Is it OK to drink apple juice instead of water?

Staying hydrated is crucial for our health. Water makes up about 60% of our body weight, and without adequate water intake, we can experience dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in, leading to an imbalance of water and electrolytes. Even mild dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, and impaired physical performance. More severe dehydration requires urgent medical treatment and can be life-threatening.

For these reasons, health authorities commonly recommend drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day as part of a healthy diet. But some people find plain water boring and opt for flavored beverages like juice instead. This raises the question – can you stay properly hydrated by drinking apple juice rather than water?

Nutritional comparison of apple juice and water

While both beverages provide hydration, apple juice and water have very different nutritional profiles. Let’s compare them:

Nutrient Per 8 oz (240mL) serving
Water 0 calories, 0g carbs, 0g sugar
Apple juice 120 calories, 28g carbs, 24g sugar

As you can see, water contains no calories or carbohydrates. It also has no sugar content. On the other hand, apple juice is high in natural sugars with about 24g per serving. It also provides around 120 calories and 28g of carbs.

The sugar in apple juice is fructose, which is a simple sugar found naturally in fruits. Fructose requires minimal insulin to be metabolized. However, excessive fructose consumption has been linked to increased liver fat, insulin resistance, and obesity.

Additionally, apple juice typically contains no fiber, protein, fat, vitamins or minerals. The processing removes nearly all the nutritional benefits of whole apples like vitamin C, polyphenols, and antioxidants.

Overall, water contains no calories and is sugar-free. Apple juice is high in sugars and provides empty calories and carbs with little nutritional value.


When it comes to hydration, water is the gold standard. Here’s why:

  • Water has a neutral pH and electrolyte balance that is perfectly suited to hydration.
  • Our kidneys easily absorb and excrete water to regulate hydration.
  • Water supports all bodily functions and transportation of nutrients.
  • We lose water continuously through sweat, urine, and breathing which needs constant replenishment.

Although apple juice contains water, it is not an ideal hydrating beverage. The high sugar and carb content can actually pull water into the GI tract and induce diarrhea, worsening hydration in some cases. The sugars may also elevate blood sugar levels, causing increased urination and fluid losses.

Research shows that the ideal hydration drink has lower concentrations of sugars and carbs, along with essential electrolytes like sodium and potassium. This profile best supports rehydration after exercise or illness.

Overall, plain water is superior for day-to-day hydration needs compared to apple juice.

Dental health

Consuming beverages high in sugars like juice can also damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Here’s how:

  • Bacteria in the mouth ferment sugars and release acid as a byproduct.
  • This acid attacks enamel, causing demineralization.
  • Frequent acid attacks lead to dental caries and cavities.
  • Sugars also promote plaque formation which causes further tooth decay.

In contrast, water contains no sugars and does not affect oral pH or dental health. Fluoridated water may even promote enamel remineralization and strengthen teeth.

For children prone to cavities, dentists typically recommend minimizing juice intake and opting for water instead. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no more than 4-6oz of juice per day for kids under 6 years.

Weight management

Beverage choice also influences weight management:

  • Water contains zero calories and helps control appetite and calorie intake.
  • People who drink water before meals tend to eat less food overall.
  • Substituting caloric drinks like juice for water reduces calorie consumption through the day.
  • Juice adds empty calories and sugar without making you feel more full.
  • High juice intakes are linked to obesity in children.

For weight loss, experts recommend sticking with water and limiting juice to a small glass per day at most. Drinking water before meals can also reduce calorie intake and lead to moderate weight loss.

When is apple juice appropriate?

While water is a healthier choice overall, apple juice does have appropriate uses in some cases. These include:

  • Treating low blood sugar – The sugars in apple juice can help quickly elevate blood glucose levels when experiencing hypoglycemia.
  • Settling an upset stomach – The simple sugars in apple juice are easy to digest and can help provide electrolytes when ill.
  • As a snack – Apple juice can be an appropriate occasional snack for kids or adults when portion sizes are controlled.
  • Adding flavor – Small amounts of juice can make plain water more palatable by adding taste.

Drinking apple juice in moderation or diluting it with water can help reduce its sugar content. But juice should not completely replace plain water for daily hydration needs.

Guidelines for apple juice intake

Here are some healthy guidelines for apple juice consumption:

  • Limit apple juice to no more than 4-6oz per day for young kids.
  • Older children and adults should cap intake at 8-12oz daily.
  • Always opt for 100% juice and avoid juice “drinks” with added sugar.
  • Drink juice with meals to slow absorption and minimize blood sugar spikes.
  • Dilute juice with water to reduce the sugar and calorie density.
  • Avoid sipping juice continuously throughout the day.
  • Rinse mouth with water after drinking juice to minimize acid contact with teeth.

Be sure to account for juice calories and sugar content as part of your daily intake limits. And drink plenty of fluoride-containing water between meals to promote oral health.

The bottom line

Water should be your primary beverage for day-to-day hydration needs. Apple juice provides hydration but is high in sugar and empty calories compared to water.

Drinking juice instead of water can damage dental health, contribute to weight gain, and negatively affect blood sugar levels. Apple juice does have appropriate uses, but intake should be limited to 4-12oz per day for kids and adults.

Aim to satisfy most of your fluid requirements using plain water. But the occasional small glass of 100% apple juice can provide a treat whenportion sizes are controlled.

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