Bottled juices are available everywhere, and they often seem like a better alternative to soda when we want a sweet and satisfying drink to enjoy. But are they really all that much better?
This may come as a surprise, but juice is packed full of a very addictive ingredient: sugar. We know what you're thinking: "But orange juice is made from oranges! Oranges are a healthy food, so how can the juice from an orange be unhealthy?" Let's break down why that bottled juice isn't as great as you may think.
The Bad Side of Store-Bought Juice
You would never eat the number of oranges it takes to make one bottle of juice.
Think about it this way: if you eat one large orange, you'll most likely feel full afterwards. If you drink a bottle of juice (made from the juice of about 8 oranges), you will not feel full.
When you eat the whole fruit you consume all the good fiber that satisfies your hunger. Fiber helps slow down the movement of fruit through your body allowing for better absorption of nutrients. We could never normally eat 8 oranges in one sitting, it would be completely unnatural (and uncomfortable). Our intake of fruit sugar would be limited to the one orange we could comfortably eat, not the juice of 8 oranges.
They are highly pasteurized.
Pasteurization is a step in processing where the juice is heated to 161 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill off harmful bacteria. Although this is an important food safety precaution, this process also destroys naturally occurring enzymes and vitamins.
Longer shelf life means less nutrition.
Fruit and vegetables break down quickly when harvested, as they contain enzymes that speed up the process (part of what makes them easier for our bodies to digest). Fresh produce also contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals when in their whole form that deteriorate very quickly after they are ground up or pressed.
Pasteurization and preservatives extend the shelf life of juices, but not the nutrients within them.
A Better Way To Enjoy Juice
These are specifically the faults in bottled store-bought juices, however there are some better choices you can make when at the grocery store and at home.
In one of our favorite health documentaries, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Joe Cross illustrates how drinking juice can have a very positive effect on your health especially in cases when your body needs a serious reboot.
Here are some tips for finding the best juice at the store, and for enjoying the most nutritious juices at home:
Look for labels that say cold-pressed and low-pasteurized.
Pressed juices retain more nutrients, as does pasteurization at lower temperatures and duration.
Always read ingredients for sugar content.
There are some bottled juices that contain up to 40 grams of sugar - just as bad as a can of soda! Read labels and serving sizes thoroughly.
Choose organic whenever possible.
If you're deciding on juice over soda, you may as well choose the highest quality available.
Choose higher vegetable content or a combination (rather than just fruit).
More veggies means less sugar. Although fruit sugar is better than refined sugar, it is still processed in the body in the same way and should be consumed in moderation. Also, we can always use more vegetables.
The shorter the shelf-life the better.
If you have to choose between a juice that was pressed in the store today that expires tomorrow, and a juice that was shipped in from another state that has an expiration date of 3-weeks from now, buy the former. If you can find a cafe or restaurant that makes juice to order while you wait, even better!
If juicing at home, get a press juicer rather than masticating juicer.
When fruits are pressed, less damage is done to their delicate cells and the juice will retain nutritional value for a longer period of time (hence the reason to choose pressed juice in the store as well). Masticating juicers shred fruits and veggies, which makes them break down much faster. If you already have a masticating juicer, just be sure to consume the juice within 15 minutes of making.
When juicing at home use more veggies and add True Citrus.
The taste of vegetable juice is often more palatable when balanced with citrus. If you're trying to increase your vegetable intake without adding high amounts of sugar, mix a packet of True Lemon in with your juice to make the flavor more appealing.
When done the right way juice can be a wonderfully beneficial addition to a healthy and well-rounded diet.