How long does fresh squeezed juice keep its nutrients?

Drinking fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juices is an excellent way to pack in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. However, fresh squeezed juice only retains its full nutritional value for a limited time. The nutrients in juice can degrade over time due to oxidation and exposure to light and heat. This article will examine how long different types of fresh squeezed juices retain their nutrients when properly stored.

Nutrient Loss in Fresh Squeezed Juice Over Time

In general, fresh squeezed juice begins losing nutrients quickly after it’s made. Enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients start to degrade and oxidize. After 8 hours at room temperature, up to 90% of some vitamins like vitamin C and folate can be lost.[1]

After juice is made, enzymes like polyphenol oxidase cause oxidation reactions. This degrades antioxidants like polyphenols and anthocyanins over time, losing their health benefits. Light and heat exposure also increase the speed of oxidation and nutrient loss.[2]

Vitamin C is one of the nutrients most sensitive to degradation in juice. Up to 2/3 of vitamin C can be lost in the 8 hours after juicing. Other water-soluble vitamins like the B vitamins also decline rapidly.[3]

How Long Does Fresh Squeezed Juice Last Refrigerated?

Proper refrigeration is important for preserving the nutrients in fresh juices. Cold temperatures help slow the activity of enzymes and oxidation rates. Juice stored in the refrigerator will retain more nutrients than juice left at room temperature.

In general, for maximum nutrient retention, it’s best to drink fresh squeezed juice within:

  • 8 hours if refrigerated
  • 2 hours if left at room temperature

Here is how long different types of common juices may last refrigerated:

Orange Juice

Fresh squeezed orange juice retains its vitamin C content best when consumed within 8 hours of juicing. One study found that refrigerating orange juice for 24 hours resulted in up to 19% loss of vitamin C.[4]

Beta-carotene levels also decline by 5-14% in orange juice stored for 24 hours refrigerated.[5] Refrigeration beyond 24 hours results in increasing degradation of nutrients.

Apple Juice

Polyphenols, which give apple juice its antioxidant benefits, begin oxidizing immediately after juicing resulting in browning. One study found polyphenol degradation occurs rapidly in apple juice stored at room temperature, with 35% loss after 1 hour and almost 60% loss after 8 hours.[6]

Refrigerating apple juice slows polyphenol loss. Storing refrigerated for 24 hours resulted in 30% retention, versus less than 10% retention after 24 hours at room temperature.[6]

Grape Juice

The polyphenol antioxidants in grape juice degrade rapidly during refrigerated storage. After 24 hours refrigerated, concord grape juice retained only about 60% of its original total polyphenol content.[7]

Ascorbic acid levels declined more slowly, with about 80% remaining after 1 day refrigerated and 60% remaining after 4 days.[7] Refrigeration is still recommended for maximizing retention in grape juice.

Pomegranate Juice

Multiple studies have looked at nutrient loss over time in pomegranate juice. In one study, refrigerating pomegranate juice for 24 hours resulted in about 28% loss of vitamin C and 12% loss of vitamin A.[8]

Polyphenols also degrade over time in refrigerated pomegranate juice, with higher losses occurring at higher storage temperatures.[9] For maximum retention, storing for less than 8-12 hours refrigerated is recommended.

Vegetable Juice

Fresh vegetable juices often contain vitamin C, B vitamins and carotenoids. In one study, refrigerating a mixed vegetable juice for 24 hours resulted in losses of 25-35% for B vitamins and up to 20% for carotenoids like beta-carotene.[10]

Spinach and parsley juices showed significant declines in folate levels over 24 hours refrigeration.[11] For minimal nutrient loss, vegetable juices are also best consumed within 6-8 hours of preparation.

Does Bottled Juice Retain More Nutrients?

Bottled, pasteurized juices available in stores often contain added preservatives and nutrients to help compensate for losses during processing and storage. However, the heating process results in some loss of heat-sensitive vitamins.

One study found pasteurized orange juice retained only 83% of its original vitamin C versus 91% retention in freshly squeezed juice after 5 days refrigerated.[12] However, vitamin C levels were fortified to similar levels in both juices.

Another study found that while pasteurization reduces vitamin C in orange juice by 22%, concentrations of other micronutrients were similar to fresh juice.[13]

Overall, bottled juices undergo processing that results in some nutrient loss. However, added preservatives and nutrient fortification help improve shelf life and nutrient levels compared to fresh juice after several days.

Ways to Maximize Nutrient Retention

Here are some tips to help maximize retention of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants when making and storing fresh juices:

  • Drink juice as soon as possible after making, ideally within 6-8 hours.
  • Store juice in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
  • Keep exposure to light and heat minimal, like by using an opaque container.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice to help inhibit oxidation.
  • If possible, drink juice with the pulp to get fiber and nutrients that remain in the pulp.
  • Blend instead of juicing to retain fiber and nutrients in whole produce.

Final Thoughts

Drinking fresh juice right after making it provides the biggest nutritional payoff. Nutrients begin degrading immediately through processing and oxidation. For best retention, drink juice within 8 hours if refrigerated, or within 2 hours at room temperature.

Juice stored longer than 24 hours loses significant amounts of nutrients like vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants. Vegetable and fruit juices have varying rates of nutrient loss but benefit from quick consumption and refrigeration.

While bottled juices lose nutrients during pasteurization, added preservatives and fortification help improve shelf life. Overall, maximizing retention involves minimizing storage times and exposure to heat, light, and oxygen.

Juice Type Key Nutrients Nutrient Retention with Proper Refrigeration
Orange Vitamin C, Beta-carotene Up to 81% vitamin C retained at 24 hours; Up to 86% beta-carotene retained at 24 hours
Apple Polyphenols Up to 30% polyphenols retained at 24 hours
Grape Polyphenols, Ascorbic acid Up to 60% polyphenols retained at 24 hours; Up to 80% ascorbic acid retained at 24 hours
Pomegranate Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Polyphenols Up to 72% vitamin C retained at 24 hours; Up to 88% vitamin A retained at 24 hours
Vegetable Vitamin C, B vitamins, Carotenoids Up to 75% B vitamins retained at 24 hours; Up to 80% carotenoids retained at 24 hours


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