I do like dates, however and eat a few of those every week.

I don’t worry at all about the fiber. I almost a complete plant based diet so get lots of that. As Linda suggests in her comment and on her blog I probably should eat more good meat. With the recent opening of our Food Co-op I finally have a source for the meat she recommends so hopefully this fall and winter I will find ways to incorporate that into my diet.

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12 Binky

I don’t add any sugar to anything I eat either, but still end up consuming quite a lot of sugar, mostly from orange juice and milk. (And chocolate, but I don’t really eat that much of it.) I think as with most things, if you eat the food in its natural state, the total combination of everything that’s in it is probably pretty healthy. If you make your own juice and don’t add or take away anything, then I would guess it’s probably pretty good for you. And certainly far better than drinking the equivalent amount of soda pop.
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13 Tony McGurk

And wine gums, don’t forget to confess the wine gums Binky.

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14 Will

Wine gums have sugar?

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15 Will

I think you are right, Binky. It is the total of sugar in your diet. Since I get very little sugar in other parts of my diet, I am probably OK. This morning I made a batch of fruit juice and used 3 cucumbers in it. It actually was quite good, a bit less sweet and diluted some from the cukes. I think I will continue that method. I then made green juice from some greens I grow myself and they were quite good. Not as bitter as some of the organic greens I have purchased. Did not have to add any drops of the stevia.

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16 Tony McGurk

My 1st reaction was to think Yes fruit juice is extremely good for you. I was quite surprised by the questions you raised Will & some of the information in the comments. It’s surprising how much about our food we take for granted without really thinking too much about it. I never considered the sugar content of freshly squeezed juice before. Quite surprising indeed & very interesting post.

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17 John

Interesting, I make a shake every day containing fruits, vegetables, and protein. I never thought about the possible impact to increasing insulin resistance. Even if it does though, I imagine it’s not significant amount to worry too much about but would love to see more research/info on it.
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18 Tony McGurk

Yes, Freshly prepared juice is what I am content with. Its is perfectly natural, I think, A must drink. I never bottle them up for later. The figures you pointed out are more or less appropriate. I always have a fresh produce, most reliable. Great read, this one. Keep it up.

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19 Beth

hi Will, ive just started reading your blogs and and loving it!
the posts ive seen so far are questions that i have wondered myself – including this one! i recently purchased a juice and got abit juice-friendly and then heard that juice is unhealthy because of the amount of sugar, but after some research, it turns out juice still has lots of vitamins that are healthful however the amount of sugar IS alot. of course, compared to commercial juices, homemade is without a doubt better for you.
one of tha main problem with juicing is that you dont get the high fiber content from the fruit like you would with eating fresh fruit.
i think the best way to go about juicing it to either limit consumption – make it a treat once a week or so. OR if you blend the fruit rather than juice it, the fiber is still present and it means per glass of blended juice you will get less sugar than juicer-juice if that makes sense.
one of my favourite things to do is to eat the pulp from the juicer after juicing fruits – i go abit crazy and end up scoooping it out with my hand and eating it, ending up with sticky fruit juice all over my face!
anyway, ive realised this isnt such a great idea because it means i end up eating about 6 pieces of fruit at once which i would never normally do so ive stopped doing that – until i buy a blender that is!

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20 Will

Hi Beth — Thanks for the kind words. I started putting a cucumber or two in with my fruit juice to dilute the sweetness a bit. Also I plan to try to go with a combo of fruit and vegetable juice every morning rather than pure fruit juice.

The juicer I recently changed to seems to allow quite a bit of pulp through so there is some fiber in it. I don’t worry too much, however as the rest of my mostly plant based diet provides lots of fiber.

I tried the blended juice method and it works fine for fruit. For veggies, it is not that great. Also blending injects a lot of air into the juice which is not great to swallow.

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21 William

I’m a huge fan of eating various fresh fruits on a daily basis. When it comes to drinking real fruit juice drinks, I have never really taken the chance include it in my everyday routine.. I think half the reason I do not drink much of it is the work involved (having to juice the fruit then prepare for storage of excess juice). Like most people I live a busy life and usually choose drink on a convenience factor. I will be looking into various juicer options in the future to try and incorporate more of this healthy drink substitute in my life. I honestly have no desire in drinking vegetable drinks though! Really not my style or in my interest.

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