What are the health risks of juicing?

Juicing has become an increasingly popular way for people to get more fruits and vegetables into their diets. Proponents claim that juicing allows you to consume more produce than you could eat whole, while removing the fiber and leaving only healthy nutrients. However, there are some potential downsides to juicing that need to be considered.

Nutrient Loss

Juicing extracts the juice from fruits and vegetables, leaving behind the pulp and skin. This results in the loss of fiber and other nutrients concentrated in the skin and pulp. For example:

  • Fiber – Juicing removes insoluble and soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps promote fullness, regulates digestion, and feeds the healthy gut bacteria in your intestines.
  • Vitamin C – Up to 30% of vitamin C is lost from fruits and vegetables during the juicing process.
  • Phytochemicals – Many phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits are concentrated in the skin and seeds of produce. Juicing removes these beneficial compounds.

The high speed blending in juicers can also destroy heat-sensitive vitamins like vitamins A, C, and E.

Rapidly Absorbed Sugars

When produce is juiced, the juicing process removes the pulp and fiber. This makes the natural sugars in the juice much more concentrated and rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream compared to eating whole fruits and vegetables. Drinking fruit juice spikes your blood sugar and insulin levels, just like drinking a sugary soda.

For example, here’s the difference in sugar content for an apple and apple juice:

Serving Total Sugar (grams)
1 medium apple (with skin) 19
1 cup apple juice (248 grams) 28

Rapidly absorbed sugars from juice can contribute to insulin resistance over time, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Lack of Fullness

Juice lacks the fiber content of whole fruits and vegetables that helps you feel full. Without adequate fiber, drinking juice can result in poor appetite control. You may still feel hungry after drinking a large amount of juice and end up consuming extra calories from other foods.

Studies show that solid foods are far more satiating than liquid foods. For example, research found that adults consumed 200 fewer calories at their next meal after eating an apple compared to drinking apple juice.

Juice drinks are also much easier to overconsume than solid produce. It’s not hard to drink 16 oz of juice, but you’d have to eat 2-3 apples or oranges to get the same amount.

Potential Contamination

The FDA has set regulations for commercially sold fresh juices, but homemade juices are not subjected to the same safety standards. Consuming raw fruits and vegetables juiced at home carries a risk of contamination.

Bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli can contaminate fresh produce and survive in juice drinks. Contamination can occur during food handling, processing, or storage of fresh produce used to make juice. Juice has led to several foodborne illness outbreaks due to lack of pasteurization that destroys pathogens.

Children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses. So homemade juicing may not be suitable for certain high-risk groups.

Oral Health

Fruit juices are highly acidic drinks, especially citrus juices like orange juice. Acidic juices can erode tooth enamel over time and lead to an increased risk of cavities.

One study found that citrus juices decreased enamel hardness in teeth by up to 84% after exposures lasting 5-30 minutes. Acidic drinks can also irritate mouth sores.

To help protect oral health, limit acidic juice intake, avoid swishing juice around in your mouth, rinse your mouth after drinking juice, and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after consuming acidic drinks.

Potential Pesticide Residues

Washing and peeling produce can help remove some pesticide residues, but juicing concentrates any residues into the juice drink. If you use conventionally grown produce to make juice at home, juicing may increase your exposure to pesticide residues compared to eating whole washed produce.

To reduce this risk, you can use organic produce when juicing or thoroughly wash all produce and remove outer leaves/peels when possible. Keep in mind that pesticide residues can remain even after washing.

Higher Calorie Intake

Although juice contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, it can be easy to overconsume calories from juice, especially fruit juices. Here’s a comparison of the calories in fruit juice versus whole fruit:

Beverage/Food Serving Size Calories
Orange juice 1 cup 112
Apple juice 1 cup 114
Grapefruit juice 1 cup 96
Orange 1 medium 69
Apple 1 medium 95
Grapefruit 1 medium 97

It’s easy to drink multiple servings of juice in a day, whereas most people would be satisfied with just 1-2 whole fruits. Drinking high-calorie juices in excess can contribute to weight gain over time.

Potential Drug Interactions

Some fruits and vegetables contain compounds that can interact with prescription medications. For example, grapefruit juice contains furanocoumarins that inhibit cytochrome P450 metabolism. This can cause higher blood levels of certain drugs, increasing the risk of side effects.

Other potential interactive compounds include flavonoids in citrus fruits, tyramine in bananas, and furanocoumarins in pomegranates. Check drug interactions before juicing produce if you take any prescription medications.

