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Is Your Juice Real or Fake?

posted by Performance Nutrition
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 12:13am EST

Translating Science into Real Life

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Berries, “super fruits”, and new packaging on juices are all the rage. In fact, you’ve probably picked up some berry concoction you can’t quite pronounce hoping its the secret to good health and the fountain of youth. Or, if you are a parent, surely you’ve given your kids apple juice while patting yourself on the back because after all, it’s apple juice, not soda or a Capri Sun. And, apples are packed with antioxidants and good nutrition so the juice must be the same right? Not so fast…..

Like a knockoff Michael Kors you picked up on K street in Georgetown, your juice may be fooling you. Just because it says 100% fruit juice or “made from real fruit,” this does not mean that the juice actually contains what it says it contains.  You see, one common issue with juices is the risk of economic adulteration – the dilution of your juice with less expensive juices, typically apple or grape juice, different berries (those bilberries may actually be blueberries) or *gasp* sugar water or its cousin high fructose corn syrup.

So, how do you tell the real thing from the fake stuff? If you are a food scientist with access to a very cool lab, you could measure the organic acid ratios in the product. If you are a consumer, you’re best bet is to find out something about the company. Have they spent some money on clinical trials to examine the unique components to their drink and any possible health benefits? Call and ask how it is processed (or read the website) and take a look at how it is packaged and sold (antioxidants can be lost during processing, especially if exposed to heat and light). And finally, you could ask a healthcare professional who follows this stuff, what their opinion is. As a dietitian who reads the research, calls the companies, and finds out a bit more about processing techniques, there are some products I recommend, some I tell consumers to stear clear of and others I just don’t know enough about (yet). And finally, you can read the label. The first several ingredients should say pulp, berries or something like that, not “apple juice or white grape juice” (unless of course those are the products you are picking up).

Two unique companies I’ve had the fortune of getting to know more about and recommend:  Cheribundi and Sambazon (neat story!).


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