Eating fruits whole is healthier than drinking fruit juice, even if it’s 100% pure fruit juice.
Fruit juice is a more concentrated source of sugars than whole fruit. For example, there are 12 grams of sugars in a medium orange, but a cup of orange juice has 21 grams. A cup of grape juice has about as much sugars as 50 grapes.
Fruit juice also has very little fibre – even the pulp in 100% orange juice doesn’t provide much of the nutrient. The lack of fibre means your body absorbs the juice’s sugars more rapidly.
Drinking more than 3 servings of fruit juice a week is associated with a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, while 3 weekly servings of fruit, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples may lower risk of the disease.
A serving of fruit juice also has more calories. A cup of orange juice, for instance, has 112 calories compared with 65 calories in a medium-sized orange, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture.
In a study of nearly 50,000 postmenopausal women, researchers found that weight gain among fruit juice drinkers was on par with those who regularly consumed sugary drinks like soda.
Whole, fresh fruit however, is full of fibre. Fibre-rich fruits can help you feel full while eating fewer calories. Dietary fibre in fruits can also help reduce cholesterol and may lower the risk for heart disease.
The pulp and skin of many fruits are high in vitamins and other nutrients. Extracting the juice leaves behind many of these nutrients. Oranges, for example, contain flavonoids, but much of these are stored in the pulp and not the juice.
“Whole fruit provides beneficial antioxidants and fibre with approximately 35% less sugar than fruit juice,” says Dr Kristi Crowe, an assistant professor in the University of Alabama’s Department of Human Nutrition.
SOME EXCEPTIONS. Not all fruit juices are detrimental. Pomegranate juice, for instance, still has anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer effects. And people eating apricots, melons and cherries specifically for beta-carotene, an antioxidant thought to reduce the risk of breast cancer, among other things, may fare better with juice. Researchers believe the fibre in whole fruit may actually inhibit beta-carotene absorption.
IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO EAT WHOLE FRUITS or prefer to drink your fruits, try blending instead of juicing them. Using a blender retains everything in the produce. The best fruits to blend are pears, apples, and watermelon. Note that you’ll need to do slightly more prep work with fruits if you put them in a blender. For example, you’ll need to remove an apple’s core or an orange’s peel before blending.