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Concentrated juice is widely available, and there’s a good chance that you’ve enjoyed a variety of concentrated juices since childhood. With a long shelf life, concentrated juice is convenient and easy to store. This type of juice is also cheap to buy, which adds to its appeal.
But have you ever wondered what concentrated juice actually is? How healthy is concentrated juice? What are the better alternatives? I’ll be answering all these questions and more in this guide.
🧃 What is Juice Concentrate?
When most of the water has been removed from fruit juice, the thick, syrupy liquid remaining is known as juice from concentrate.
Extracting water from juice has some advantages. It cuts costs involved in storage, packaging and transportation, as it reduces the potential for bacterial growth.
There isn’t one set formula for juice concentrate, and some juice concentrates contain a higher amount of vitamins and minerals than others. However, it’s a given that juice concentrate is heavily processed compared to other types of juice, like raw juice.
Typically, juice from concentrate is sold at room temperature and is intended to be diluted with water before drinking. You can also buy frozen fruit juice from concentrate.
❔ How is Juice Concentrate Made?
Juice concentrate is made by washing and blending fresh fruits into a juicy pulp. This juice is then heated to a high temperature until the water evaporates. This is usually done using steam. Following this, pressure is applied to remove the water, and the remaining juice extract is flash-cooled and pasteurized. Depending on how concentrated the juice is, the manufacturer might add water to the juice before packaging it to sell.
The problem with this process is that heat causes vitamins and minerals to oxidize, which is why juice from concentrate typically contains very few vitamins, minerals, fiber, or phytonutrients – unless these are added in after the heating process.
Fruit juice from concentrate also lacks flavor, and it’s common for manufacturers to add sugar additives and preservatives to their juices from concentrate to improve their taste and lengthen their shelf life. Artificial colors and smells may also be added, and sodium may be added to vegetable concentrates.
Unless it says so on the bottle, the average juice from concentrate doesn’t contain 100% fruit juice. High fructose corn syrup is a sugar additive that is commonly added to fruit juices from concentrate. This syrup can increase your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes if consumed in large amounts.
🍍 Types of Juice Concentrate
There are three most common types of concentrates available today: concentrated fruit cocktails, 100% juice concentrates, and powdered juice concentrates.
Concentrated Fruit Cocktails
A fruit cocktail or punch made from juice from concentrate is typically a blend of several juices.
Because there is a lack of whole fruit, these products will usually contain added sweeteners or flavors to give the juice a better taste.
You can read the label of the product to find out how healthy it is. Fructose syrup, cane sugar and HFCS should be avoided. If one of these is the first ingredient on the label, you’re better choosing a different product.
100% Juice Concentrates
100% juice concentrates are the healthiest option available, as these products are only made from fruits, and aren’t sweetened by artificial flavors or sugars. However, 100% juice from concentrate may still contain additives.
Again, check the ingredients list to find out exactly what this product contains.
Powdered Juice Concentrates
When juice concentrates are dehydrated by freeze- or spray-drying, they form powders that can be mixed with water to provide flavor.
This type of juice from concentrate may have some health effects, but most powdered products will still contain added sugar.
👩⚕️ Is Juice from Concentrate Bad for You?
In general, juices from concentrate are less healthy than other types of juice, like raw fruit juice. Some juices from concentrate are worse for you than others.
Check the label of a concentrated juice before you buy to determine its nutritional value. A concentrated juice with no added sugars isn’t as bad for you as juice with added sugars. Products made from 100% fruit juice are slightly better for you than those made with other sugars and preservatives.
Either way, the disadvantage of all concentrated juices is that they don’t contain the fiber that a raw, pulpy fruit juice would contain. Fiber comes from the pulp of fruits, and most juice from concentrate is strained during processing.
Additionally, healthy vitamins, like vitamin C, are lost during the heating process. Vitamin C is found in a variety of fresh juices, including orange juice. This vitamin is virtually non-existent in juice from concentrate.
In all, juice from concentrate contains few vitamins minerals and lacks flavor. What it’s missing in healthy nutrients, this juice makes up for in added sugar and preservatives that extend its shelf life.
While there are “better” juice options that contain no added sugar or preservatives, these juices still don’t have any nutritional value.
You’ll get far more flavor and nutrients from making your own raw juice. At-home juicers are a good option if you enjoy the sweetness of fresh juice and you’re looking for a healthier alternative to the products that line our supermarket shelves.
💓 Are There Any Health Benefits from Concentrated Juice?
Before you rule out juice concentrate entirely, you should be aware of its potential health benefits.
Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Although concentrated fruit and vegetable juices contain fewer vitamins and minerals than raw juices, they still do provide a number of nutrients that are beneficial to your health. You’ll get more vitamin C from fresh orange juice, but concentrated orange juice isn’t a bad alternative.
Contains Healthy Plant Compounds
The fruits and vegetables in concentrated juice supply a source of healthy plant compounds, like flavonoids and carotenoids. Again, you’d get a higher concentration of these compounds in a fresh juice, but you’ll still get a good amount of compounds from concentrated juices.
May Improve Skin Health
Because juice concentrates contain small amounts of antioxidants and vitamin C, they may help to keep your skin healthy and reduce skin aging.
However, it’s worth remembering that concentrated juices also contain sugars and additives that could hinder skin health, so it’s not worth adding concentrated juice to your beauty routine.
The biggest benefit of concentrated juice isn’t health-related – it’s that this juice is an affordable alternative to pure juice. However, you can make your own healthy juices at home for far less than the cost of store-bought juices. If you’re a juice enthusiast, I recommend looking into buying a juicer and cutting your long-term costs in half.