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How to choose fruit juice

Juice can be a nice occasional drink for a change. Nutritionist Brigid Chunn investigates the options.

What’s available?

Fruit or vegetable juice

A product calling itself fruit or vegetable juice must be 100 per cent juice. But it may be a mix from different juices or it can be reconstituted. Some of the water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C may be lost in the concentration process, so when concentrates are used these vitamins are often added back in. Fruit juice may contain up to four per cent added sugar. Many don’t but check the ingredients list.

Fruit juice concentrate

Fruit juice concentrate is just the same as reconstituted juice — you just add water.

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Fruit drink

This must contain at least 5 per cent juice but many contain a lot more. For example, Ocean Spray Light Cranberry contains 18 per cent fruit juice from concentrate.

Fruit-flavoured drinks

Fruit-flavoured drinks are just that, fruit-flavoured sweetened water, so these drinks don’t offer the nutrients that juice does.

Don’t be fooled by the packaging and pictures of fruit on the labels.

Sugar

Juices can be high in sugar. Almost all of the energy (kJ) in juice comes from natural sugars in the fruit or juice. However, juice is allowed to contain up to four per cent added sugar and the only way to tell this is by reading the ingredients list.

In fruit drinks the energy is mainly from the added sugars although some, like Ocean Spray Refreshers Light Cranberry and T’best Aloe Original drink with 50 per cent less sugar, contain artificial sweeteners.

Energy

It is important to realise how many kilojoules we are adding when drinking juice whether from added or natural sugars. One 250ml glass of Arano Orange juice contains 526kJ whereas a whole orange contains 216kJ and is more filling. So we recommend choosing whole fruit over juice and when you do have juices, have a smaller serve of 125ml.

Nutrients

Fruit juice contains a range of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and health-promoting phytonutrients. Juice can be a great source of vitamin C. For good health, women are advised to get 190mg daily and men 220mg. A small glass of juice (125ml) can provide about one-quarter of that.

Some vegetables, such as carrots, are a good source of vitamin A which is important for boosting our immune system, hence some vegetable juices can be a good source, too.

Some juices can also be a good source of potassium which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure. Coconut water is popular at the moment and is a good source of potassium. King Island 100% pure coconut water, for example, contains 365mg/125ml, about eight per cent of the suggested daily target.

Some products, such as the short shelf-life freshly squeezed juice that you find in the chiller section, don’t state the vitamin C content. This is because vitamin C is not added but we do expect these juices contain vitamin C.

 

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