Who doesn’t love fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice? It’s refreshing, delicious and nutritious. But unless you live in a tropical climate year-round or have oodles of time to squeeze your own citrus, you’re probably not enjoying fresh juice very often. How about juice from frozen concentrate or some of the other popular juice drinks? This week, we’ll take a look at what’s juicy on the market.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely aware of the celery juice craze. According to the “Medical Medium”, celery juice can help with weight loss, clearer skin, improved digestion and other medical issues. Given its bitter taste and “stalky” texture, it doesn’t sound like the most palatable thing to consume, which is why most recipes for celery juice include other items like apple juice, strawberries, kale, bananas and more. While all of these items are healthy, there’s nothing magical about celery juice, per se. If you leave the pulp with the juice, you’ll get the benefit of fiber and depending on which fruits or vegetables are added, the juice will contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Currently few (if any) studies have evaluated whether or not celery juice may benefit your health. Most concentrate on the nutrients contained in the vegetable, which may be available in other produce. Don’t let your clients be fooled by this “magic” juice.1
Orange juice from frozen concentrate has been around for years. Concentrated juice is just that- the extra fluid from the juice is taken out, so just the orange solids are concentrated and left to be packaged and frozen. This creates a more compact product. The juice is then “reconstituted” before use. Check the label for added sugars such as sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. Light juices are also popular for weight control or blood sugar management. Some contain half the calories and carbohydrate than traditional juice. Not surprisingly, the first ingredient is water, not juice and most contain some type of artificial sweetener. Perhaps juice can just be mixed with half water and have the same effect? Reduced calorie juice is often simply watered down.
Juice cocktails tend to contain less juice and potentially more added sugar. For example, a popular cranberry juice cocktail contains 140 calories in 8 oz. with 31 grams of sugar, 11 of them added. Beyond carbohydrate, the only other nutritional advantage to the juice is vitamin C (150% of the Daily Value). Straight cranberry juice tastes more tart, often contains a blend of other juices and may be sweetened with added sugar. Calories are not much lower than traditional juice (119 VS 140 per 8 oz.).
Juice boxes are popular among the toddler crowd. One nice feature is the prepackaged serving size, along with the non-spill portability for small hands. Most juice boxes are between 6.7 and 8 oz. in size and contain either 100% juice or a blend of juice. Beware of juice “waters” or juice drink blends. These may contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners, which you may or may not want your child to consume. In addition, it’s important to look for juice with no added color as these have been linked with hyperactivity in some studies. 2
The new Nutrition Facts Label, showing added sugars will appear on most items by January 2020. This will enable consumers to quickly check the Nutrition Facts Label to read the amount of added sugar in beverages. It is always a good idea to check the ingredient list and the percent of real juice used in a beverage. Healthy sounding drinks might actually contain quite a bit of added sugar and calories.
Since juice can be fairly high in calories, easy to drink in large quantities, and low in fiber, it might be best saved for athletes or other individuals with higher caloric requirements. Or it can be used as a flavoring agent to make your own soda and ice cubes for water.
If your clients are seeking something flavored because they’re not wild about plain water, here are a few options beyond juice:
- Unsweetened iced tea with lemon
- Flavored seltzer water
- Fruit or vegetable infused water (such as cucumbers or berries)
- Soda water with a twist of lemon or lime
- 2. L. Eugene Arnold, 1,2 Nicholas Lofthouse,1 and Elizabeth Hurt2 Artificial Food Colors and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Symptoms: Conclusions to Dye for. Neurotherapeutics. 2012 Jul; 9(3): 599–609.
By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
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Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and owner of Sound Bites Nutrition in Cincinnati. She shares her clinical, culinary, and community nutrition knowledge through cooking demos, teaching, and freelance writing. Lisa is a regular contributor to Food and Health Communications and Today’s Dietitian and is the author of the Healing Gout Cookbook, Complete Thyroid Cookbook, and Heart Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Her line of food pun merchandise, Lettuce beet hunger, supports those suffering food insecurity in Cincinnati. For more information, visit her website: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/