There's nothing like a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or an organic homemade smoothie to kick start your day, unfortunately, most of us don't have the time to spend peeling, juicing, squeezing and zapping fresh fruit. We all seem to be pushed for time, either rushing to get to work, rushing to get the kids to school or just rushing through the day.
That's where store bought juice comes in handy, ready prepared, in a handy carton that can just be taken out of the fridge and poured into a glass, fresh healthy, nutritious juice. It's what mornings were made for.
What Do We Actually Know About Store Bought Juice?
The rise of the supermarket has brought with it an unlimited choice of juices, all of which claim to be healthy. These claims that the manufacturers make aren't always what they seem and not every carton of juice is as good as you may think. Labels can be deceiving, which makes it hard to detect the pros and cons of the health claims they make when there are artificial colors, sweeteners and flavorings hidden in the drinks. Some store bought juices are stripped of their nutrients through mass production, while some juices have their natural fructose and fiber removed through pasteurization, so that innocent looking carton of ready to drink juice isn't as healthy as you are led to believe.
Juices come in all tastes and colors, If you read the label it may say it's 100% juice, or freshly squeezed, some juices are made from concentrate, while other juices are 'not from concentrate', but what is the difference and which juice is the best? Almost all store bought juices have long lists of ingredients that may be linked to serious health problems, obesity, being the most prominent one, which is caused by the amounts of sugar these juices contain. But other health problems such as infertility, cancer, heart attacks and strokes, can also be traced back to store bought juices.
Some juices will give a list of added ingredients but they don't have to go into detail, in fact, studies have shown that quite a number of store bought juices don't actually contain the same amount as printed on the label, so while the manufacturers would like us to think that their juice is healthy and good for us, there are hidden dangers in store bought juice that may make it a poor alternative to juicing at home.
So What is in Store-Bought Juice?
With so many juices on the market, all claiming to be healthy, natural, freshly squeezed and 'good for you', how do we know which juice is safe to drink? Below is a list of the different methods of juice production and the added ingredients which manufacturers are allowed to use. Once you know what is in that carton of store bought juice in your fridge, it will never taste the same again and taking just a little extra time in the mornings to prepare your own fresh organic juice may seem an easy and better alternative.
1. 100% Juice
Juice that claims to be 100% juice can contain additional flavorings, additives and preservatives, some juices also have sodium (salt), flavorings, citric acid and vitamin C added to them to give the juice a longer shelf life. Food manufacturers may be allowed to add these extra ingredients to their '100%' juices, but some of them are known to cause health problems, especially if they are made from petroleum, which is often contaminated with carcinogenic compounds. Manufacturers also add MSG, which is known for increasing food cravings and addiction, but they don't have to state on the label that is an added ingredient.
2. Juice From Concentrate
Some juices are described as 'Juice from Concentrate', this just means that fruits and vegetables are heated down to form a syrup and then reconstituted by adding water back in. The process of concentrating juice involves adding and removing natural plant by-products and chemicals to condense the juice, however, the fruits and vegetables lose their flavor during this process so flavoring has to be re-added to make the juice taste fresh. Making juice from concentrate not only saves the juice companies money, but it also allows them to preserve their juices and give then a longer shelf life, unfortunately, this process results in an inferior juice.
3. Not From Concentrate
Not from concentrate juice may seem to be a more authentic product but you would be wrong to think so. Manufacturers make the juice by squeezing, pasteurizing and filtering the fruit and then storing it in giant tanks where the oxygen is removed, this allows the juice to be kept for up to a year. However, this process strips the juice of its natural flavor so it has to be added back in, in the form of a ‘flavor pack' before it is packaged and shipped for sale. Because the flavor packs are made up of the oil and essence of the fruits, companies are not legally bound to show them on the label so therefore the are allowed to claim that their juices are 100%.
Traditional or flash pasteurization is used by most juice companies to destroy harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. It involves heating the juice (for the second time if the juice is concentrated). Unfortunately, this process also kills the raw natural ingredients as well as the bacteria, viruses and molds, making the juice almost worthless as a healthy drink.
Citric acid is a key ingredient in store bought juices, it's added to extend the shelf life, but it doesn't come from oranges, lemons and limes as you might think, The citric acid used by juice manufacturers is created by synthetically fermenting the glucose from genetically engineered sugar beets and corn, (GMO's) There are some juice companies who also add high fructose corn syrup from GMO corn, and sugar from GMO sugar beets. It is a well-known fact that GMO’s are linked to the rise in auto-immune disorders and allergies.
6. Synthetic Ingredients
Manufacturers are very clever at hiding synthetic ingredients in their juices some of which are listed below, so it is important to check out the label on the cartons rather than taking notice of the marketing hype.
- Fibersol-2: a proprietary synthetic digestion-resistant fiber, developed by a Japanese chemical company.
- Fructooligosaccharides: a synthetic fiber and sweetener.
- Inulin: an artificial and invisible fiber, added to foodstuffs to artificially increase the fiber content.
These are all man made ingredients that are created in the laboratory and added to juices to make them appear 100% natural, many juice brands also use petroleum based dyes to color the juices so check the labels for these harmful ingredients too.
Store Bought Juice V. Homemade Juice
Store bought juices don’t require any preparation, they are convenient, easy to store and available to drink in an instant. The downside is that you have no idea exactly what you are drinking, with so many harmful chemicals added to them, you could be doing some serious harm to your health for the sake of taking the easy option of opening a carton.
On the other hand, juicing at home can be time consuming and sometimes messy but homemade juices are far superior in taste and nutrition, as well as being safe to drink, store-bought juices cannot compare to them on any level. Having said that, it is vital that when juicing at home, you choose organic fruit to make your juices, otherwise you will be consuming chemicals and pesticides which can do just as much harm to your health as store bought juices.