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

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