FAQs: 100% OJ and Sugar

What kind of sugar is in orange juice?
100% orange juice contains no added sugars. Instead, the sweetness of 100% OJ is from naturally occurring sugars that develop in the orange as it grows on the tree.

How does that sugar compare to the sugar in the sugar bowl?
The naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, or in 100% fruit juice made from them, comes along with many nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and plant nutrients. Think of it as a package deal. By contrast, table sugar or high fructose corn syrup– which are added sugars and not naturally occurring sugars–provide calories but no other nutrients.

Is the sugar in 100% orange juice considered added sugar?
There is no added sugar in 100% orange juice. The sugar in 100% orange juice is naturally occurring as is the sugar in milk. The new food label announced by the FDA will show that there are 0 grams of added sugar in 100% orange juice.

Is the sugar in orange juice worse for you than other sugars?
Too many added sugars can fill your diet with “empty calories” or calories which don’t typically bring any nutrition or health benefits.  Naturally occurring sugars like those found in 100% orange juice and fruit are some of nature’s most nutrient-rich packages, delivering a bevy of benefits such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more.

Does the sugar in orange juice make you gain weight and is that why I hear people say not to drink a lot of orange juice?
The calorie level of all types of sugars is the same so it’s all about balance, moderation, and maximizing intake of vitamins, nutrients and other health benefits.

When choosing orange juice, make sure the label specifically says “100% orange juice” to avoid selecting beverages that may contain added sugar, other juices and fewer nutrients. Beware of labels that say “drinks,” “-ades,” “punches” and “cocktails” because these drinks may have added sugars and fewer nutrients compared to 100% orange juice.

Is it better to get Vitamin C, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals found in 100% orange juice from less sugary beverages and foods?
An 8 ounce glass of 100% orange juice boasts an impressive 137% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake, 11% of your daily folate and 14% of your potassium. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better all-in-one beverage source for this trifecta of nutrients.

How much sugar is in that serving of orange juice?
An 8 ounce glass of 100% orange juice contains around 21 grams of natural sugar and counts as a cup of fruit.

Is an orange healthier than orange juice?
Oranges and 100% orange juice offer a bevy of essential nutrients. Encouraging whole fruit is, of course, very important, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage us to get at least half of our fruit intake from whole fruit. A glass of 100% orange juice is a convenient, great tasting and quick way to get a lot of nutrients at once and an 8 ounce glass counts as a cup of fruit.

What does research say about sugar’s effect on health?

  • In order to promote health and combat the obesity epidemic, public health experts are focused on reducing the intake of foods and beverages with added sugars that have more calories and fewer nutrients.
  • 100% orange juice contains sugar that naturally develops as oranges grow on trees and no added sugar. The natural sugar in 100% orange juice comes along with a bevy of vitamins and minerals. By contrast, foods and beverages that contain added sugars are typically more nutrient poor and, when consumed in excess, tend to have adverse impacts on health.
  • The majority of research shows that there is no association between consumption of 100% orange juice/100% fruit juice and overweight or obesity status, BMI, body fat percentage or waist circumference in children or adults.
  • Additionally, studies show that the consumption of 100% orange juice is not associated with the adverse effects often seen with the overconsumption of added sugars, such as increased risk for metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and elevated glucose and insulin levels.

There is so much in the news about sugar, including cautions against drinking orange juice.  How can consumers determine if drinking 100% orange juice is the best choice for themselves and their families?
The Food and Drug Administration recently announced changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel that will make it easy for consumers to see the nutrient benefits in every glass of 100% orange juice. First and foremost, it has no added sugar. Secondly, one cup (or 8 ounces) is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium, folate and thiamin.

How does the calorie and sugar content of 100% orange juice compare to a serving of soda and candy?
You may have seen comparisons of the sugar in 100% orange juice, soda and candy coated chocolate pieces. Here are the facts:

100% orange juice (8 ounces) 110 calories 21 grams of naturally occurring sugar1
Soda, 12 ounce can 155 calories 37 grams of added sugar2
Candy coated chocolate pieces, small bag (47.9 g) 205 calories 34 grams of added sugar3

With the naturally occurring sugar from 100% orange juice you can enjoy a bevy of vitamins, minerals, and plant nutrients making it a more nutrient-rich choice than foods or beverages with added sugar. Making choices based on nutrition facts can help shape a balanced, nutritious lifestyle.


  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21. NDB 09209. Accessed 10/21/2008. This NDB was missing a value for sugars, therefore sugars amount taken from NDB 09215 – orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, diluted with 3 volume water.
  2. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28 (Slightly revised). Version Current: May 2016.  Basic Report:  14148, Beverages, carbonated, cola, regular.  Accessed October 19, 2016.
  3. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28 (Slightly revised). Version Current: May 2016. 45060522, CANDY COATED _ CHOCOLATE FLAVORED CANDY, UPC: 800093033042. Accessed October 19, 2016