The Fruit Juice Science Centre answers your questions about fruit juices and sugar.
Sugar Awareness Week 8th to 14th November 2021
4 min read
Surveys show that most people drink fruit juice for taste, or as a convenient way to obtain vitamins and minerals. 100% juices are rich in vitamin C, for immune health, and also provide potassium, which supports normal blood pressure, and folate, which helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue. Here, the Fruit Juice Science Centre answers your questions about fruit juices and sugar.
Does 100% fruit juice contain added sugar?
No, under EU and UK law , fruit juice cannot contain added sugars, colours, preservatives or artificial sweeteners. All the sugars in fruit juice come from the fruit used to make it. The total sugars in packaged fruit juices are listed on the label per 100 grams. A typical serving of fruit juice is 150 ml.
Is fruit juice high in sugar?
According to legal definitions, 100% fruit juice is not high in sugars and would score ‘amber’ on front of pack (traffic light) labelling. A 150 ml serving contains 13-14g of total sugars - all naturally present and none added.
How much sugars are in whole oranges versus orange juice?
It takes 1-2 oranges to make one small glass of orange juice which equates to a serving of fruit in some countries. 150 grams of oranges – without the peel – contains 12.3 grams of total sugars, whereas 150 grams of orange juice contains 12.9 grams of total sugars .
How much sugars are in whole apples versus apple juice?
A small glass of apple juice contains 1-2 apples. According to official data, 150 grams of whole apples (flesh plus skin) contain 17.4 grams of total sugars, whereas 150 grams of apple juice contains 14.6 grams of total sugars .
Does fruit juice cause large spikes in blood sugar levels?
No. Regular consumption of 100% fruit juice has a neutral impact on blood sugar control and insulin levels. Two meta-analyses (super studies) reported no impact of regular fruit juice consumption on blood glucose and insulin levels [3,4]. The reason is linked to the low GI (glycemic index) of fruit juices.
Why do fruit juices have a low GI?
100% fruit juice has a low glycemic index (GI), approx. 50 for orange juice and 41 for apple juice . These are similar to the GI given to whole fruits, which is 43 for whole orange and 36 for whole apple. The low GI is due to fruit sugars (fructose) which are more slowly absorbed than added sugars (sucrose/glucose). Polyphenols found in both fruits and juices are also known to slow the absorption of sugars from the gut .
Does fruit juice increase the risk of type 2 diabetes?
No. Regular consumption of 100% fruit juice has a neutral impact on risk of type 2 diabetes as long as overall calories are not excessive. Two meta-analyses (super studies) found that 100% fruit juice was not associated with risk of developing type 2 diabetes [7,8].
The EPIC-Norfolk Study , which tracked the beverage habits of 25,639 UK adults without diabetes, found that 100% fruit juice did not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Similar conclusions were reported by large observational studies from France , Netherlands , 8 EU countries  and Japan .
Does fruit juice increase obesity risk?
No, according to three meta-analyses (super studies) a daily glass of 100% fruit juice has no clinical impact on body weight or weight gain in adults [8,14,15]. A clinical trial reported that a low-calorie diet helped obese adults to lose weight, whether or not they drank 500 ml of orange juice daily .
There are few studies in children, and all are based on lower quality observational data. Two long-term studies of pre-school children found no impact of 100% fruit juice on weight or body mass index changes [17,18]. A systematic review of 22 studies found no association between 100% fruit juice consumption and body weight in children . A meta-analysis of eight observational studies found an association between 100% fruit juice consumption and a small amount of weight gain in children aged 1 to 6 years that the authors described as not clinically significant . However, the same study found no link between fruit juice and weight gain in children aged 7 to 18 years.
Does fruit juice cause dental caries and/or tooth erosion?
An analysis of US dietary data in 2290 children aged 2-5 years found no evidence that 100% fruit juice is associated with dental caries . This was confirmed by a meta-analysis (super study) found no associations between 100% fruit juice intake at population level and tooth erosion or dental decay .
A clinical study at Leeds University found that chewing apples, oranges, grapes, carrots and tomatoes compared with drinking their juices had the same impact on mineral levels in tooth enamel . So, juices weren’t riskier for dental health.
2. Department of Health & Social Care (2013) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nutrient-analysis-of-fruit-and-vegetables
3. Wang B et al (2017). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24743260/
4. Murphy M et al (2017). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29299307/
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9. O’Connor L et al (2015). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25944371/
10. Fagherazzi G et al (2013) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23364017/
11. Scheffers FR et al. (2020) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31943054/
12. InterAct Consortium (2013) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23620057/
13. Eshak E et al (2013) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22917499/
14. Alhabeeb H et al. (2020) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33350317/
15. Motallaei M et al. (2021) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34060162/
16. Ribeiro C et al (2017) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28526377/
17. Skinner J, Carruth B (2001) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11320948/
18. Wan L et al (2020). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32467768/
19. Crowe-White et al (2016) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26091353/
20. Auerbach B et al (2017) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28336576/
21. Vargas C et al (2014) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25429039/
22. Liska D (2019) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31355175/
Issa AI et al. (2011) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21876354/