Pure fruit juice is known for its vitamins, minerals and plant components that are known to be beneficial for health. In addition, it contains 9-10% natural fruit sugars. So, how does regular consumption relate to chronic disease risk? This was examined in the Netherlands cohort of the EPIC study; the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (1).
Food intake data were collected using a validated food frequency questionnaire from more than 34,000 adults aged 20-69 years (74% women). Risks of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke were assessed over a 15-year follow-up period. Statistical analyses were performed to test associations between different consumption patterns of 100% pure fruit juice (i.e. no added sugars) or whole fruit, and risk of CVD, heart disease and stroke.
The results showed that the median intakes of fruit in the cohort was 127g per day at baseline which equates to just 1 ½ portions. Median fruit juice consumption was very low at 40g per day which is around 1/3 of a glass. Orange juice was the most popular fruit juice.
Compared with no consumption, drinking up to one glass per day of 100% pure fruit juice was signiﬁcantly associated with a 12-17% reduced risk of CVD and CHD, and a 20-24% reduced risk of stroke. Drinking more than 8 glasses of fruit juice per week was not associated with increased risk of these conditions.
Associations between fruit juice and chronic disease risk were similar between low and high fruit consumers, suggesting that 100% fruit juice complements the beneficial role of whole fruit in the diet. In comparison, higher intakes of whole fruit were only significantly associated with a lower incidence of CVD – around 12-13% reduced risk with intakes over 121g per day.
Both fruits and 100% fruit juices are rich in nutrients which are believed to support normal heart health, such as potassium (supports normal blood pressure), folate (lowers homocysteine) and vitamin C (antioxidant). In addition, citrus fruits and juices contain hesperidin, a polyphenol with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties proven to support vascular health (2).
These findings suggest that drinking a moderate amount of pure fruit juice daily contributes to an appropriate diet for chronic disease risk reduction.
For more information, see:
- Scheffers FR et al. (2019) Pure fruit juice and fruit consumption and the risk of CVD: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition–Netherlands (EPIC-NL) study. British Journal of Nutrition 121(3): 351-359. Read the article here.
- Morand C et al. (2011) Hesperidin contributes to the vascular protective effects of orange juice: a randomized crossover study in healthy volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr 93: 73–80.