How Much Fruit Juice is Too Much?

Drinking too much juice can cause health problems

Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

Fruit juices can be full of sugar and high in calories

Freshly squeezed or 100% fruit juices taste delicious and are generally a healthy addition to a balanced diet, delivering lots of vitamin C and other nutrients (plus many are now fortified with added calcium).

Half a cup (125 mL) of fruit juice is also an effective way to get a serving of fruit into people who don’t like fruit. However, drinking too much juice can cause problems – especially for children.

While 100% fruit juices do contain vitamins, they also tend to be acidic, are higher in carbohydrates (all in the form of sugars) than milk, contain only small amounts of protein and minerals, and contain little or no fibre. They’re also high in calories: just half a cup (125 mL) of most fruit juices contains 60 to 80 calories.

Children who drink too much fruit juice are at increased risk of becoming overweight (calories) and developing dental cavities (due to the sugar and acidity). Over-consumption of fruit juices can also cause gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, excessive gas and abdominal pain. Further, drinking juice fills up small stomachs and may contribute to decreasing a child’s appetite for more nutritious foods. Another concern is that increased consumption of fruit juices is reducing the consumption of milk, greatly cutting the intake of bone-building calcium.

Fruit juices should always be enjoyed in moderation. When selecting fruit juice, choose 100% pure pasteurized fruit juice (avoid fruit drinks or fruit sodas, which often contain very little actual juice). Don’t give juice to children under six months of age. Children ages one to six should drink no more than 2/3 cup (175 mL) of juice a day; young people ages seven to 18 should drink no more than 1½ cups (375 mL) 
of juice a day. Also, encourage your children 
to eat whole fruits by offering easy access to grapes, berries and apples, cut-up fruits or a fresh fruit salad.

How to Hide Fruit in Food

  • Blend it up into fruit smoothies

  • Add chopped apples or berries or fruit purées to muffins

  • Add blueberries to pancakes

  • Make frozen puréed fruit pops

  • Served puréed berries over ice cream

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.