How Much Sugar is Actually in Orange Juice?
A common misconception about orange juice is that it’s jam-packed with added sugars. In truth, 100% orange juice contains NO added sugars, and the sweetness you taste is from naturally occurring sugars that develop as the oranges grow on the trees.
All fruit has naturally occurring sugar that comes with many nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds.
How to Tell if Sugar is Added in Orange Juice?
100% orange juice, by law, has nothing added. Look for labels that say 100% orange juice. Words like “beverage, drink, -ade, punch, or cocktails” usually indicate it is not 100% fruit juice. If added sugars have been included, the ingredients list may have words such as “corn syrup, dextrose, or sucrose.”
Sugar and Calories
Foods with added sugars have come under scrutiny because they provide mostly “empty calories,” without adding nutritional benefits, and may contribute to excessive calorie intake associated with weight gain.3-5 Unfortunately, any foods with sugars are often lumped into this category, even those of high nutritional value such as 100% orange juice.
The number of oranges needed to make an 8-ounce glass of orange juice can vary depending upon the citrus variety, how juicy the oranges are, and their size. Oranges grown for juicing in the production of commercial Florida Orange Juice are so juicy that it only takes about 1.7 oranges on average to make an 8-ounce glass of juice.2* Thus, if you ate the same quantity of whole oranges as OJ, you would consume the same amount of sugar.2
Unlike table sugar, which only provides calories, the natural sugar in 100% orange juice comes with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Orange juice is one of nature’s nutrient-rich foods! And a convenient way to reach one’s daily fruit intake recommendations.
At the end of the day, the calorie level of all sugars is the same, so it’s about balance and moderation. Replace those empty calorie foods with more nutritional foods.
Detailed Nutrition Information
Sugars are Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates include sugars and starches (which break down into sugars). Carbohydrates are naturally occurring and found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. Simply put, they provide your body with energy. Your brain and blood cells require sugar to function properly.3
100% orange juice, as well as other 100 percent fruit juices, is not related to excess weight, body mass index (BMI), or other indices of obesity or being overweight in both adults and children, and clinical studies testing 100% orange juice or 100 percent fruit juice have not resulted in increased obesity or 7,9-14
The effect of satiety (fullness) and hunger has also been studied with 100% orange juice consumption. Satiety increased and the desire to eat decreased in participants after consuming 8 ounces of 100% orange juice compared to water in a randomized clinical trial.15 Adding pomace from oranges to the juice (which adds more fiber and flavonoids) increased these effects and was similar to whole blended oranges. Feeling full may help in making healthier food choices at your next meal.
A study following adolescent girls over time found naturally occurring sugars (both solids and liquids) were not associated with weight or adiposity (BMI z-score, waist circumference change).27 Analyses NHANES data (2009-2014) for children 2-19 years of age also found naturally-occurring sugars as liquids (e.g. fruit juice) or solids (e.g. fruit) were not associated with overweight of obesity.28 However, it is important to remember that it is the sum of the diet, not just one nutrient like sugar, along with physical activity, lifestyle behaviors, and other factors (e.g. genetics) that are involved in energy balance.3 Excess calories from any food may result in a higher risk for being overweight. As the Dietary Guidelines for Americans state, “foods containing added sugars are no more likely to contribute to weight gain than any other source of calories in an eating pattern that is within calorie limits.”5
Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Excess calories consumed from any food can increase body fat. Overweight, obesity, elevated triglycerides and fasting blood glucose are some of the risk factors for diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Research indicates 100% orange juice or 100 percent fruit juice is not associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and studies show no adverse effects on glucose or insulin metabolism.11, 16-18
Fruit Intake and Diet Quality
Dietary patterns recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans include eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. An 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice counts as one cup of fruit or one serving of fruit. These are based upon lowered risk of disease and improved nutrient intake.5 According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, about one-third of the U.S. population’s fruit intake comes from fruit juice.5
Research shows that both adults and children who regularly consume 100% orange juice or 100 percent fruit juice are more likely to have higher diet quality, higher intake of vitamins and minerals, and higher whole fruit intake.10,11,14,15,19,20 These results show 100% fruit juice is complementary and not competitive with whole fruit intake and may encourage the consumption of whole fruit.
Fermentable carbohydrates provide a favorable environment for oral bacteria to thrive and may increase the risk for dental caries. However, fluoride exposure, oral hygiene, food composition, timing (exposure, frequency), and host dynamics (e.g. genetics, dietary behaviors, gut microbiome) are also major factors.5,21-22
Sugar intake alone is not the cause of cavities.5,21-22 In fact, the “relationship between sugar consumption and caries is much weaker in the modern age of fluoride exposure than it used to be.”23 Research indicates 100 percent fruit juice does not independently cause dental caries.21,24-26
*Comparisons made between averages in weight, water, energy, and sugar content in orange juice (09206, 09209) and whole oranges (09203) of different sizes.
* Values based on a 2000 calorie diet. FDA rounding rules applied when calculating percent DV based upon 2018 rules. Information is not intended for labeling food in packaged form. USDA SR28 database entries for 90206 and 09209 were used for calculating RDI.
- Ghanim et al.Diabetes Care. 2007;30:1406-1411.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28 (slightly revised). US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory; May 2016. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 2005:265-324.
- Slavin et al. Adv Nutr. 2014; 5:760-761.
- USDA/DHHS. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines
- Rampersaud. Food Sci. 2007;200772(4):S261-266.
- O’Neil et al.Am J Lifestyle Medicine. 2008; 2(4):315-354.
- Hall et al. Gastroenterol. 2017; 152:1718-1727.
- Evidence Analysis Library (EAL), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dietary and Metabolic Impact of Fruit Juice Consumption Evidence Analysis Project. www.andevidencelibrary.com2014.
- Crowe-White et al. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016;56(5):871-884.
- O’Neil et al.Nutr J. 2012;11:107.
- Wang et al. Pub Health Nutr. 2012; 15(12):2220-2227.
- Auerbach et al. Pediatrics. 2017;139(4):e201624541
- O’Neil CE et al. Nutr Res.2011;31:673-682.
- Dong et al. Appetite. 2016; 107:478-485.
- Duffey et al.Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;92(4):954-959.
- Palmer et al. Arch Intern Med. 2008;28(168):1487-1492.
- Auerbach et al. Prev Med.2017;105:212-218.
- Yang et al. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013;45(4):340-348.
- Lee et al. J Med Food. 2014;17(10):1142-1150.
- Palmer. Nutr Today. 2017;52(2S):March/April.
- Gupta et al. ISRN Dental. 2013;519421.
- Burt et al. J Dental Educ. 2001; 62(10):1017-1023.
- Lim et al. J Acad Dent Assoc. 2014; 139(7):959-967.
- Evans et al. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013; 113(8):1057-1061.
- Vargas et al. J Acad Dent Assoc. 2014;145(12):1254-1261.
- Lee et al. Obes Sci Pract. 2015;1(1):41-49
- Welsh et al. Pediatr Obes. 2018;13(4):213-221