Juice concentrates are a handy convenience we’ve created for ourselves. But should you count on it to get to your five a day? Besides the chance of nutrients lost in processing, you may also wind up having artificial flavors and sweeteners, or more sugar than you need through these concentrates. On the other hand, you will also get in a good amount of antioxidants that are great for health. Confused? Don’t be. The answer seems to lie in what kind of concentrate you’re having and what’s on the label.
What Is Concentrate?
Concentrates are reduced concentrated forms of juices which are diluted with water or soda to make a drink. They may or may not have added preservatives, additives, or artificial flavorings or colors. To make it up into juice you simply add the requisite amount of water and drink as you would a normal fruit juice.
Even Better Than The Real Thing?
If your juice concentrate contains all the nutrients you need, in nearly the same quantities as a whole fruit, then the convenience of the drink may be worth it. Since
Research has found that concentrates might actually be able to give you the antioxidant power-up you want. These antioxidants are important to lower your risk of metabolic disorders, heart disease, and even cancer. In one study, middle-aged men and women who were healthy were found to be falling short of their “daily five”. However, after supplementation with vegetable and mixed fruit concentrates, researchers noted that the plasma levels of folate, selenium, Vitamin C, β-carotene, and Vitamin E, went up. This led them to suggest that these concentrates could be useful in making up the shortfall.1
Rich In Phenolics
Another piece of research on commercial red fruit juice concentrates found that those of elderberry, blackcurrant, and chokeberry were very rich in phenolics and had the strongest antioxidant capacity of all fruit concentrates tested. Researchers suggest that they have the potential to be applied as functional juices, foods that have health benefits beyond their role as a food.2
However – and this is a big caveat here – this depends on just how much processing has been done and what additives have gone into that particular concentrate. It is also important to realize that a juice concentrate is like one of the snacks you have in a day, and cannot be seen as a substitute for all your fresh fruit
Lost Fiber, Lost Nutrients
Depending on how it has been made, a concentrate could contain nearly all the nutrients of the fruit it has been made from, or very little. The thumb rule is the more processed a food is, the more nutrients it loses. The closer it is to the source fruit or vegetable, the better it is. So in the hierarchy of things, a fruit would be best, followed by juice you squeeze freshly at home or those made at a fresh juice bar with the pulp left in, next would be strained juices where the fiber is out. These would be followed by processed juices or concentrates that are canned or packaged for longer shelf life. If, however, the concentrate is simply reduced juice where the water has been allowed to evaporate, then the only major loss is by way of fiber.
A cup of sliced apple with the skin left on contains about 3
[expert_opinion expertname=’andreacaprio’ opinion=”Juices made from concentrates are void of any important nutrients and fiber thus making them as unhealthy as pure sugar. Many fruit concentrates contain added sugar or other harmful additives, colorants, flavoring or preservatives that may harm your health.”]
Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Watch out for the added sugars
A cup of apple juice made from frozen concentrate with no added sugar, diluted with thrice the amount of water, has about
Remember for every additional spoonful of sugar, you’re adding calories too. What you want is something that is “100 percent juice.” Have that cup of apple juice from
Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome
If that wasn’t bad enough, some ingredients like high fructose corn syrup are also very high calories and avoidable if you’re watching your weight or fitness. The consumption of a lot of fructose has a role to play in metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, in addition to raising the risk of cardiovascular disease.13
Problems For Diabetics?
If you’re diabetic, you may be better off having whole fruit rather than trying to drink it as a juice, fresh or otherwise. According to the American Diabetes Association, if you have diabetes you need to aim at getting in at least as much fiber as is recommended for the average healthy adult. That’s 38 gm for men and 25 gm for women every day.14And since whole fruit is likely to have more fiber, that’s a better way to use your allocated sugar intake for the day.
Artificial Colors, Flavors, Sweeteners
Juices or concentrates mass produced in factories for longer shelf life may well have some “extras” added in by way of preservatives or flavorings to restore some of the goodness or taste lost in processing. Artificial sweeteners may also be used to produce “sugar-free” versions. To avoid intake of chemicals and keep your diet completely natural, avoid concentrates with these extras.
[expert_opinion expertname=’jenniferkanaan’ opinion=”Juice from concentrate could be as bad as drinking sugar. It might be convenient, but it will not provide your body with the nutrients that are available in fresh juice. The opposite is also true. Juice concentrate contains additives to boost the flavor and preservatives to make it last longer. These are all things you don’t want to consume because of the negative effects on your body.”]
The Right Way To Use Concentrate In Your Diet
Don’t count on concentrate alone to meet your daily requirement of “five fresh vegetables or fruits” that the health authorities recommend. Instead, view it as a quick fix on days when you can’t find time to cut a fresh fruit and eat it, fiber and all. Or as that mid-morning pick-me-up, you need when your energy is ebbing and time is at a premium.
More important, however, is to know what you’re drinking. Look for brands that say 100% juice and have no added preservatives or artificial flavorings or colors. Always cross-check by reading the labels anyway. Watch out for words like “high fructose corn syrup” or names that seem like names of artificial chemicals. That way you can be sure you’re not getting more than you asked for!
As for nutrients, the simplest way to know if you can count your favorite brand of juice concentrate as one of the portions of fresh produce is to check the labeling for levels of various nutrients that are recommended for daily intake. Do the math to see how far it will get you on the daily recommended intake for each of the nutrients you want.
|↑1||Kiefer, Ingrid, Peter Prock, Catherine Lawrence, John Wise, Wilfried Bieger, Peter Bayer, Theres Rathmanner, Michael Kunze, and
|↑2||Bermúdez-Soto, María J., and Francisco A. Tomás-Barberán. “Evaluation of commercial red fruit juice concentrates as ingredients for antioxidant functional juices.” European Food Research and Technology 219, no. 2 (2004): 133-141.|
|↑3, ↑9, ↑12||Apples, raw, with skin. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|↑4, ↑8, ↑11||Apple juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, diluted with 3 volume water without added ascorbic acid. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|↑5||Orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, diluted with 3 volume water, with added calcium. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|↑6||Oranges, raw, all commercial varieties. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|↑7||Yang, Quanhe, Zefeng Zhang, Edward W. Gregg, W. Dana Flanders, Robert Merritt, and Frank B. Hu. “Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults.” JAMA internal medicine 174, no. 4 (2014): 516-524.|
|↑10||Crowe, Kristi Michele, and Elizabeth Murray. “Deconstructing a fruit serving: comparing the antioxidant density of select whole fruit and 100% fruit juices.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 113, no. 10 (2013): 1354-1358.|
|↑13||Stanhope, Kimber L., Jean-Marc Schwarz, and Peter J. Havel. “Adverse metabolic effects of dietary fructose: results from recent epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies.” Current opinion in lipidology 24, no. 3 (2013): 198.|
|↑14||About Our Meal Plans. American Diabetes Association.|