Fruit juice is a popular beverage choice for many people looking for a refreshing and nutritious drink. While fresh squeezed juice has an undisputed nutritional edge, some people opt for canned fruit juice as a more convenient and affordable alternative. But is canned fruit juice a healthy option?
The Nutritional Profile of Canned Fruit Juice
Canned fruit juices are made by extracting the liquid from fresh fruits and sometimes blending additional water and sweeteners. The actual fruit content can vary widely between brands and types of canned juice. Some juices contain 100% fruit juice, while others have as little as 10% fruit content with added water, sweeteners, and preservatives.
Compared to fresh fruit, canned juice tends to be lower in vitamin C and other heat-sensitive nutrients due to processing methods. However, canned 100% fruit juice still provides a concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients found naturally in fruits. Popular types of canned fruit juices like orange, apple, grapefruit, pineapple, grape and prune juice can all provide beneficial nutrients.
Here’s a nutritional comparison of some popular canned 100% fruit juices versus their fresh counterparts:
|Juice Type||Serving||Calories||Sugar||Vitamin C||Potassium|
|Orange (canned)||1 cup||112||21g||124mg||496mg|
|Orange (fresh)||1 cup||112||20g||124mg||496mg|
|Apple (canned)||1 cup||114||25g||2.2mg||218mg|
|Apple (fresh)||1 cup||114||25g||8.4mg||218mg|
As you can see, canned versions are very comparable to fresh juice in calories, sugar, potassium and other nutrients – with vitamin C being the main exception due to loss during processing and storage.
Benefits of Canned Fruit Juice
Drinking canned fruit juice, especially 100% varieties, can provide some nutritional perks. Here are some of the top benefits you can get from canned juice in moderation:
- Vitamins and minerals – Canned juices contain a variety of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
- Antioxidants – Many kinds of canned fruit juices are high in antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Phytonutrients – Compounds found in fruits like polyphenols and carotenoids are present in canned juices.
- Hydration – The liquid content of canned juice can help you stay hydrated.
- Convenience – Canned juices are shelf-stable and portable, allowing you to quickly access them.
- Lower cost – Buying larger quantities of canned juice is often cheaper than fresh juice.
Enjoying the nutritional benefits of fruits in juice form can be an easy way to increase your daily intake. Just keep portion sizes of canned juice reasonable.
Downsides of Canned Fruit Juice
Despite the nutritional assets, there are some drawbacks associated with canned fruit juice that are important to keep in mind:
- Lower fiber content – Juice lacks the filling fiber found in whole fruits.
- Less nutrients – Some vitamins like C and folate break down during the juicing process.
- High glycemic index – The natural sugars in juice can cause a quick spike in blood sugar.
- Easy to overconsume – Drinking excess calories from juice is common given the lack of fiber.
- Added sugars – Some canned juices have extra sweeteners added.
- BPA linings – The inner lining of some cans may contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical.
Moderating intake and choosing 100% juice varieties without added sugar can help reduce these downsides when enjoying canned fruit juice.
Nutrition Comparison of Canned Juices
There are lots of canned juice options on the market, all with their own unique nutrition profiles. Here is a nutrition comparison of some popular canned fruit juice varieties:
|Juice (1 cup)||Calories||Sugar||Vitamin C||Vitamin A||Potassium|
As you can see, orange juice is highest in vitamin C, while prune juice is highest in vitamin A and potassium. Grape and apple juice are lowest in vitamin C due to greater nutrient breakdown during processing.
Juice Processing and Quality
Not all canned fruit juices are processed and packaged the same way. Here are some key differences that affect the quality and nutrition of canned juice:
- Pasteurization – Juice is heated to destroy bacteria but also reduces heat-sensitive vitamins like C and B.
- Added sugars – Some canned juices have extra sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup added.
- Reconstitution – Some juices are concentrated then reconstituted with water, losing flavor.
- Preservatives – Ingredients like sorbates and benzoates preserve canned juice.
- Dietary modification – Juices may be labeled “light” by removing nutrients like potassium.
- Shelf life – Unopened juice can last 1-2 years, while opened juice lasts about a week.
Reading nutrition labels and ingredients lists can help identify higher quality canned juices without unnecessary additives.
