Joyous Blog

Fresh Lemon vs. (Plastic) Lemon Juice: Which Is Better?

There is a more updated and recent post here.

In a very popular corporate workshop I teach I'm always singing the praises of lemon and water. The number one question someone ALWAYS asks me is "Can I just buy the lemon juice in the plastic bottle"? My answer is always NO. And let me tell you why....

Two words: Sulfur Dioxide (also known as sulfites)

This chemical is common in our food supply and used as a preservative to prevent the discolouration of fruit (you've all seen the bright orange apricots), as an anti-microbial for wine (you've likely seen the phrase "contains sulfites"), in frozen pizza dough and pie crust, and in the case of lemon juice, to prevent it from rotting.

I personally avoid buying wine when it states "contains sulfites". Pretty much all wine contains sulfites to a degree, but I avoid wine brands that have added sulfites. Now before I continue, I don't want you to think that sulfites are the most evil food additive on planet earth, because that's not the case. However, I do want you to think about eating more "real food" and that means food that doesn't contain chemical additives to maintain freshness.

This is a great food rule to live by: Buy food that can actually rot!

Here's some info for you on sulfur dioxide:

It is used to decolourize paper and cloth, as a bleaching agent and to treat chlorinated wastewater prior to release.

Sulfur dioxide blocks nerve signals from the pulmonary stretch receptor, which is precisely why it mimics asthma-like symptoms. To make matters worse, it also inhibits your lungs from over-inflating, which is why you feel like you can't take full deep breaths when exposed to sulfites.

Sulfur dioxide emissions are a precursor to acid rain which kills fish and stimulates the overgrowth of algae.

It is the poisonous gas emitted by volcanic eruptions.

Coal and petroleum burn off often contain sulfur compounds.

These types of sulfur compounds are harmful to the environment, plant and animal life.

Now keep in mind I'm not a chemist, but it wouldn't be too far off to assume the vitamin C and other minerals in the lemon juice are not as potent as they otherwise would be. Furthermore, the LAST thing you want to do is chug back lemon juice that's been sitting on a store shelf in a plastic bottle potentially leaching phthlates (plastisicers) and BPA (bisphenol-A) in to the juice.

What kind of nutrition are you getting from a fruit that's likely been squeezed 6 months or even 2 years earlier and packaged for sale and then potentially sit in your fridge for another 6 months to a year.

Just buy a bag of lemons and squeeze the juice every morning. If you don't like lemons, then 1 capful of apple cider vinegar does the trick too! The beautifying, detoxifying benefits of endless!

Here's a video I recently did on the benefits of lemon and water .

Have a joyous day!


Zosia   •   March 26, 2012

Hi Joy, I've heard that it's better not to dilute the lemon in water when drinking it in the morning, especially if you want it to help detoxify the liver. Have you read anything about this? Thanks, Zosia


Tamzin   •   March 27, 2012

Here here! The way I start everyday : )


Fresh Lemon juice vs. lemon juice from concentrate | SaluBRIouslyMe   •   March 11, 2013

[...] Fresh Lemon juice vs. lemon juice from concentrate [...]


Theron Giancaspro   •   May 14, 2013

Lemon oil may be used in aromatherapy. Researchers at The Ohio State University found that lemon oil aroma does not influence the human immune system, but may enhance mood.


Hellen   •   May 24, 2013

Just wished to say I am relieved that i stumbled on your website page.

Joy McCarthy   •   May 24, 2013

Great thanks!

saras   •   July 26, 2015

Hi can lemon and water make me lose weight I need to lose 10 kg and belly fat

Kate McDonald Walker   •   July 28, 2015

Hi Saras, While lemon water's really helpful for getting digestion going, no one thing is the key to weight loss, it's going to be a combination of eating the right foods, exercise and making the right lifestyle changes. Kate - Joyous Health Team

Jbrown   •   July 31, 2015

You lost me at "detoxify"... You're liver does this with no extra help.


Sharon Chisholm   •   November 7, 2015

Thank you for this info. I've always wondered if I was doing right or wrong by buying the bottled lemon juice. Now I know for sure. Might even get a small juicer to do it. Thanks!