Not a Long-Term Solution

Drinking fresh juice can provide a concentrated dose of nutrients, but should not replace eating whole fruits and vegetables long-term. Juicing is not a sustainable lifelong dietary strategy for most people. Chewing whole produce may also stimulate digestion via gut hormones.

For sustained health, juice can be used periodically as a supplement to an overall diet focused on eating whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Risks for Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against giving fruit juice to infants under 1 year old. Juice offers no nutritional benefits over breast milk or formula at this age. Too much juice can fill up infants, leading to reduced appetite for nutrient-dense foods.

Fruit juice can contribute to tooth decay and is high in sugars and calories with little protein or fiber. Excessive juice consumption may increase the risk of obesity and is associated with diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and tooth decay in young kids.

The AAP recommends limiting juice intake to 4-6 oz (118-177 ml) per day for children ages 1-3 years and 6-8 oz (177-237 ml) for children ages 4-6 years.

Consider Diluting Juices

Diluting juice with water reduces the nutrient density, but provides benefits for blood sugar control and calorie reduction. Try diluting fresh juices 50:50 with water or seltzer. Dilution helps moderate the glycemic response and decreases calories to better control your weight.

You can also dilute fruit juices more than vegetable juices to reduce the natural sugar content. Gradually work your way up to less dilution as your taste buds adjust.

Watch Out for Added Sugars

Store-bought juices often contain added sugars, especially fruit juices. Check the ingredient lists, and choose 100% juice options without added sweeteners. Or try making your own juices at home using fresh, locally-grown produce.

Prioritize Vegetable Juices

Vegetable juices like tomato, carrot, beet, celery, cucumber, or greens are healthier juice options compared to fruit juices. Vegetable juices have less sugar and calories, while providing antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Some healthy vegetable juice recipes to try include:

  • Carrot + ginger + celery
  • Tomato + carrot + beet
  • Cucumber + celery + leafy greens
  • Carrot + apple + ginger

Choose Organic Produce When Possible

Always wash produce before juicing. But buying organic produce when possible can help decrease your pesticide exposure from juicing. Prioritize buying organic varieties of produce on the “Dirty Dozen” list that tends to contain the most pesticides:

Dirty Dozen Produce List

Don’t Detox or Cleanse

Some “juice cleanse” diets claim you can detox your body by consuming only fresh fruit and vegetable juices for days at a time. But there is no scientific evidence that fasting or juicing removes toxins, and it can even be dangerous.

Your body already has effective systems in place to eliminate toxins through the liver, kidneys, digestive tract, skin, and lungs. Juice cleanses are unnecessary and carry risks including fatigue, nausea, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, andnutrient deficiencies.

Watch Out for Oxalate Content

Some leafy greens and vegetables contain moderate amounts of oxalates, which can aggregate in the urine and increase the risk of kidney stones in susceptible people. Greens high in oxalates include:

  • Spinach
  • Collards
  • Beets
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • Cucumber

If you are prone to developing kidney stones, limit high-oxalate greens and vegetables in your juicing recipes.

Don’t Replace Meals

Drink juice to supplement your diet, not as a meal replacement. Meals should contain a balance of protein, fat, and carbs. Juice is high in fruits and vegetables but lacks protein and fat.

Replacing too many meals with juice can result in nutritional deficiencies, muscle loss, fatigue, hunger, and poor appetite control. Have juice as a snack or part of a meal containing other nutrient-dense foods.

Consider Pasteurization

Pasteurizing juice destroys pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses. Pasteurization involves heating juice to high temperatures. This extends the shelf life but can also decrease some heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C.

Pasteurization is required for all commercially sold juices in the US. For homemade juices, pasteurization may be recommended if juicing for young children, pregnant women, older adults, or people with weakened immune systems.

Avoid Juicing Daily

It’s unnecessary and potentially harmful to juice every single day, especially fruit juices. The high sugar and calorie loads in juice can contribute to health issues when consumed in excess.

Limit juicing to 2-3 times per week max. Have no more than 4-6 oz of fruit juice per day for kids and 8 oz for adults, along with an overall healthy diet focused on whole foods.


Juicing can be a healthy way to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. However, juicing comes with some downsides to consider, including fewer fiber and nutrients than whole produce. It’s best to enjoy juice in moderation as part of a diet focused on whole foods for optimal health.

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