Saturday, June 6, 2009

100% Juice vs. 100% Vitamin C

I used to be an avid nutrition label reader. You could find me viewing the sides of cereal boxes, breads, juice bottles -- you name it. When it came to juice, so long as it was cranberry and there was 100% vitamin C, I was good to go. It couldn't get any better than that, right? Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail, with a whopping 130% vitamin C, became a regular part of my diet ...

Until one day, out of sheer curiosity, I read the ingredients listing for the first time. 'Filtered water, high fructose corn syrup, cranberry juice from concentrate.' Wait, I thought this was juice! Not. I had been unknowingly drinking water and sugar this whole time. Here is the percentage breakdown of the former Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail ingredients:

3.7 % Ocean Spray® Cranberry Concentrate
16.69 % High fructose corn syrup, 42% fructose, 71 Brix*
79.57 % Water
0.04 % Ascorbic Acid

* Staley Isosweet 100

After this discovery, I began a healthy juice hunt. The more I read the ingredients of other brands, the more I realized "100% Vitamin C" only meant ... well, 100% vitamin C. That was it. Whether I was absorbing substances other than juice was uncertain without reading the ingredients listing. I eventually switched to more natural, expensive brands for pure juice with no added preservatives or sugar.

Fortunately, Ocean Spray is getting the picture and has removed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from their Cranberry Juice Cocktail and other beverages as well as added more "juice". However, they seem to have replaced HFCS with another added sweetener - cane or beet sugar. All in all, know what you are putting into your body. Reading the ingredients listing is just as important as reading the nutrition label. When shopping for juice, keep the following in mind:

*Look for labels that say "100% juice" and "no added sugar."
*Read the ingredients listing. Look for "juice" as the main ingredient.
*"Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)" in addition to juice is fine. Beware of sweetener additives, such as "corn syrup" and "sugar".
*100% juice does not necessarily mean less sugar. Read the nutrition label as well.
*Cranberry, pomegranate, prune, and blueberry juices are healthier options than apple and orange juices.
*Alternative: just purchase fresh fruits and make your own juice.
*For more information and tips, I encourage you to read:

The topic of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is controversial. Some studies indicate a link between consuming HFCS and obesity. On the other hand, a recent study (partially funded by the corn syrup industry, interestingly enough) shows no difference in weight gain from HFCS intake versus table sugar. Additionally, findings are emerging that suggest a link between HFCS and heart and kidney diseases. Levels of mercury have been detected in HFCS-containing foods as well. For more reads on these studies, check out:

Upcoming topics:
Raw Red Meat Is Better For You?
Kellogg's vs. Organic Whole Grain Cereal

1 comment:

Copa-canary said...

This is very true. I started noticing this a year ago while juice shopping. Gotta love the juice!! I would see 100% and put it in my cart without checking the side of the bottle to see the 10% Juice above the ingredient list. I think Ocean spray now has a line of 100% juice and if not, 365 brand does. I now limit my juice all together and go for water or Yogi detox tea (comes in different flavors like raspberry and peach). I tell ya, juice can be addictive. If I have a juice craving, I dilute it with one part water, one part juice so it isn't too concentrated and sugary.