What Do Those Juice Labels Really Mean?

orange and juice in glassIn a much more health conscious society where food allergies are prevalent, we are used to reading labels and seeing exactly what’s in our food, but how much do we actually understand of what we’re reading? This article from One Green Planet breaks it down and makes some sense of things we may otherwise assume.

Juices are touted as the best way to get your vitamins, but do you always know what you’re drinking? What’s in commercial juice? Should it be raw or pasteurized? What do the labels on my juice mean? Here’s some important information on five terms found 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.

2. Raw

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 keeps the “beneficial enzymes” intact, making it more healthy and 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 is just juice, fruit, or vegetable in the container. 100% juice is fruit juice that has not been diluted with water, but it can be pressed or squeezed from the fruit or made by mixing juice concentrate with water. Pasteurized 100% fruit juice (not fruit drink) is a healthy option for children over 6 months of age and for adults.

These labels are commonly found on juices, but some are better than others. Whatever type of juice you purchase or don’t purchase, keep these labels in mind.

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