Kate McDonald Walker   •   November 9, 2015

You're very welcome! Kate - Joyous Health Team

John hill   •   December 15, 2015

Hi Joy - and I'm so pleased I've found your article online! Really enlightening! I suddenly became very ill this August during a long weekend in the Lake District. My wife and I are (or rather, we 'were') keen hikers, and just had time to take the difficult Corridor Trail up and back before I had to admit I wasn't actually very well. Long story short, it was the start of a spate asthma attacks that eventually hospitalised me and pneumonia descended on me too. I've had a horrific few months, and a long overdue appointment with an immunologist last weeks resulted in me being diagnosed as having had an adverse reaction to sulphites. Never heard them til then, and I should say, I had no idea i was asmathic (I'm a fit non smoking, 48 year old). What I thought may be of interest to you was that up until the appointment last week I had been consuming probably 2 bottles of coop lemon juice concentrate - a little at a time, with honey and hot water but several times a day. I thought I was being healthy and it'd keep my airways free. Needles to say I have stopped now. But, a week later, I still feel constantly sick (so not hungry), woolly headed, exhausted and my stomach feels like it's constantly churning and bloated. Do you think I've done permanent damagage, or am I just sulfites Cold Turkey? Sorry to bother you with this but I could believe my luck when I stumbled on you. If you can shed any light or give me any hope I'd be delighted! Thank you so much, John


Branden   •   March 10, 2016

Hi Joy, How do you feel about a product called True Lemon. They sell it in a concentrate powder form and it states, "100% natural ingredients with no artificial sweeteners, colors, sodium or preservatives". Thanks!

Kate McDonald Walker   •   March 14, 2016

Hi Branden, We still tend to prefer getting our lemon juice straight from the lemon, that way you really do know lemon juice is all you're getting. Kate - Joyous Health Team

Pam Winer   •   March 21, 2016

Great video! I enjoy eat clean, low carb no sugar videos Thank you

Heather Allen   •   March 21, 2016

Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it Pam :) Heather- Joyous Health Team

franklin   •   March 29, 2016

I am thinking about waste. Using half a lemon and throwing the other half out. Any suggestions here? What would squeezing a whole lemon in water in a seal-able container, half to be drank now and the other to be microwaved tomorrow? Sounds a lot like pinching pennies to some but being frugal to others.

Heather Allen   •   March 29, 2016

Hi Franklin! You could definitely do that! I would suggest adding hot/boiling water to warm the water rather than microwaving it.You could also store the lemon cut side down on a small side plate to maintain freshness (without the plastic wrap) and use it for a salad dressing later on or in your water the next day! Enjoy:) Heather-Joyous Health Team

Jamie O   •   May 3, 2016

Do limes work as well as lemons? I never read about them, but I prefer them. Thanks!

Heather Allen   •   May 3, 2016

Hi Jamie! Lemons have a higher vitamin C content than limes, but they otherwise have similar benefits :) Heather- Joyous Health Team

Jan   •   June 15, 2016

Apple cider vinegar is in a plastic bottle too so why is it good but not lemon juice in a plastic bottle? This gets confusing.

Heather Allen   •   June 15, 2016

Hi Jan! It comes down to the preservatives added to the product. Lemon juice commonly has sulfur dioxide added, which for the reasons mentioned in the article, you want to avoid. Apple cider vinegar rarely (if ever) has any preservatives added and can be purchased in glass bottles (which I would recommend). Thanks for reaching out! I hope that helps :) Heather- Joyous Health Team

Marce Boyd   •   June 22, 2016

Can you use organic lemon juice in a glass bottle?

Heather Allen   •   June 22, 2016

Fresh lemons are best whenever possible as delicate nutrients like vitamin C can be easily destroyed (from sitting in a bottle) and even the organic options can have additives. Happy squeezing, Marce! Heather- Joyous Health team

Penny   •   May 31, 2017

organic apple cider has a brand called BRAGG, and it comes in glass bottles. It contains "The Mother", which is the beneficial brown stuff you see in the bottom of it. Look them up, and they have much info for different benefits and uses for BRAGG acv. Have a good day!

