Like regular juice: But concentrated. To make juice from concentrate, most of the water is extracted through a filtration process, and preservatives, sweeteners, and other additives may be added.
You may have noticed some juice labels proudly declare that they’re not from concentrate. But what about the ones that are from concentrate?
Like the name suggests, juice concentrate is basically just concentrated juice. Most of the water has been extracted.
So, while it has more sugar than raw juice, it often still has vitamins and minerals worth sipping on. But since it’s also a lot more processed, some health-conscious consumers wonder if they should be drinking it all.
Here’s all the juicy deets you need to know.
What’s in a watermelon, anyway? (Besides watermelon sugar!) Mostly water. Ditto with pretty much all fruit and veggie juices, from blackberry to orange to celery. In fact, water can make up like 90 percent of most raw juices.
When you take all or most of the H2O out of the juice equation, you get a syrup-like, sugar-laden liquid: Juice concentrate.
Taking the water out means bacteria can’t grow as easily. So since the good ol’ concentrate doesn’t spoil as easily as raw juice, it’s obvs good for biz. Companies can save big this way, from packaging through distribution.
Two juice concentrates aren’t created equal, either. They may be filtered, evaporated or pasteurized, and also have extra additives like potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate or high-fructose corn syrup.
Since they have a long shelf life, juice concentrates are sold frozen or at room temp.
To make juice concentrate, the raw fruits are:
- blended or crushed to a pulp
The water content is then removed via an extraction and evaporation process. Often, water with preservatives is then added back in.
After processing, the juice’s flavor may be a little diminished. As a result, many juice companies jazz up the taste with:
- Additives. Maybe you’ve seen an ingredient like “natural flavors” listed on the back of your label and thought, WTF does that even mean? As it turns out, natural flavors aren’t always so natural. It just means that they get their flavor chemicals from plant or animal sources, even if they’re grown in a lab. Artificial flavors are entirely man-made, meanwhile. These flavors and other additives, like preservatives, are also often added to concentrated juice.
- Sweeteners. You can often find corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and natural (like cane sugar) and artificial flavors (like sucralose) in your juice.
- Sodium. You can find some extra salt in veggie juices in particular.
100% fruit concentrate
If you’re looking for the healthiest juice concentrate option, 100 percent concentrate is 100 percent for you.
Since it’s only sweetened with natural fruit sugars, you don’t have to worry about added sugar. That being said, the sugar content can still be super high due to how dense it is.
It can also still contain additives that some may wanna steer clear of, like benzoic acid. (Even though benzoic acid is considered safe in small doses, it can cause allergies and may increase health risks in high doses.)
Powdered juice concentrates
Remember Tang? Yeah. (‘90s kids can’t forget.)
Powdered juice concentrates are sprayed and freeze-dried, which dehydrates them. This process removes every last drop of water, so that all you’re left with is a lil’ packet.
Even though these powders are often packed with sugar and additives, they might still have some nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation. (Hint: Eating packets of the powder straight-up as a kid was not moderate. Also, guilty. 🙋♀️)
Concentrated fruit punch, cocktail, or drink
Kool-Aid, anyone? Fruit punch, cocktail, and similar drinks are made from a juice blend. These tend to have additives and sweeteners, so they really pack a punch. If you’re concerned about sugar intake, check the label for ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.
Don’t @ us: We’re not hating on juice concentrate. It’s cheap, easy to store, and actually does come with some health benefits.
Here’s what it might do for you:
- Provides vital nutrients. Esp. when you drink the 100 percent juice kind, you’re gonna be gulping down a lot of your daily vitamin goals. For example, an 8-ounce glass of orange juice concentrate prepared with water contains 138 mg of vitamin C. It also boasts 295 mg of calcium, 27.5 mg of magnesium, and 418 mg of potassium.
- Gives you a healthy dose of plant compounds. Juice from concentrate is packed with healthy plant compounds like carotenoids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. These babies are known to reduce inflammation and improve heart health.
- Makes your skin healthier (and glowier). Vitamin C and antioxidants like beta-carotene found in juice are known to boost skin health, providing benefits like reducing inflammation and protecting against UV damage.
Especially for those who either can’t afford or don’t have access to raw fruits or raw juice, juice from concentrate is a pretty healthy way to get your nutrients – in moderation.
We’re not gonna lie: Some juices proudly declare “not from concentrate” on their labels for a reason. Juice concentrate isn’t as healthy as drinking raw juice.
Even though that doesn’t necessarily make it clean-eater enemy numero uno, you def shouldn’t be drinking it for say, that juice cleanse. It’s worth knowing the downsides, including:
- Lacks fiber. Ahh, fiber. Great for your digestion, great for your overall health. But unfortunately, after all that extracting and pulverizing, juice concentrate doesn’t have much fiber left in it. (TBF, though, raw juice likewise lacks a lot of fiber content.) If you want to get more fiber, you’re better off eating raw fruit. The next best thing is prob a smoothie.
- Has added sweeteners, preservatives and sodium. Juice concentrates often have a lot of suss added sweeteners and preservatives that many would rather avoid. Keep in mind that the U.S Department of Human Services advises that you get less than 10 percent of your daily cals from added sugars. Processed sugar in particular can come with a lot of health risks. Added sodium in veggie juices can also be an issue for some folks, especially for those with high blood pressure.
- Can be super sugar dense. You can easily knock back a few oranges in a small glass of OJ – but you prob wouldn’t eat so many oranges in a row that easily. Since juice concentrate has more fruit (and thus more sugar and cals) packed in a tinier package, it’s a lot easier to overdo it. And since there’s not much fiber, drinking any type of juice can lead to a big spike in blood sugar compared to whole fruit. If you want to moderate your sugar, calorie, or carb intake, this can be a prob.
Juice concentrates are affordable alternatives to raw juice. They don’t go bad as quickly and can provide nutritional benefits in moderation.
Even though they do often have essential vitamins and minerals, though, they’re a lot more processed than raw juice and often have a lot of additives and excess sugar.
If you’re concerned about your health, look for the healthiest juice concentrate option: 100 percent juice. At the end of the day, though, getting all the fiber and nutrients in whole fruit is your best bet.