Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fruit Juice vs. Juice from Concentrate?

Am I the only one who feels like all the juices in stores are advertised as "No Added Sugar" or "Contains 100% daily Vitamin C requirements"? And then when you look at the ingredients, there are actually like a million items, or it says something like "Orange Juice from concentrate"? If it truly is made from 100% fruit, then what does the 'from concentrate' mean? Find out below.

Food production is constantly getting cheaper and faster, and consumers are not completely aware of the processes used to produce the food we eat. First off, is fruit juice different from concentrate juice? Yes. Concentrate juice is made from fruit juice, but there are many more steps in the process after the juice is extracted.

How is fruit juice made? Exactly the way you make it at home, except with machines. The fruit is peeled and the juice is extracted (including the pulp, which may be blended in). Depending on if you want the fruit with pulp or no pulp, the pulp may be sieved out so that you get pure juice. It's pretty much that easy.

What are the additional steps required for concentrate juice? After the fruit juice is made, it goes through an intense heating process where most of the water is evaporated, leaving behind just concentrated juice (hence the word concentrate).

You might wonder why you should care since less water just means it is sweeter. However, the evaporation process not only removes water, but removes some vitamin C and a lot of other nutrients found in regular fruit juice as well. Additionally, with no water, it now becomes much more calorie-concentrated than regular fruit juice.

Companies, however, do not leave the concentrate that way. The concentrate is transported much easier that regular fruit juice because the quantity is less, and because it keeps for longer. So they may move it to another facility to add water and other additives, and then package the product. So you see the problem? The heat removes the nutrients, but adding water afterwards does not add the nutrients back in.

As they add the water, manufacturers can manage the concentration whatever way they want. And so mostly, to keep it sweet, they do not make it as dilute as regular fruit juice. Which now equals more calories, less nutrients, and possibly some additives to maintain the freshness.

Obviously, juice from concentrate is not equivalent to the devil, but I would stick to regular fruit juice where I can. But an even better option than fruit juice is just the whole fruit because the extraction and sieving actually may also remove some of the nutrients as well.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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