Rachel Molenda   •   June 1, 2017

That sounds like some pretty hefty stuff! That's great :) If that works better for you, that sounds like a great alternative to fresh lemon! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

tanya   •   February 25, 2017

I have a question. I understand that great benefits of fresh lemons and why I should put them in my water. If I am faced with a situation where I can either drink plain water, or water with lemon from a bottle (because I ran out of fresh ones), which is more beneficial? You me

Rachel Molenda   •   February 27, 2017

Hey Tanya! That's a great question - it can definitely be a confusing topic. In this case, drinking plain water would be more beneficial than the lemon from a squeeze bottle. The lemon from the squeeze bottle actually contains a chemical/preservative called sulfur dioxide which prevents fruit/food from discolouring. If we're looking to keep your toxic chemical exposure to a minimum, it's best to avoid it :) You can read more about that here: Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Linda   •   May 31, 2017

How about taking stains out of clothes, would it work the plastic lemon work the same as real???

Rachel Molenda   •   June 1, 2017

Hey Linda, That may work although we've only used fresh so we wouldn't be able to vouch for that. If you end up trying it, let us know how it works :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Linda   •   June 5, 2017

What about using a few drops of lemon essential oil in water. Would you get the same benefits?

Rachel Molenda   •   June 6, 2017

Hey Linda, There would certainly be health benefits that would come with that but we would still recommend using the real whole fresh lemon :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Caren Daub   •   June 27, 2017

Is it okay to use stevia in the lemon and water? By the way, I really liked your informative video!

Rachel Molenda   •   June 28, 2017

Hey Caren, If you want to make a little homemade lemonade from time to time, that would be fine! But for the sake of getting an adequate amount of water in on a daily basis, we would recommend just the lemon and water. Adding stevia in everytime might train your palette to eventually crave sweets or not be able to drink water without sweetener. You'll find the lemon offers its own natural sweetness in itself :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Jeanetta   •   July 14, 2017

Can I use artificial sweeteners in the lemon water or will it void its effectiveness?

Rachel Molenda   •   July 17, 2017

Hey Jeanetta, We would advise against artificial sweeteners altogether. They aren't very health promoting and actually come with a wealth of negative side effects :( When drinking water, it's also important to get used to the taste of water and learn to appreciate it. When we mask it with sweet flavours, we become conditioned to that and may find it difficult to drink water in its natural state if we become too used to it. I hope that helps :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Lorraine   •   January 5, 2018

Hi Joy! What about using a drop of essential lemon oil? The brand I have is of good quality and is said to be pure. Will it work like a fresh lemon?

Rachel Molenda   •   January 5, 2018

Hey Lorraine, You could probably still get some of the nutritional properties of the lemon that way, but for digestion purposes (as the lemon will help to secrete digestive juices), it's best to use fresh lemon if possible! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Marty   •   January 25, 2018

Rachel what about Organic Lemon like Lakewood that says "no added sulfites"? I have been using this in my water and I'm sure there is a bit of loss of Vitamin C, but reading some other articles this is still beneficial. Thanks!

Rachel Molenda   •   January 26, 2018

Hey Marty, You are still going to get some benefits from it but it won't compare to a freshly squeezed lemon. Mind you, work up to it and be mindful of what works best for you right now :) I would say that the lemon you're using is a lesser evil for sure and you will still reap benefits from it. Then maybe one day you can move on to the freshly squeezed lemon! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Tina   •   January 28, 2018

Can I squeeze several lemons at one time and store in the refrigerator for the week? Will I lose anything by doing this?

Rachel Molenda   •   January 29, 2018

Hey Tina, Technically once you cut into or squeeze a fruit like lemon, it starts to lose its nutritional quality so we would recommend cutting up a fresh lemon wedge daily :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Magda   •   February 21, 2018

Can i use store bought lemon juice on my hair? Will olive oil and refined coconut oil do?.

Rachel Molenda   •   February 21, 2018

Hey Magda, What were you hoping to use it in your hair for? Coconut oil in your hair can be very moisturizing if that's what you were trying to achieve :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Judi   •   March 7, 2018

You mention having the water at room temperature. Would it be adventagious to slice the lemons, put them in a jar and room temp water, seal, and leave overnight?

