Consumers are encouraged to carefully examine the products that they purchase for their family, which includes reading and understanding juice labels. For some, the term “juice” sounds healthy enough and they reach for the first bottle they see on the shelf, not realizing that they may have actually chosen an unhealthy cocktail or juice-flavored drink. For optimal health, being able to correctly interpret juice labels is important. In addition to understanding the varying terms used in the marketing of juice products, being educated about the actual ingredients found in these products will make you a smart consumer.
Perhaps the most important factor of anything we eat is that of the ingredients. What exactly makes up the juice that you gave your child for breakfast? Could the apple juice that you purchased really have a blend of other juices included? The simple answer to this is: yes. Juice manufacturer’s are able to incorporate blends of juices into their products, as long as the ingredients are listed on the nutrition facts label. When looking at the nutrition facts, carefully scrutinize the ingredient list for added sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, preservatives and even caffeine. Many consumers are shocked to discover that some fruit juices contain more sugar than sweetened soft drinks. On a nutrition label, ingredients are listed according to their weight in a particular product, with the largest quantity being listed first.
Used as a golden standard, a label that displays 100% juice indicates that the products is made with pure juice. However, the only way to know that you are purchasing a juice made of 100% juice is to read the label. Even in products that claim to be 100% juice, consumers may find water, citric acid (for tartness), absorbic acid (Vitamin C) or natural flavor added.
In this process, water is removed from 100% juice to make a concentrated form. Then, water is added back to juice to make 100% juice. Studies have shown that “from concentrate” and “not from concentrate” have closely related properties. The difference can be found in how the product is processed. From concentrate means that the fruit is squeezed, water is extracted and then added back. The product is then pasteurized and packaged. Not from concentrate means that the fruit is squeezed, creating a juice that is then pasteurized and packaged.
Cocktail, Drink or Juice Beverage
Though it can be tricky, which manufacturer’s know, these products are not pure juice. In some cases, they contain as little as 5% juice, with the rest being sugar, water, high-fructose corn syrup and other additives. To eliminate a significant amount of sugar in your diet, steer clear of these products.
Light or Sugar Free
Because manufacturer’s realize that people are making healthier nutrition choices, juices are now marketed for those that want to reduce sugar and/or calorie consumption. These products are diluted with water and artificially sweetened with low calorie sweeteners, such as Splenda.