Food/Nutrition Columnist
It Looks Like Juice, It Tastes Like Juice, But It Isn’t Juice
Jun 10, 2013 - 12:02:00 AM

( - We all eat too much sugar -- close to 23 teaspoons a day. Most of us weigh too much -- 67% of the population is overweight. Drinks loaded with in sugar are considered significant culprits with these health problems. The problem is that all sweet drinks are not the same. Many parents have stopped giving kids healthy choices, like orange juice, in an effort to cut down on sugar. 100% juice should stay in the shopping cart.

That is a simple, easy recommendation to make but it can be difficult to put into action when you are in the grocery store. Healthy, 100% juices can get lost in the jumble of varieties available. Food companies are required by law to list the percentage of juice on the label. Contains 10% juice - this one is likely loaded with added sugar. No fruit juice - obviously not the best choice. Or, 100% juice - the right choice - but don't expect it to jump off the shelf into your shopping cart.

Minute Maid orange juice is packaged with pictures of oranges on the labels, but it often sits next to Minute Maid Citrus Punch, also with inviting pictures of oranges on the label. The orange juice is 100% juice, the Citrus Punch has 5% juice. Campbell's V8 Fusion also has 100% juice, but V8 Splash, which looks very similar, has only 10% juice. And, then there is Sunny Delight, the poster child for creative labeling. It is orange. The label sports fresh cut oranges. There is a large 100% on the front label, followed by the words vitamin C. It actually has only 5% juice and 14 grams (3 ½ teaspoons) of sugar in an 8-ounce serving. My local supermarket had it on sale this week for $1 for a 64-ounce bottle. Compare that to $2.99 for a half-gallon of orange juice and it is easy to fall into this marketing snare.

Drinks that are 100% juice do contain sugar, but the sugar is naturally found in the fruits from which the juice was squeezed. In addition, 100% juice is rich in important nutrients that most Americans do not get enough of each day.

Less than 40% of Americans meet their fruit intake for the day. The US Dietary Guidelines suggests:

One serving equals a half cup and 100% juice can make up half of your daily recommendation for fruit. That means a good blend of fruit you chew and fruit you drink.

Because there has been controversy about kids and drinking too much juice the American Academy of Pediatrics has laid down guidelines for 100% juice intake each day. These amounts are considered as the upper limits on any given day.

You should know - for kids, drinking sugar sweetened drinks at home was the largest contributor of empty calories from sugar in their diet. (

When you grocery shop, read the labels on the fruit juices you are buying.

100% juice is nutrient dense and can fill in nutrient gaps, like vitamin C. 100% juice can help to meet your daily fruit recommendation. It tastes good and is less sweet than most presweetened fruit drinks which help to retrain our taste buds to more natural flavors. Keep 100% fruit juice in your shopping cart and leave the other choices at the store.

© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of the nutrition counter series for Pocket Books with sales of more than 8.5 million books.

Look for:

The Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd ed., 2013

The Calorie Counter, 6th Ed., 2013

The Complete Food Counter, 4th ed., 2012

The Diabetes Counter, 4th Ed., 2011

The Protein Counter, 3rd Ed., 2011

The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter, 3rd Ed., 2010

The Fat Counter, 7th ed., 2009

The Healthy Wholefoods Counter, 2008

The Cholesterol Counter, 7th Ed., 2008

Your Complete Food Counter App:

For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:


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