Q. How does eating a piece of fresh fruit, such as an orange, compare to drinking the juice after squeezing by hand?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 20 February 2015.
Tagged: antioxidants, fibre, healthy eating, juice, vitamins

Q. How does eating a piece of fresh fruit, such as an orange, compare to drinking the juice after squeezing by hand?

A. The juice has the same level of vitamins, minerals and plant antioxidants as in the original fruit. Only the fibre is reduced as this is usually left behind after juicing. Yes you can add back any pulp from the juicer, so you get closer to the full complement of nutrients as in the whole fruit but it’s still not the same thing as eating that whole orange.

Swap drinking for eating

I stopped drinking juice during my nutrition course as I’d rather eat (chew) a piece of real fruit and drink water. It started out as Calorie reduction but now I prefer it. It’s rare for me to drink juice or smoothies. And here are my 3 reasons why …

  1. Basically fruit juice isn't the same as intact fruit. It has as much sugars – yes, even though they’re natural - as many fizzy sugary drinks and cordials. The sugars in juice can range anywhere from 6 to 14 per cent sugars. Even 100% orange juice has about 8 per cent fructose (a natural fruit sugar).
  2. The next big problem is portion size. Remember that one orange at 360kJ/85Cals yields a tiny quarter-cup of juice yet most of us would prefer to enjoy ONE glass - which is equivalent to 4 oranges or 1440kJ/345cals. So juice represents fruit but in concentrated form - lovely to sip but easy to overconsume!

Half a glass of juice (a small 125mL or 4 oz) is classified as ONE serve of fruit and is acceptable as one of your two recommended serves of fruit – but only occasionally. 

  1. Being in liquid form, the sugars in juice are absorbed quickly, so by the time it gets to your small intestine for absorption your body doesn't know whether it's Fanta or orange juice. The mere fact that the fruit is pureed/pressed changes its structure (breaks down cell walls, reduces fibre) and increases the rate that the sugars get absorbed.

Juice has lost its health halo

Over the last couple of years there has been more evidence that fruit juices are basically just fructose and water, and have a similar effect on the body’s blood glucose to fizzy and soft drinks.

Because it’s ‘natural’ and pressed from real fruit, we used to think of fruit juice as being a good-for-you choice and a healthy substitute for soft drink. So guzzling a huge 500ml bottle or buddy, say from a juice bar, is certainly fat-free and fresh but gives you lots of sugars and kilojoules/Calories. Similarly children were being brought up on unlimited amounts straight from the fridge.

Half a glass 125ml (4oz) glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice contains 165 kJ / 40 Calories and is the equivalent of one orange. However it has a fraction of the fibre and a little more sugars. See below:

1 orange 8g carbs (sugars)
125mL orange juice 10g carbs (sugars)

Download our popular Fact Sheet on Juice and juicing.

Image courtesy of trontnort via photopin cc

The bottom line

Enjoy that freshly-squeezed juice when oranges (or other fruit) are cheap and in season. If you are going to drink it, have a small 125mL/4oz glass OR dilute it with water, soda water or ice. The rest of the year swap juice for a piece of real whole fruit.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.