Juice is something of an anomaly. It generally contains healthy ingredients, like fruits and veggies, yet as we’ve seen time and again, the processes that these fruits and veggies undergo to become juice takes them out of the “healthy” category and into, at best, “meh?”
For instance, during my analysis of the ingredients in cold-pressed juice, Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, told me that making a salad with healthy ingredients is much more nutritious than juicing them. “Juicing these ingredients — for the most part — significantly reduces their fiber content and satiating power,” she explained. “We also don’t process liquid calories in the same way we process chewable calories.” As a result, we tend to consume far more calories than we might otherwise.
Then, during my investigation of the ingredients in Tropicana Orange Juice, I discovered that their juice actually goes through a lengthy, unnatural process, which is a far cry from the orchard-to-bottle image their marketing team sells us.
So yeah, overall, juice is much less healthy than you might think. “Most fruit juices, especially those without pulp, are unfortunately sugary beverages,” Hunnes explains (in many cases, fruit juices contain just as much sugar as soda). “Yes, it’s a healthy sugar, because it comes naturally from the fruit, but still, some juices can have upwards of 150 calories per cup, which is similar to soda. I wouldn’t recommend drinking juice on a regular basis if you can eat the fruit instead, which is much healthier because it contains the fiber, pectin [which can lower cholesterol and might prevent cancer] and other nutrients that synergistically make the fruit better than the juice.”
But as with anything — even plain old vegetables — some juices are healthier than others, which is why I asked Hunnes to help me rank a bunch of them — from pretty freakin’ healthy to straight-up crap.
First, though, let’s go over some of those confusing terms and phrases that companies use to explain how their juices are made. Here’s my previous explanation for cold-pressed juice, which is one of the more popular forms of juice today (thanks to the popularization of juicing):
“To gather cold-pressed juice, a massive hydraulic press pushes fruits and vegetables through a fine mesh to squeeze nearly all of the juice out of the produce. This is, by all accounts, more nutritious than juice made by the more traditional centrifugal juicer (the kind you might have hidden away in your hard-to-reach kitchen cabinet). That’s because centrifugal juicers incorporate a fast-spinning metal blade that twists against a mesh filter, separating the juice from the flesh of the produce by means of centrifugal force. Because the fast-spinning metal blade generates heat — which apparently renders the nutrients within juice less nutritious — cold-pressing is the current health-nut flavor of the month.”
Hunnes generally agrees that cold-pressing is one of the healthier ways to make juice, although she also recommends something a little different. “While I would say, of the methods you list, this is probably the most likely to give you the most nutrients from the fruit itself, the one I would advocate more for would be to place a whole fruit into a blender and then just blend away until you get a pulpy, thick juice,” she says. “The more like the whole fruit you can get juice to be, the better it will be for you.”
Then, of course, we have “from concentrate” and “not from concentrate,” both of which I explained in my exploration of Tropicana OJ:
“As a quick aside, ‘from concentrate’ means that, after the juice has been squeezed, the excess water is removed. This basically allows for more efficient packaging and transportation, both of which can be extremely costly when dealing with tons and tons of OJ. Then, once the now-concentrated juice has been transported, the water is added back in before it hits the shelves. Therefore, “not from concentrate” obviously means that they simply never removed that excess water. Interestingly enough, whether the juice is from concentrate or otherwise has virtually no effect on the nutritional content — ‘not from concentrate’ is really just a marketing ploy meant to push this idea that their OJ goes straight from the orchard to your glass.”
So yeah, “from concentrate” or otherwise doesn’t really matter when we’re talking about healthiness. However, Hunnes mentions that juices from concentrate might not taste quite as fresh.
Lastly, we have smoothies, which admittedly are much more than juice. “Smoothies, I suppose, are probably more like my preferred method [described above], where you may theoretically be eating more of the whole fruit, as opposed to just the juice,” she says. That said, if you start adding ice cream and stuff like that, things can go downhill quickly.
Now that we have an incredibly deep understanding of juice in its many forms, let’s go ahead and get to our ranking of the more common single ingredient juices:
1) Tomato Juice: “This probably has the least amount of sugar,” Hunnes says. “It’s also high in lycopene [an antioxidant that’s been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer] and potassium [a nutrient that helps relieve muscle spasms, reduces inflammation and lowers blood pressure].”
2) Cranberry Juice: “If this is 100 percent cranberry juice, with no other juices added, then this is second in my book,” says Hunnes. “It’s low in sugar and possibly good for UTI prevention. But it will be sour.” As we learned in a previous article, though, you’d have to drink a shitload of cranberry juice in order for it to really prevent UTIs. On the plus side, cranberries are quite high in vitamin C, which helps the immune system.
3) Pomegranate Juice: “This is similar to cranberry juice, but sweeter, tarter and high in phytonutrients due to its very dark color,” Hunnes explains. Phytonutrients possess an impressive list of health benefits: They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, while also providing support for the immune system, repairing DNA from exposure to toxic chemicals and detoxifying carcinogens (which reduces cancer and heart disease risks).
4) Carrot Juice: “This is high in vitamin A, which may help your eyesight,” Hunnes says. As far as sugar content goes, it’s also comparable to tomato juice, which is a good thing. Better yet, carrots contain high levels of beta-carotene, which acts as an antioxidant that slows down cellular aging, which could theoretically slow down the overall aging process.
5) Grape Juice: “Similar to wine, grape juice can contain resveratrol [a compound that might protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, vascular dementia and simply extend your lifespan] and other phytonutrients that may prevent heart disease,” Hunnes says.