Rachel Molenda   •   March 8, 2018

Hey Judi, Once you slice into the lemon, it's going to start to lose its vitamin C content so its best if you can slice it fresh in the morning. With that said, don't stress too much and do the best you can :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Wendy   •   March 28, 2018

Hi. Can you premake the lemon and water the night before, (to have readily available beside upon waking) or should the lemon be squeezed just before consumption? Thank you

Rachel Molenda   •   March 28, 2018

Hey Wendy, We recommend freshly squeezing it as it will start to lose its nutritional properties (especially vitamin C) once you cut into it so it's best to do fresh if possible. Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Kay   •   April 8, 2018

oh my goodness with these same questions! Just read, it’s all there By the way it okay if I use bottled lemon juice? :D jk thanks for the very informative article!

Joy McCarthy   •   April 8, 2018

Fresh is always best! But if you're using certified organic pure lemon in a glass bottle, then that's a good sub, but definitely not in a plastic bottle. Glad you liked the article Kay!

Nancy Gant   •   April 13, 2018

Thank you, I'm trying lemon

Rachel Molenda   •   April 13, 2018

Wonderful Nancy! We hope you enjoy it :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Bern   •   May 2, 2018

I get that the green plastic lemon is not good but what about Realemon in glass ? It’s all I have on hand Is there any benefits using this temporarily?

Rachel Molenda   •   May 2, 2018

Hey Bern, Once a lemon is cut or squeezed, it begins to lose its nutritional value which is why we put such a huge emphasis on enjoying it in its fresh, whole food form :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Lauren Neidig   •   May 5, 2018

Can I juice the whole lemon half and add that to warm water. Alternatively, if I cut the skin off, and juice all the lemon in my Nutribullet, will that be ok.? Thank you:)

Rachel Molenda   •   May 7, 2018

Hey Lauren, Yup! That's fine :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Robert   •   May 30, 2018

I'm glad u made me aware of the difference and values of lemon juice


Ray   •   June 4, 2018

What are your thoughts of lemon juice from a glass bottle?

Joy McCarthy   •   June 4, 2018

Hi Ray, fresh is always best, but I the organic cold pressed juice in a glass bottle is your next best option :)

J smith   •   June 11, 2018

The practice of adding sulfite to wine to preserve it from the decay of oxidation as the wine ages has been practiced for at least 3,000 years. The ancient Greeks and the Romans used it. Grow up. It is just sulfur.

Rachel Molenda   •   June 12, 2018

While it is a tool for preservation, it doesn't necessarily mean its a health-promoting tool. Since its easily avoidable by using fresh lemon, we simply prefer and recommend to do that so you can soak up all of the nutritional and healing properties of it as well! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

louis   •   June 22, 2018

"Buy food that actually rot", so not that cider vinegar then? Or honey, I should avoid honey.

Joy McCarthy   •   June 23, 2018

Those would be two exceptions, but I think you already know that ;)

Deborah   •   July 19, 2018

Thank you for the breakdown. It's very informative. I am asthmatic too that really helped me to grasp the gravity of the situation.

Joy McCarthy   •   July 20, 2018

Glad to hear it helped you Deborah!

Sean   •   August 6, 2018

Hello! I recently just started juicing 1 or 2 whole organic lemons a day using a manual juicer. It seems as though I can never get more than 1/2 oz to an ounce. Any techniques to get the most juice, or does a little bit go a long way? Thanks in advance.

Rachel Molenda   •   August 7, 2018

Hey Sean, Are you using ripe lemons? I would recommend using ripe lemons as they are often much juicer and you're able to get more lemon juice out of them :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Nancy   •   August 11, 2018

I am trying to quit smoking can it help me out?

Joy McCarthy   •   August 12, 2018

Hmmm, not really sure drinking lemon and water will help you quit smoking, but it will help your body's alkalinity and provide you with much needed vitamin C. Smokers are a great need of antioxidants like vitamin C to combat all the free radicals created from the toxins in cigarettes.

Susan   •   August 17, 2018

One capful of Apple Cider vinegar to how much water and how often a day. I drinks at least 4-5 12-16 oz of water a day.

Rachel Molenda   •   August 17, 2018

Hey Susan! I would dilute the apple cider vinegar in 1-2oz of water, or you can put it in a glass and sip it but I typically like to shoot it and get it over with, hehe :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

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