Although we’re drinking less juice now than in previous years, it remains a popular drink, with revenues for juice manufacturers up a healthy £100 million during 2022. However, with the spotlight on the link between sugar, obesity and tooth decay, is a glass of juice helpful or harmful to our health?


What is fruit juice?

When we talk about fruit juice, we’re referring to the 100% pure juice extracted from the flesh of whole fruit. In the UK and Europe, it’s not permitted to add sugars, sweeteners, preservatives, colours or flavourings to fruit juice. However, ‘fruit drinks’ may contain these additions.

What are the different types of fruit juice?

  • Freshly squeezed – juice is extracted from the fruit and is available for immediate consumption
  • From concentrate – juice is extracted from the fruit, the water content is reduced and the product is frozen, chilled or aseptically sealed and shipped to the country of use, where it is reconstituted and packaged for sale
  • Not from concentrate – juice is extracted from the fruit, pasteurised and frozen, chilled or aseptically sealed and transported to the country where it is repackaged for sale

What is the problem with fruit juice?

1. Loses nutrients – The act of juicing may reduce some of the fruit’s nutritional value. This is because juicing exposes the nutrients to light and air, both of which may lead to the loss of some sensitive nutrients, vitamin C being one.

2. High in ‘free sugars’ – Juicing releases the natural sugars in the fruit, which is why fruit juice is classified as a source of ‘free sugar’ – the type of sugar we are advised to cut back on.

3. High in fructose – Fruit is a natural source of fructose, a form of sugar that the body processes in the liver. Some experts argue that drinking fructose in liquid form and in large quantities may prevent the liver from doing its job properly. This could result in a range of health problems, such as obesity, type-2 diabetes and increased fat production, including in the liver itself. Consuming too much fructose is also thought to affect our appetite, which is why many people link it to overeating and weight gain.

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4. Loses its fibre – When we juice, we remove most of the insoluble fibre that is naturally found in whole fruit. This concentrates the sugars (including fructose), calories and micronutrients, making them easier and quicker to absorb, which in turn increases blood sugar levels and elevates our calorie intake.

5. Damages teeth – the natural sugars and acids in fruit juice may damage teeth, this is because they soften and erode the protective enamel, which may lead to dental decay.

How much juice can I drink?

UK dietary guidelines recommend restricting your intake of fruit juice and smoothies to one 150ml glass per day. This means a combined daily total of 150ml, rather than 150ml for fruit juice and 150ml for smoothies.

This amount of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice also counts as 1 of your 5-a-day, but no more. In other words, however much you drink, the maximum you can obtain is 1 of your 5-a-day – this is because juice doesn’t contain the fibre found in whole fruits and vegetables.

How to buy fruit juice wisely

Make the best choice with these expert tips:

  • Read the label – always check your drink is 100% fruit juice and not a ‘fruit drink’ with added sugar, colours and flavourings.
  • Opt for freshly squeezed – if your budget permits, choose freshly squeezed over juice from concentrate; the latter is cheaper and has a longer shelf life but will have been subject to more processing.
  • Pick apple or berry over citrus – these juices are a little kinder to the teeth and less likely to erode enamel.

How to juice healthily at home...

If you have a juicer then it’s always best to make your own. This means you can enjoy your juice as soon as it’s made, when it’s at its nutritional best. Here are our practical tips:

  • Blend rather than juice – blending retains the pulp and skin of the fruit and will boost the amount of fibre, vitamins, minerals and good-for-you plant compounds in your glass.
  • Include vegetables in the mix and experiment with lower-sugar fruits like avocado.
  • Add the juice of half a lemon or a splash of apple cider vinegar. This makes the juice taste sweeter without adding more fruit or sugar. It also protects the colour of the juice, which is important if you’re not drinking it immediately.
  • Make more of it – by adding ingredients that provide protein and fat, like ground almonds, you can slow the absorption of the natural fruit sugars and make your juice more sustaining.

Thinking of buying a juicer? Read our juicers review.

How to protect your teeth...

  • Always drink juice with meals and not before bedtime.
  • Wait an hour after drinking juice before brushing your teeth.
  • Don't give juice to small children in bottles; this can increase the chance of tooth decay.
  • Opt to drink your fruit juice diluted with water rather than neat.

Overall, is fruit juice good for you?

Although fruit juice is a source of ‘free sugars’, it is also a useful source of vitamins and minerals as well as protective plant compounds. In fact, studies suggest that, when consumed in line with dietary guidelines, it does not increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease and may even, in the short term, reduce blood pressure and improve circulation.

For these reasons, and because for some people it makes a valuable contribution to their nutrient intake, fruit juice may be enjoyed by children and adults, in line with dietary guidelines, and as part of a varied, balanced diet.

Enjoyed this? Now read…

Top 20 healthiest fruits
The health benefits of oranges
What counts as five-a-day?
Top 10 health benefits of prunes and prune juice
10 of the best juicers to buy in 2023

Get inspired with our healthy drink recipes.

Still have questions about the sweet stuff? Head on over to our sugar hub for all the answers. Do you love fruit juice or swerve them due to the sugar content? Let us know in the comments below...

This article was last reviewed on 9 November 2023 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a BANT Registered Nutritionist® with a postgraduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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