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When you think of drinking juice, your first thought is probably that you’re doing something healthy for your body, and while that may often be the case, it certainly isn’t 100% of the time. There are several reasons why drinking certain juices every day may not be the best thing for your body. These reasons include a surprising amount of added sugars, excess calories, and a lack of fiber (via Eat This, Not That!). While some juices may be more obviously harmful to your health, there are others that challenge even the most prudent health nuts.
For example, for those who thought an apple (juice) a day may be helping them, experts suggest differently. Barbie Boules, RDN, founder of Barbie Boules Longevity Nutrition, Inc. spoke to Eat This, Not That! and explained, "When you eat an apple, you’re eating one apple, but when you drink 12 ounces of apple juice, you’re drinking the sugar of about four to six apples. Even though it’s naturally occurring, that’s way too much sugar." On the other hand, there are juices on the market that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and can truly be beneficial for your health. To get the lowdown on which is which, continue reading.
Best: Just Tart Cherry
This tart cherry juice from RW Knudsen wins an award for being a healthy choice due to the fact that it contains two simple ingredients: tart cherry juice from concentrate, and water. An eight-ounce serving of juice provides a one-cup serving of fruit. The juice contains no added sugar, and is completely natural without any artificial flavors or preservatives. Tart cherries also go by the names of sour cherries, Montmorency cherries, or dwarf cherries, and have recently seen an increase in popularity, according to Healthline.
Tart cherries differ from sweet cherries in that instead of being eaten fresh, they are often consumed dried, frozen, or in juice form. An eight-ounce glass of tart cherry juice contains 62% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A and 40% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, as well as a small amount of omega-3’s. One unique benefit of drinking cherry juice is that it may help you sleep better due to the fact that it’s rich in melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep. Go with a brand with no added sugar, such as RW Knudsen’s, for the best results.
Worst: Ocean Spray Cran Cherry
Ocean Spray Cran Cherry doesn’t make the cut for being healthy for a couple reasons. For starters, when sugar is listed as the second ingredient in this drink just behind water, that should be your first sign that it isn’t taking home any prizes in the health department. With 22 grams of added sugar per serving, you will probably want to seriously limit your intake.
This particular beverage from Ocean Spray is a blend of cranberry juice mixed in with the juice of fresh-picked cherries, making it an appealing option for those who want a twist on a classic. However, if you read the label closely, you’ll notice the dubious term "natural flavor" in the ingredients list toward the bottom.
In case you’ve ever wondered what that means, Healthline explains that it actually could mean any number of things — and not all of them are good. In general, the FDA explains that natural flavorings are extracted from plant and animal materials, including spices, fruit, vegetables, bark, dairy products, meat, and eggs. Although the term natural may appeal to consumers, natural flavors are still often highly processed, and can still contain chemical additives. Some of those additives included in natural flavors include preservatives and solvents. Manufacturers are not required to list those specific ingredients, as they are filed under the category of "natural flavor," and can be listed as such.
Best: Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
Richly red in color and packed with flavor, pomegranate juice can be a delicious and extremely healthy drink. POM Wonderful makes their 100% pomegranate juice by "whole pressing" pomegranates and capturing "polyphenol antioxidants from the rind, pith and arils," according to their site. If you are concerned about added sugars, not to worry here: This drink has none.
Experts at Eat This, Not That! agree, that this particular brand has hit a home run, health wise. As New York-based registered dietitian Amy Gorin states: "POM Wonderful 100 percent pomegranate juice is made by pressing the entire pomegranate so that each 8-ounce bottle contains the juice from two whole-pressed pomegranates—and nothing else." She also explains that the drink contains a high amount of antioxidants, at approximately 700 mg per serving. Gorin says that antioxidants do their job to fight free radicals, which can cause harm to the cells in our bodies.
According to Medical News Today, the juice is also a significant source of vitamins E, K, as well as magnesium. Furthermore, it has shown promise in the area of helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and in treating inflammatory bowel disease as well as osteoarthritis.
Worst: Ocean-Spray Cranberry Pomegranate
Ocean Spray makes it onto the list again with another cranberry juice hybrid. This time, the brand is marketing the juice as a combination of both cranberry and pomegranate juice, but if you squint just hard enough, you’ll notice the word "flavor" in small letters after "Cranberry Pomegranate."
So what does that mean, exactly? Well, let’s take a trip to the ingredients list to find out. The first ingredient listed on the label is apple juice, followed by grape juice, plum juice, pear juice, and finally the elusive cranberry and pomegranate — followed by "natural flavor," of course. The drink boasts 32 grams of sugar, 26 of which are added.
Livestrong explains that the cocktail of fruit juices featured in Ocean Spray drinks is probably not the best choice if you’re trying to shed pounds. When speaking on their classic "100% Juice Cranberry" option, the site says that these added fruits are there to offset the acidity of the cranberry juice, and while one serving may not provide a huge number of calories overall, they can add up quickly if you’re not paying attention. If you want to enjoy it, do so in moderation by diluting it with sparkling water for a refreshing, bubbly drink.