6) Orange Juice: Hunnes says that this is high in potassium, but also, as you may have suspected, high in sugar. But hey, mimosas!
7) Mango Juice: “This is high in vitamin A, which again, is good for your eyes,” Hunnes says. “It’s fairly high in potassium as well.”
8) Pineapple Juice: Pineapple is one of the only major sources of bromelain, and according to one study, bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties that can be useful in the treatment of sports injuries. As we also learned in a previous article, pineapple juice might actually help you taste better down under, if you catch my drift. While Hunnes says pineapple juice is mostly just sugar, she does mention that it might be good for diuresis — getting rid of extra salt in the body — so there’s that.
9) Apple Juice: “There’s not much to this but sweetness,” Hunnes says. Like apples, apple juice does actually contain an array of vitamins and minerals; however, as Hunnes explained earlier, juicing can result in losing a lot of that good stuff.
10) Lemonade: “This barely contains fruit juice,” Hunnes says. “It’s mostly sugar and water.”
The real takeaway here should simply be that, when you compare whole fruits and veggies to those made into juice, the juice contains less of the good stuff and more of the bad. So, as Hunnes mentioned before, you’re much better off eating your fruits and veggies instead of drinking them.
Ian Lecklitner is a staff writer at MEL Magazine. He mostly writes about everyone's favorite things: Sex, drugs and food.
- Health: Is Masturbating While Sick Actually Good for You?
- Health: Ranking Hard Liquors by How (Un)Healthy They Are
- Health: Can Your Dentist Tell That You Recently Gave Oral Sex?
- Health: Life on the Bottom
Which juice is good for heart? ›
Beetroot juice stands among the most heart healthy juices. The high nitrate content of beet juice actually widens the blood vessels when it enters the body and studies suggest that blood pressure is lowered within 1 hour of ingestion.Which brand of juice is best? ›
Suja's Uber Greens juice is our top pick for best overall juice, thanks to its national availability, high-quality ingredients, and low sugar content. The 12-ounce size of juice has only 6 grams of naturally occurring sugar and packs a nutrient punch with 30 percent of the recommended intake of vitamin C.Which fruit juice is best? ›
- Apple. Apples are one of the most popular fruits to juice in the world. ...
- Oranges. Oranges, known for their high vitamin C content, are another popular juicing fruit. ...
- Tart cherry. ...
- Cranberry. ...
- Grapes. ...
- Watermelon. ...
- Pomegranates. ...
Pomegranate Tops Other Juices
This chemical is thought to help keep arteries open and keep blood flowing.
A few notable exceptions which are considered low-sugar juice are unsweetened cranberry (try diluting with sparkling water for a light spritzer), fresh, unsweetened beet juice or freshly-squeezed tomato juice (without added sugars).What juice should you drink everyday? ›
If you're only going to drink one glass of juice each day, you want to make it a good one. So get to know which juices offer the biggest nutritional payoff per sip. Pomegranate juice tops the list. It's high in sugar and calories, but gives you a lot of good-for-you nutrients called antioxidants.Which juice is best at night? ›
- They're not only known for making a great pie filling but also a number of health benefits, including improved sleep quality ( 3 , 4 ).
- Cherries' tryptophan content is believed to be one reason these fruits aid sleep.
- Honey and cinnamon drink. Have a glass of honey and cinnamon drink first thing in the morning. ...
- Lemon Juice. ...
- Cinnamon Green Tea. ...
- Coconut water. ...
- Aloe juice. ...
- Pomegranate tea. ...
- Fruit smoothies. ...
- Green tea lassi.
Juicing is no healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables. Juicing extracts the juice from fresh fruits or vegetables. The liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the fruit.What juice has the most sugar? ›
Grape juice has the highest sugar content of several popular drinks. If you like to start your day with a glass of juice, you might want to check the nutrition label to see how much sweet stuff is lingering in your favorite morning beverage.
What will dissolve plaque in arteries? ›
There are no quick fixes for melting away plaque, but people can make key lifestyle changes to stop more of it accumulating and to improve their heart health. In serious cases, medical procedures or surgery can help to remove blockages from within the arteries.How do you remove plaque from arteries naturally? ›
This includes eating a diet that consists of:
Although we're not sure where this claim originated from, we do know there is no scientific evidence proving apple cider vinegar clears clogged arteries. In fact, vinegar should not be substituted for standard treatment.Which thing is good for heart? ›
- Asparagus. Asparagus is a natural source of folate, which helps to prevent an amino acid called homocysteine from building up in the body. ...
- Beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils. ...
- Berries. ...
- Broccoli. ...
- Chia seeds and flaxseeds. ...
- Dark chocolate. ...
- Coffee. ...
- Fish high in omega-3s.
An antioxidant in orange juice called hesperidin improves blood vessel function and helps lower a person's risk of heart disease, researchers report. Hesperidin is a plant-based compound called a flavonoid. (Grapes, red wine, green and black teas, and chocolate also contain flavonoids.)Is apple juice Good for heart patients? ›
"A very moderate intake of apple juice or apples has the potential to reduce risk factors for heart disease in a fairly short period of time," she says. "These small diet changes might play an important role in a heart-healthy diet."Is red juice good for the heart? ›
Red juice is also a good source of potassium which can help to regulate your blood pressure. Red juice can help you have a healthy heart. It is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids, which are beneficial for your cardiovascular health.