With so many varieties of juice available now it pays to know what you’re looking for.
It used to be that, to make fruit juice, you simply squeezed an orange. Now, you can choose from endless types including fruit juice, fruit drinks, juice blends and juices boosted with antioxidants or probiotics.
Is juice as good as fruit?
Juice is rich in the same nutrients as fruit with one exception: it lacks any fibre. Fibre fills you up, it acts like nature’s ‘brake’ to over-eating. A study from the 1980s found people who ate whole apples felt fuller sooner and ate fewer kilojoules than those who ate only apple puree or drank apple juice. Consider this: a 650ml bottle of apple juice has zero fibre and 1300kJ and can be downed in a few seconds, whereas a medium-sized apple has 3g fibre and only 300kJ, and takes several minutes to eat.
How much to drink?
The recommended serving of juice is only 125ml (½ cup), less than the amount we drink in a tall glass. Drinking more than this can add extra, unwanted kilojoules to your day.
What’s in my fruit juice?
Some fruit juices are identical to the juice you might freshly squeeze at home, while others are made with reconstituted juice (this must be stated on the label). There isn’t much difference nutritionally, some vitamin C may be lost during this process, but manufacturers add it back before it is bottled. If you’re after 100 per cent juice, it pays to check the fine print on the label. Some juices contain preservatives to prolong their shelf life, flavours (natural or artificial) and acidity regulators to give a consistency to the taste between batches. A juice ‘blend’ is simply a mix of different juices (eg. a breakfast juice).
So what’s a fruit drink?
These have just 5–25 per cent juice, with water as the main ingredient. Usually, they contain added sugar or sweeteners such as stevia (derived from a plant, so it allows brands to claim ‘all-natural’ ingredients) or sucralose, an artificial sweetener.
Are chilled juices better?
Juices sold on the shelf have been heated to make them shelf stable and have had vitamin C added to replace what was lost during the heating process. Fresh juices found in the fridge section are not usually heat-treated, and are less likely to contain preservatives (although check the label).
What about added vitamins and nutrients?
These can be beneficial for certain people, but shouldn’t replace a healthy diet. For example, juices with probiotics can be good for anyone who can’t have dairy (where probiotics are usually found). However, be wary of some of the other fancy additives, which tend to be in such small amounts they won’t give you much benefit.
Our dietitian’s picks
What to look for
Less than 250kJ per 100ml
No added sugar
At least 40mg vitamin C per 100ml
No preservatives (important especially if you have an intolerance)