Juices are often touted as the best way to get your daily vitamin needs, but are they necessary? What’s in commercial juice, and should I make my own? Should I have raw or pasteurized juice? What do all these labels on my juice mean? Well, here’s some important information on five ubiquitous terms on store bought juices to help answer your questions:
1. Flash Pasteurized
For higher-volume processing and energy efficiency, flash pasteurization or high-temperature short-time (HTST) pasteurization is commonly used. The process may give the juice a cooked flavor, as pasteurization heats substances to 134.6 to 154.4 degrees Fahrenheit (57 to 68 degrees Celsius) and then again to the goal temperature of 161.6 degrees Fahrenheit (72 degrees Celsius). After being heated, the juice gets cooled down twice: once to 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), and then again to 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). This process kills the bacteria found in the juice and gives the final product a longer shelf life.
The antithesis of the flash pasteurization label is the raw label. By definition, raw juice has not been heated, pasteurized, or processed in any form or fashion. Leaving a juice raw allegedly maintains the “beneficial enzymes” intact, making it more healthy or more beneficial to the body. If you have a slow masticating juicer that makes raw juice, Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. states, “make only as much juice as you can drink at one time because fresh squeezed juice can quickly develop harmful bacteria. And when juicing, try to keep some of the pulp. Not only does it have healthy fiber, but it can help fill you up.”
3. Cold Pressed
Juice that has been obtained via grinding or blending can expose the juice to oxygen and heat which may damage “nutrient-rich enzymes” found in the produce that’s being juiced. Cold pressed juice allegedly does not compromise these enzymes because it doesn’t utilize heat in extracting the juice from the produce. Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, Jill Latham, MS, RDN has created cold-pressed Vibrant Earth Juices for juice cleanses, and she says that the benefits are amazing: “The juices are designed to support the body’s daily functions by providing an abundance of water, carbohydrates, amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, while allowing the digestive system to rest and rejuvenate.”
4. From Concentrate
Essentially, the label or term “from concentrate” means that water was removed from the juice prior to packaging. The end product is seven times more concentrated than the initial juice, and the product is compressed and frozen to allow for efficient packaging and transport. “Concentrating simply removes some of the water so that there is less product to package and ship. When you add the water according to the package directions, the amount of sugar doesn’t change,” says Holly Larson, RD.
5. 100% Juice
As opposed to “cocktail” or “beverage” as ingredients, the label 100% juice means that there’s just juice, fruit, or vegetable, in the container. For instance, Mott’s 100% Apple Juice is just fruit juice that’s not been diluted with water, but “it can be pressed or squeezed from the fruit or made by mixing juice concentrate with water.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that pasteurized 100% fruit juice (not fruit drink) is an option for children over 6 months of age and for adults, as long as it is not drunk in excess.
These labels are commonly found on juices, but some are better than others. Try to avoid juices that have “from concentrate” plastered on them because any reconstituted product won’t taste as good as the original, and juices from concentrate are just that—concentrated sources of fructose, and normal juice is the same way. If you must have juice, make it a green juice, with a balance of vegetables and fruits. And don’t purchase expensive bottled juices; just make it yourself in a slow masticating juicer. If you make your juice at home, you won’t have to worry about what’s in it. Whatever type of juice you purchase or don’t purchase, keep these labels in mind.
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