Best: Lakewood Organic Orange Juice
Having a fresh glass of orange juice with breakfast is a non-negotiable for many people. There’s something about the bright citrus-y punch of oranges that just goes perfect with almost any breakfast food you can think of. On top of it being plain delicious, there are a lot of benefits to including it in your breakfast routine. Healthline shares that orange juice is rich in key nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium, as well as folate and magnesium.
The nutritionists at Eat This, Not That! agree, and say that one brand in particular passes their scrupulous health test. Lisa Moskovitz, RD, a medical expert board member at the site, says that Lakewood Organic Orange Juice should be your first choice when shopping. "With no added sweeteners or preservatives, Lakewood juice is fresh-pressed, organic and not from concentrate. The bonus is that it comes in an environmentally-friendly glass bottle." If you can’t find Lakewood, she stresses the importance of being sure to find a brand that has no added sugars and that is not from concentrate. She also says buying organic is a better option because the "taste and quality" are improved due to a lack of pesticides.
Worst: Langer’s Island Blend, Pineapple, Orange, Coconut
Having a fresh glass of juice in the morning can be a smart choice, but when that juice is loaded with sugar and other additives, you may want to take a pass. Langer’s Island Blend, Pineapple, Orange, and Coconut Juice Cocktail features a sweet mixture of the aforementioned fruit juices from concentrate, as well as added sugar, "natural flavor," and coloring. The worst part? The beverage only contains 10% juice, meaning it’s mostly a mixture of sugar, water, and other additives. One of the primary purposes of juice is to provide nutrients, and if you’re drinking a beverage that contains only 10% of it, it’ll be a lot harder to meet your daily recommended values.
Plus, the added sugar in the drink isn’t doing you any favors, either. According to Harvard Health, while consuming whole foods that contain natural sugars is generally seen as okay, added sugars, which are typically added to drinks, candies, and processed foods, are another story. Studies show that added sugars have been linked to heart disease, chronic inflammation, diabetes, and obesity. It’s probably best to stay away from this drink and go for a classic glass of OJ instead.
Best: Campbell’s Original V8
V8 is a relatively popular drink that offers a number of health benefits. While this beverage does have its limitations, it also provides key nutrients that many may struggle to get throughout the day otherwise. The drink is a blend of the juice of tomatoes, carrots, celery, parsley, lettuce, watercress, and spinach. Those juices are mixed with water, and contain added salt, vitamin C, "natural flavoring," beta carotene, and citric acid. The good news is that a serving of V8 provides two servings of vegetables at a low 45 calories, making it an easy way to get your vegetables for the day without overdoing it calorie-wise.
For those looking for a boost of vitamin C, V8 provides 80% of the daily recommended value, as well as 20% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A and 10% of the daily recommended value of potassium. If you’re watching your sugar intake, V8 may be a good choice as well, as it does not contain any added sugars and only contains 7 grams of it per serving. Bear in mind that while V8 does contain many nutrients, experts suggest not replacing the drink with eating fresh vegetables. Instead, you’d be better off using it to supplement your intake (via Healthline).
Worst: Clamato Juice
If you’re wanting to get your tomato juice fix and see a bottle of Clamato at the grocery store, it may be best to keep on strolling. Per Livestrong, while the tomato juice in Clamato is good for your health, not much else in it is. This beverage is a mix of tomato juice, clam juice, and spices. It was originally created by a group of Californian farmers, but has seen the most success both north and south of the border in Canada and Mexico. It is often mixed into cocktails, and is commonly used in Bloody Marys and a drink called the Michelada, a mixture of beer, spices, and other flavorings.
Despite its savoriness, the third ingredient listed on the beverage is high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to the production of fat in the body. The Cleveland Clinic states that when compared to regular sugar, high fructose corn syrup is generally "cheaper and sweeter," and is absorbed into the body more quickly. It can also trigger your appetite, which is not good for those watching their weight. Livestrong also mentions that Clamato contains the flavor enhancer MSG, which has been linked to adverse symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and chest pain.
Best: Bolthouse Farms 100% Organic Carrot Juice
There’s something wonderful about opening up a bottle of juice and knowing that you’re only consuming a single ingredient with no additives. With Bolthouse Farms 100% Organic Carrot Juice, that is absolutely the case. The ingredient list on this juice is relatively short, as it literally only contains one: organic carrot juice. This means the drink contains no preservatives, no artificial flavors or coloring, as well as no added sugar. Furthermore, one serving provides 180% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A.
Healthline explains that some of the benefits of vitamin A include helping to maintain healthy eyesight, boosting your immune system, and ensuring healthy fetal development. Studies have also shown that consuming vitamin A may help reduce the risk of developing cervical, lung, and bladder cancers. It can also help prevent acne, and supports your bone health.
Another Healthline article points out that carrot juice also contains significant amounts of potassium, which can help control your blood pressure. Thus, eating a diet rich in potassium has been shown to reduce the risk of both high blood pressure and stroke.
