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Real Juice vs. Juice "Wannabes": Here Are the Facts.

In a simple world, fruit or vegetable juice would be just that--nutritious juice squeezed from fruits or vegetables. That's certainly what the dizzying display of juices, blends, cocktails, drinks and nectars in today's supermarkets purport to be. But, in reality, much of what is sold today in the guise of juice doesn't even come close.

The Real Juice Difference. Juices generally contain the same nutrients as the produce they come from. (Researchers think the same is true for the disease-fighting phytochemicals in produce.) Fiber, however, does come up decidedly short when comparing juice to whole fruits and vegetables. For example, a glass of orange juice has about half a gram of fiber, an orange over three grams.

Juices have been fortified with vitamin C for years, but recently there's been an explosion of calcium-fortified drinks, plus other nutrient-added concoctions. However, fortification can't make up for drinks that aren't 100% juice.

Sweeteners. Many beverages have added sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. Using juice concentrates instead allows companies to claim "100% juice" on the label. Keep in mind that, sweeteners or no, the calories in juices can add up fast.

Juice Sleight of Hand. The Food and Drug Administration mandates that any beverage resembling a fruit or vegetable juice must list the percentage of juice it contains. Many products, like Sunny Delight, Tropicana Twisters and Capri Sun, contain just 5% to 10% juice. In effect, they are little more than sweetened, flavored water. Even juices labeled "100% juice" might not be what you think. For example, the main juice in Nantucket Nectars Peach Orange Nectar is white grape juice concentrate, a fact hidden in the fine print of the ingredient list.

Juicy ruit (and Vegetable) Tips

* Aim to meet the 5-A-Day goal by eating a variety of whole fruits and vegetables as well as juices.

* Select only 100% juices. (The terms "beverage," "cocktail," "drink" and "punch" indicate a beverage is not 100% juice.)

* Check ingredients to know what's really in a juice, paying attention to those near the beginning of the list, which are present in the greatest amount.

* Choose citrus juices often. They're important sources of vitamin C and potassium and, if fortified, calcium. Choose O.J. for folic acid as well.

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Title Annotation:how to choose whole juice products
Author:Walsh, Julie
Publication:Environmental Nutrition
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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