Fresh vs. Canned Fruit Juice
There is an ongoing debate over whether fresh or canned fruit juice is better. Here is a direct comparison:
|Fresh Juice||Canned Juice|
|Higher vitamin C||Lower vitamin C|
|More folate||Less folate|
|No preservatives||May contain preservatives|
|Shorter shelf life||Longer shelf life|
|Inconsistent quality||Consistent quality|
|Higher price||Lower price|
|Harder to store||Easy to store|
|Fresher taste||Cooked flavor|
Freshly squeezed juice retains more heat-sensitive nutrients but is less convenient than canned options. Canned juice provides consistent quality and value at the expense of some nutritional losses.
Moderating Your Intake of Canned Juice
While canned fruit juice can provide important nutrients, it’s also high in natural sugar without the fiber found in whole fruits. Here are some tips for enjoying canned juice in moderation:
- Limit juice to 1 small glass (6-8 oz) per day.
- Drink juice with meals to slow sugar absorption.
- Water down juice with ice, club soda or water.
- Avoid “juice drinks” with added sugar.
- Rinse canned juice to remove excess liquid sugar.
- Choose low-sodium juice options when available.
- Consider diluting juice 50/50 with water or seltzer.
- Mix and match small amounts of different fruit juices.
Be sure to include whole fruits and vegetables as well in your diet instead of relying solely on juice.
Choosing the Healthiest Canned Fruit Juices
You can optimize the nutrition of canned fruit juice by being a savvy shopper. Here are some tips:
- Select 100% juice instead of “juice blends”.
- Avoid added sugars or sweeteners in the ingredients.
- Look for juices fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
- Compare sodium content and choose low-sodium options.
- Aim for juices packed in glass over cans when possible.
- Look for BPA-free labels on canned juices.
- Choose varieties like orange juice for higher vitamin C.
- Pick single fruit juices rather than fruit “cocktails”.
Reading labels for percentage of juice content, limited ingredients, and specific nutrient information can really pay off in finding healthier canned juice products.
Are Canned Fruit Juices Safe For Children?
In moderation, canned fruit juice can be safely included as part of a healthy diet for children. Here are some points to consider:
- Limit juice intake to 4-6 oz per day for young kids.
- Avoid canned juices with added sugars or sweeteners.
- Dilute juice with water to reduce sugar content.
- Opt for lower sodium varieties when possible.
- Don’t give juice to infants under 1 year old.
- Have kids drink juice with a meal or snack.
- Encourage kids to eat whole fruits too, not just juice.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting juice intake for kids under 7 years old to help avoid extra calories and tooth decay risks.
Best Canned Juice Brands
With so many types of canned juices on shelves, it can get overwhelming choosing healthy options. Here are some of the top brands making high quality canned 100% fruit juices:
- Lakewood – Organic, non-GMO juices without preservatives or added sugar.
- Evolution – Cold pressed, high pressure processed juices to retain nutrients.
- Knudsen & Spritzer – Wide range of fruit juice blends and unusual flavors.
- Trader Joe’s – Affordable, healthy juices including antioxidant-rich pomegranate.
- Santa Cruz Organic – USDA certified organic fruit juices.
- 365 Everyday Value – Whole Foods Market’s brand of quality canned juices.
Checking for shorter ingredients lists, non-GMO or organic certification, lower sodium options, and BPA-free packaging can help find the healthiest canned juice brand for your needs.
Preparing Fresh Juice at Home
For maximum nutrition and flavor, preparing your own fresh fruit juice at home is ideal. Here are some tips:
- Wash produce thoroughly before juicing.
- Use a combination of fruits and veggies for better texture.
- Remove peels from citrus fruits, mangoes and melons.
- Add a squeeze of lemon to help preserve vitamin C.
- Aim to drink juice soon after making for highest quality.
- Use a blender if you don’t own a juicer appliance.
- Store any extra juice in airtight containers in the fridge.
- Add a splash of 100% juice to smoothies or water for flavor.
Experiment with unique flavor combinations like beet apple carrot juice or pineapple kale juice to liven up your homemade fruit and veggie juices.
When consumed in moderation, canned fruit juice can provide important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as part of a healthy diet. Opting for 100% juice varieties without added sugar or sodium is best. Balance your juice intake with plenty of whole fruits and veggies for optimal nutrition. Making your own fresh juices at home can maximize quality and customize flavors.