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Can I drink my fruits and vegetables?

Eating enough fruits and vegetables is important for good health. The current dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume at least 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. However, most people do not meet these recommendations. Only 1 in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Drinking fruit and vegetable juices is one way to increase your intake. But is it as healthy as eating whole fruits and vegetables? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Nutrients in Fruit and Vegetable Juices

When fruits and vegetables are juiced, the process removes the fiber and leaves only the liquid fruit or vegetable juice behind. The resulting juice contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole fruit. However, the amounts can vary depending on the fruit or vegetable.

For example, 1 cup (240 ml) of orange juice provides:

  • 110% of the RDI for vitamin C
  • 12% of folate
  • 12% of potassium
  • 8% of thiamine

Whereas 1 cup of whole oranges (180 grams) provides:

  • 140% of the RDI for vitamin C
  • 14% of folate
  • 12% of potassium
  • 11% of thiamine

As you can see, the juice provides concentrated amounts of many nutrients. But you lose out on the benefits of fiber from the whole fruit.

Benefits of Whole Fruits and Vegetables

Research consistently shows that a high intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced risk of various diseases. However, studies looking at specific fruits and vegetables provide stronger evidence.

A review of 16 studies found that eating more whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes and apples, was linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (1).

Another study including over 66,000 women found that high intakes of whole fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, romaine lettuce and spinach were linked with a lower risk of stroke (2).

And a study in over 124,000 people linked higher intakes of certain whole fruits and vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli and apples to a reduced risk of heart disease (3).

The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables have been partly attributed to antioxidants like beta-carotene in apricots, lycopene in tomatoes and anthocyanins in blueberries. However, research shows these antioxidants are better absorbed from whole foods compared to supplements (4).

Fiber and Fullness

Additionally, fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. Higher intakes of dietary fiber can promote feelings of fullness, help with weight control and improve gut health (5, 6).

Because juicing removes the fiber content of fruits and vegetables, drinking vegetable and fruit juice is not as filling as eating the whole food. This could negatively impact weight control.

Chew Count

One study found that liquid foods do not promote fullness as well as solid foods. The researchers linked this to lower “chew counts” with juice compared to whole fruits and vegetables (7).

Chewing helps send fullness signals from the gut to your brain (8). Consequently, the act of chewing when you eat whole fruits and veggies may lead you to consume fewer calories overall.

Juice Has Less Nutrients Than Whole Foods

While juice may provide concentrated amounts of some nutrients, the total nutrient content is lower compared to the whole fruit or vegetable.

For example, a review study reported that drinking vegetables in juices resulted in a 66–76% lower intake of fiber, iron and B-vitamins compared to eating the whole food (9).

Another study found that lean women consuming 3 servings of salad and 3 servings of carrots each day lost 18 pounds (8 kg) over 12 weeks. However, drinking the vegetable juice equivalent only resulted in 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of weight loss (10).

More Sugar

Blending can also affect the sugar content. Blending and chopping breaks down the cell walls in fruits and vegetables, releasing more sugar that was trapped inside the cells.

For example, 120 grams or 1 cup of chopped carrots contains 4 grams of sugar, whereas 120 ml or 1/2 cup of carrot juice contains 5 grams (11, 12).

While the extra sugar in vegetable juice is unlikely to be an issue for most people, some fruit juices contain as much sugar as sodas. Some varieties even contain more.

240 ml or 1 cup of fruit juice can contain 25–32 grams of sugar, compared to around 26 grams in a soda. Unfortunately, your brain doesn’t register the same feelings of fullness when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages compared to when you eat the sugar (13).

For this reason, fruit juice is much easier to over-consume than whole fruit. Additionally, fruit juice lacks the important fiber content of whole fruit that helps slow absorption of the sugar. Consequently, fruit juice is best avoided.

Juicing May Increase Vegetable Intake

While consuming whole fruits and vegetables is recommended, another strategy is to mix up your juice and whole foods intake.

Although fruit juice is still high in sugar content, moderate amounts of fresh vegetable juice can help increase your vegetable intake if you don’t enjoy eating salads or cooked veggies.

One study showed that drinking 16 ounces (500 ml) of vegetable juice every day for 12 weeks significantly increased vegetable consumption and resulted in an average weight loss of 4 pounds (1.8 kg) (14).

Try diluting the juice with water or mixing different juices, such as carrot and celery juice, to vary the flavors. Additionally, aim to limit fruit juice to 2–3 small glasses (under 250 ml) per week.

Bottom Line

Juices contain vitamins, minerals and plant compounds from fruits and vegetables. However, whole fruits and vegetables also provide fiber, which has many health benefits.

While drinking fresh vegetable juice can help increase your vegetable intake, it’s best to consume only moderate amounts. Fruit juice is high in sugar and best avoided.

For optimal health, focus on getting the recommended amount of whole fruits and vegetables each day. Any juice should count as a bonus, not as a replacement.

Food Fiber (grams) Sugar (grams)
1 cup orange 3.1 11.8
1 cup orange juice 0.5 20.2
1 cup chopped carrots 3.6 4
1/2 cup carrot juice 1.4 5


Drinking fruit and vegetable juices can help increase your intake of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds. However, juice lacks the fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables that provides many health benefits.

For long-term health, it’s best to focus on eating whole fruits and vegetables rather than juice. If you do opt for juice, stick to small portions of fresh vegetable juice and avoid high-sugar fruit juices.