What Fruit Juice Can People With Diabetes Drink?

Fruit juice can contain sugar from the fruit itself as well as extra, added sugar
Fruit juice can contain sugar from the fruit itself as well as extra, added sugar

Fruit juice has, until recently, been considered a great way to get your five a day. people with diabetes need to moderate their fruit juice intake as larger glasses of juice can substantially raise blood sugar levels.

The key is to In addition, more recently, regular consumption of fruit juice has been linked with an increase in type 2 diabetes risk.

What's in fruit juice?

Aside from vitamin C and calcium, fruit juice contains:

  • Calories - 250ml glass of unsweetened orange juice typically contains around 100 calories, compared to the 60 calories in an actual orange
  • Fructose (a form of sugar) - half a pint of fruit juice contains more sugar than the World Health Organisation recommends ideally having in a day (30g of sugar for men, 24g for women)
  • A lack of fibre - juice always contains less fibre than whole fruit and highly processed juices may not contain any fibre

How does this affect my diabetes?

Badly, is the short answer. Sugar levels in fruit juice can cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of hyperglycemia.

The glycemic index, which is used to reflect the impact on blood sugar levels of individual foods, places orange juice between 66 and 76 on a scale of 100.

Compared to whole fruits and vegetables, juice doesn't offer much fibre. (it's stripped away in the juicing process).

Fibre is a kind of carbohydrate that, because the body doesn't break it down, is calorie-free, so it doesn't affect your blood sugar, making it important for people with diabetes.

Soluble fibre can help lower your cholesterol levels and improve blood glucose control if eaten in large amounts. Apples, oranges, and pears all contain soluble fibre, but not when juiced.

Is fruit juice all bad for people with diabetes?

Fruit juice has some benefits for people with diabetes. Despite the high sugar content, it is a good source of nutrients such as vitamin C.

A recent study on sugary drink consumption and premature cell aging discovered a link between fruit juice and longer telomeres. Telomeres are protective DNA on the end of cell chromosomes.

Longer telomeres are often associated with longer cell lifespan, whereas short telomeres have been linked to insulin resistance and diabetes.

The relatively high GI and high sugar content of fruit juice makes it useful for raising blood sugar levels, in case of hyperglycemia.

Does drinking fruit juice increase the risk of diabetes?

A study conducted in 2013 suggested that drinking three portions of fruit juice a week was associated with an eight per cent increase in diabetes risk.

Conversely, eating blueberries, grapes, apples and pears reduces the risk. The researchers found that replacing fruit juices with three helpings of certain whole fruits a week would lower the risk by seven per cent.

Some whole fruits reduced the risk more than others. For grapefruits and bananas, there was a five per cent decrease, whereas blueberries reduced the risk by 26 per cent.

So, should people with diabetes drink juice?

While juice can be fine in moderation, avoid consuming it excessively.

Whole fruits and vegetables are more advisable. There's less sugar, fewer calories, and more fibre, making them a stronger option for people with diabetes. That said, juice doesn't have to be ruled out altogether, and the sugar content and calories can be useful in certain situations.

What about vegetable juice?

Juiced non-starchy vegetables have a lower glycemic index and contain fewer carbohydrates than juiced fruit. The glycemic index of whole vegetables is lower still.

As with fruit, a proportion of the fibre from whole vegetables is likely be lost during the juicing process. Juiced vegetables can play a part in a healthy diet, particularly if juiced vegetables do not wholly replace having whole vegetables.

Explore Fruit Juice and Diabetes