Worst: Naked Orange, Carrot, Mango
Judging by the name of this juice, you might assume that it’s good for you in all ways. While the Naked brand of juices focuses on juice that’s made from real fruit with no added sugar or artificial flavors, the damage here comes in other forms. Their Orange, Carrot, Mango juice branded as an immune support smoothie boasts 220 calories per serving with an overwhelming 49 grams of sugar per serving. To put that in perspective, that is more than twice the amount of sugar found in a Hershey’s chocolate bar.
Per Healthline, Naked juice shouldn’t be your first juice choice. There has actually been considerable controversy over whether or not they are actually good for you. The beverages contain a lot of sugar which, while naturally occuring in the fruit, still exceeds the amount of sugar recommended per day by a long shot. Furthermore, while the juice is indeed made from whole fruits, a lot of the fiber from the fruit is removed during the juicing process, making it less nutritious. While it can of course be healthy to drink juice, if you’ve gravitated toward Naked juice because it contains several fruits, drink less of this juice and eat more whole fruit instead.
Best: Lakewood Organic Blueberry Juice
While blueberry juice may not be as well known as cranberry, orange, or other types, it still offers a considerable amount of health benefits that make it worth checking out. Verywell Health states that blueberry juice is typically made from the juice of blueberries and may occasionally be supplemented with other juices including pomegranate, cherry, and apple. The amount of sugar included in the drink will largely depend on the brand. The good news is there are juices out there that are in fact 100% blueberry juice with a moderate amount of sugar. Lakewood Organic Pure Blueberry happens to be one of them. The juice provides 20 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving with no added sugar. Because this juice is not diluted with water, the site suggests mixing it with water, or another fruit juice to moderate its intense "full strength" flavor.
According to Verywell Health, when drinking blueberry juice, you may actually be consuming more vitamins and minerals than you would if you ate whole blueberries, as you are actually drinking more than just a single cup of fruit per serving. Some of the primary nutrients in the fruit juice are vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.
Worst: Naked Blue Machine
You may not be surprised to find another Naked juice on the list based on the previous revelations. According to the brand’s website, Naked juice’s Blue Machine drink contains a mixture of 27 blueberries, 3 ½ apples, 1 banana, and 3 blackberries. This is, no doubt, a lot of fruit. With all of that fruit, however, comes a load of calories sugar per serving. The juice offers 320 calories, to be exact, as well as a breathtaking 55 grams of sugar.
While you may think of this type of juice as a diet food, Healthline says to think again. Drinking your calories in the form of sugar is generally frowned upon by nutrition experts, and liquid calories are actually not as filling as whole food, which may lead to you wanting to eat more down the road. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association conducted a trial in which participants were given the same amount of calories in the form of apple juice, sauce, and a whole apple. Those who drank the juice said that they were hungry sooner than those who ate the sauce and the whole apple. While all juice will contain some calories, consuming 320 calories worth of juice on top of a meal may place you over your recommended daily value of calories.
Best: Ocean Spray Pure Cranberry
Ocean Spray has made it onto the "best" portion of the list with their Pure Unsweetened Cranberry juice, which is made from 100% cranberry juice and more than 850 total cranberries. This juice contains no added sugar, artificial ingredients, or preservatives, with only 60 calories and 9 grams of sugar per serving. Livestrong concurs that the healthiest cranberry juice on the market is one with no added sugar and no additives. Unsweetened cranberry juice offers a number of key vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Minerals in the juice include "calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, iron, zinc and phosphorus," and vitamins include vitamin C, vitamin A, B6, and B12.
Medical News Today adds that drinking cranberry juice may also be linked to improved heart health. Cranberries are known to be high in a chemical called polyphenols, which benefit the health of your heart. Studies have also shown that those who drink cranberry juice have lower "bad cholesterol," which is also linked to heart disease. Moreover, cranberry juice can be good for fighting infections caused by certain viruses and bacteria.
Worst: Simply Cranberry Juice Cocktail
The last juice on the list of offenders is Simply Beverage’s Cranberry Cocktail. The brand prides itself on making drinks based on simple ingredients (hence the name) that provide a natural taste. While that may be true, some of the side effects of drinking this particular beverage may not be so simple.
The juice only contains 27% cranberry juice, and it has 34 grams of sugar (29 of which are added) per serving. While we’ve already run through some of the dangers of added sugar, WebMD highlights a few more. For starters, because consuming sugar releases the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain, it can actually become an addictive cycle as the brain begins to crave that feeling. That means one glass could lead to another… and another, until the calories and sugar end up spiraling out of control.
Furthermore, eating a lot of added sugar can have a negative effect on your mood, causing your energy levels to rise and then crash, leading to anxious and jittery feelings. Studies have also shown that excess sugar consumption has been linked to depression. If you feel the need to indulge in Simply’s Cranberry Cocktail, your best bet is to pour yourself a small portion and top it off with sparkling water to help reduce calories and sugar.