Is there a difference between shelf stable juices and refrigerated and concentrate in terms of quality and nutrition?

A product that is considered “shelf stable” is one that is normally refrigerated but has been processed in a way that it can be stored on a shelf in a sealed container. Juices that are shelf-stable are pasteurized and preserved in such a way that it does not need to be refrigerated. Once opened, they will need to be kept refrigerated. Juice that is considered “concentrate” has undergone a process to remove the water from it, leaving the flavorful solution behind. Because the water has been removed, the juice concentrate is stored in a much smaller container than typical bottled juice.

Juices of any kind (shelf stable, refrigerated, concentrate) that are 100% fruit juice are nutritionally superior to juices that may have “juice cocktail” or “made with real fruit juice” on the label. These products are generally not considered “healthy” choices, as they may contain a lot of added sugars and high fructose corn syrup. I tell my patients to look for 100% fruit juice on the label and to then review additional information including serving size, calories per serving, carbohydrates etc. I also advise that they look at the ingredient list and choose products with natural ingredients. Old Orchard has a fantastic line of 100% juices; they not only taste great but contain lots of nutrients that are important for your overall health.

I have many patients that ask me what kind of juice they should be drinking or letting their kids drink. My advice may vary depending on the person asking. I have many patients that have diabetes and that are overweight. In these cases I would likely recommend Old Orchard’s Healthy Balance juice. It contains no added sugar, few calories per serving but still tastes great and contains a lot of vitamin C. These patients can have a few glasses a day without ingesting too many calories or sugar. Moms that are interested in giving their toddlers juice may also choose the Healthy Balance because there is no added sugar. Or they can certainly select the 100% fruit juice and then dilute that with a little water. I always advise people to monitor/limit the amount of calories that they are ingesting from beverages. Drinking one’s calories may lead to taking in too many calories which then could result in weight gain/obesity. A patient recently told me that she was experiencing arthritis pain in her legs. I suggested that she try the Very Cherre, which is 100% tart cherry juice. Some studies have suggested that tart cherry juice may relieve joint pain and even improve sleep!

There are many different juice options out there. Shelf stable juice is nice because it’s convenient and doesn’t have to be refrigerated until it’s opened. Juice concentrate is great because it takes up little storage space in the freezer and because of the small container size, it creates less “waste”. Overall as long as the juice is 100% fruit juice and consumed in moderation, all these juices can fit nicely into your daily diet!

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