If you are trying to follow a healthy diet, then you have likely started reading food labels. You may have noticed that many ingredient lists contain tricky names. One of the trickiest ingredients is fruit juice concentrate. It sounds healthy, but is it?
In this blog post and video, I explain what fruit juice concentrate is and how it affects your health.
What is Fruit Juice Concentrate
Fruit juice concentrate is simply fruit juice without the water.
Removing the water is a helpful method for food manufacturers because it reduces the volume of the product.
Reducing the volume makes it is easier to transport and store. It also helps to stabilize the juice, so it can stay on the shelf longer. (1)
How is Fruit Juice Concentrate Processed?
However, extracting the water from fruit juice is typically done with heat.
This heat kills nutrients in the fruit juice, including vitamin C, which is the beneficial vitamin in orange juice.
I would also add that the water is gone, but the sugar content remains with none of the original fiber included.
Without the original fiber from the fruit to slow the absorption of that sugar, fruit juice concentrate is basically a concentrated source of sugar.
Fruit Juice Concentrate is Undercover Sugar
If you see fruit juice concentrate on the ingredient list of a packaged food, you should read it as sugar.
To be clear, we are not talking about insignificant amounts of sugar.
In fact, a glass of orange juice from concentrate contains almost as much sugar as a regular soda.
Eight ounces of the soda (ie. Pepsi) has 27 grams of sugar, and eight ounces of orange juice from concentrate has 23 grams of sugar.
Fruit Juice Concentrate is Mostly Fructose
The main source of sugar in fruit juice concentrate is fructose.
Fructose is a type of sugar that has to be metabolized by your liver.
It is not like glucose or regular sugar that can be metabolized and used by all of your cells for energy.
In a previous video, I’ve gone into how this liver metabolism of fructose is bad for your health and leads to fatty liver.
So, I don’t want to spend too much time on that in this post.
However, my research on fatty liver did lead me to look for an example to show how common fructose is in the grocery store.
Fructose is a Very Common Ingredient
Here is a great example of how common fructose is as an ingredient.
In a bottle of Sunny D, the first ingredient is water, the second is high fructose corn syrup, and it is followed by fruit juice concentrates.
There is nothing nutritious in Sunny D, it is simply sugar-water.
Unfortunately, this is marketed as a sensible drink for kids.
Fruit Juice Concentrate is in Many Foods
It is also worth noting that fruit juice concentrate is not only in fruit drinks.
it is also in many processed foods and energy drinks.
So you need to be cautious and closely read labels on snacks, energy bars, and energy drinks.
The bottom line is:
I recommend avoiding any food or drink with fruit juice concentrate listed as one of the top three ingredients, because it is nothing more than a hidden name for sugar.
Is Natural Fruit Juice Healthy?
I do want to end this post with a brief discussion of natural (or not from concentrate) juice.
Drinking a glass of natural fruit juice is not much better than fruit juice concentrate.
This is because even natural fruit juice is going to put a lot more fructose into your body than a piece of a whole, fibrous fruit.
With that said, I do use about a third of a cup of natural orange juice in a smoothie about three days a week.
I do this as a part of my enjoyable, maintenance diet.
How to Reach Your Weight Loss Goals
However, if you are not at the maintenance stage yet, and still want to lose weight, I recommend that you focus on consuming small amounts of real fruit and leave the fruit juice for after you have reached your goal.
Thank you for reading. I hope this post will help you reach your healthy goals!
- Adnan, Ahmad, et al. “Fruit Juice Concentrates.” Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, Elsevier, 24 Nov. 2017, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128022306000126.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.