When shopping, you are always reminded to read the labels but honestly speaking, there is rarely enough time to read everything. Some labels are also confusing and soft drinks companies do that intentionally to maximize sales. When you buy fruit juice from the store, you will notice that most of the drinks are labelled as a “fruit drink” or “juice drink”, while others will be labelled as fruit juices.
There are actually fewer fruit juices than juice drinks in every store but you may hardly notice if you don’t check the ingredients. The problem is that many people don’t understand the difference between these two types of drinks and the health implications. So, should you drink fruit juice, fruit drinks or just munch on the actual fruit? Well, you are about to find out.
Not All Drinks with Pictures Of Fruits Have The Corresponding Fruits Juice
A 2020 research discovered that more than 45% of drinks with fruits on their labels didn’t have any juice of the fruits in their ingredients and some had less than 2% and top-selling children’s drinks were not spared. Regulations for the content of actual fruit juice in fruit drinks vary from country to country but most of them require a minimum of 5% actual fruit juice to be contained in the drink. In the real sense. Most manufacturers use imagery on the packaging that confuses most shoppers into thinking they are buying a drink made entirely of fruit juice.
The authorities allow companies to brand fruit drinks with imagery of fruits the drinks are flavoured with and not necessarily those whose juice is contained in the ingredients. As a result, the companies just buy concentrated flavours and mix them up with artificial sweeteners then add very little fruit juice. When buying fruit juice, it is important to check whether it is labelled fruit juice and as usual, the devil is always in the details.
Most Fruit Drinks Are Not Healthy
Fruit Drinks may be fortified with vitamins and also claim to contain the nutritional benefits of the little fruit juice added to it but they are not the most nutritious of drinks. Most of them contain too much sugar and offer very little in the form of nutrition apart from calories. Therefore, as compared to actual fruit juice, fruit drinks are the least healthy of the three foods on this list and the excessive sugar and artificial sweeteners are only comparable to soda. It is, therefore, safer to buy fresh juice made from fruit pulp if it is available in the store or buy the fruits and go blend your own juice at home.
There Are More Fruit Drinks Than Fruit Juices in The Market
When you buy juice, you need to check the labels where you may find the words “reconstituted/made from concentrate.” This means that the requirement for the drink is to have 4 to 10% fruit juice and the rest is just sugar and flavours. It is hard for many companies to squeeze, preserve and transport fresh fruit juice which is why many resort to using concentrates or going all artificial and not using any fruits at all. The law still allows companies to use imagery of fruits on the packaging if the drink contains a flavour of the fruit. There are therefore more drinks that are not fruit juice but which have imagery of fruits on them.
Diluted Fruit Juice Is Healthier Than Juice Drinks
Fruit juice refers to a drink that has been made from the pulp of fruit although some of them may contain added sugar and preservatives as well as flavours. For a drink to be allowed the label a fruit juice, its primary building blocks have to be actual fruit juice even if it is diluted. Fruit juice, therefore, contains most of the nutrients you will find in the fruit itself because the actual pulp is used to make it. Fruit juice is more costly to make, preserve and transport for most companies though (even the biggest ones) so you may find them to be more expensive than juice drinks unless the juice is squeezed right there at the store or restaurant.
High Price Tags On Juice Drinks Doesn’t Mean They Are Healthier
Fruit juice is by all standards healthier than fruit drinks and if the cost was a factor, they should be more expensive. Transporting and processing actual fruits into juice before packaging and transporting is way more expensive than diluting a concentrate. Sadly, branding has made many fruit drinks popular and you may find them to be more expensive than the actual fruit juice of the purported flavour of the drink. You may therefore find an expensive fruit drink whose price tag only points to the brand and not the contents.
Juice Drinks Are Sweeter Than Actual Fruit Juice
Fruit juices are not always the tastiest especially for children because they don’t contain as many sweeteners and sugar as juice drinks. In terms of nutrition, fruit juices have nearly the same vitamins, calories and minerals as the actual fruits. You may argue that the value may be lost during processing, but they are a healthier choice of food compared to juice drinks and carbonated drinks. The best fruit juice is the one you blend at home which you regulate yourself and don’t add any preservatives.
Most Packaged Fruit Juices Have Preservatives and Artificial Flavors
Fruits may be seasonal and sometimes their taste may change with different seasons. When companies juice fruits, customers expect them to have the same colour and taste every time but fruits are not always like that which is why companies use artificial flavours and sometimes concentrated fruit extract to maintain colour and taste. They may say that no artificial flavours and preservatives are used but that is just marketing.
Blending Is Healthier Than Juicing
Homemade fruit juice is healthier than any packaged version you may find at the stores so it doesn’t really matter whether you blend or juice it. While fruits contain vitamins and minerals that make them so healthy to eat, the fibre in the flesh and skin of fruits also have lots of benefits. When you juice, most of the fibre doesn’t make it into your drink.
Fruit Juice May Also Contain Added Sugar
Taste and flavour are a major issue for companies if their juice is to sell well which is why they add sugar to make it sweeter. Most countries limit the percentage of added sugar that companies can add to fruit juice which may be up to 4% which is still a lot. You should also remember that natural fruits also have their natural sugar.
Fruits Are Healthier Than Both Fruit Juices And Juice Drinks
Every health professional and agency in the world will tell you that you need to eat fruits every day; the only disagreement is on how many servings you should have. The USDA recommends that you take at least two servings per day while AHA recommends four to five servings per day. Whichever advice you choose to follow, just make sure you have fruits in your daily diet. Fruits have lots of health benefits you can’t substitute with any other food source and they are also cheaper than both juice drinks and fruit juices.
It is hard to avoid the corruption of the soft drinks industry as most of the shelves are loaded with unhealthy drinks which pack too much sugar and harsh preservatives. It is almost impossible to avoid buying something unhealthy from the stores but you can at least try to read the ingredients and take control of what you and your family consume.
When you find a drink labelled as a fruit drink or juice drink, it is good to know that that drink contains little to no fruit juice, the rest are just concentrated flavours and sugar. Fruit juices contain juice from fruit pulp and they are healthier even if they have preservatives and added sugar and flavour. The most healthy food to give you the nutrition of the fruit is the actual fruit itself. If you are craving some fruit juice, you can blend the fruits into juice at home and soothe your thirst.
Will this article change your fruit drinking habits? If it will maybe let us know how in the comments below.