Nutritional Value of Juice Vs. Concentrate

The average American consumed 7.4 gallons of juice annually in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While this pales in comparison to some other drinks -- coffee clocked in at an average 23.3 gallons -- it still means fruit juice is a staple in many diets. Juice from concentrate offers an economical alternative to fresh juices and provides some nutritional value, but it loses some of its nutrients during processing. Both types of juice have a place in a balanced diet.

Go for fresh OJ as a better source of vitamins than orange juice from concentrate. (Image: franny-anne/iStock/Getty Images)

Calories and Carbohydrates

Fresh juice and concentrate share several nutritional similarities, including their calorie and sugar content. Raw orange juice and orange juice from concentrate, for example, both contain 112 calories and 21 grams of sugar per 1-cup serving. Fresh and concentrated grapefruit juice also have a similar calorie content, at 96 and 101 calories per cup, respectively. Both fresh and concentrated juices offer energy and serve as a source of glucose to fuel your brain, muscles and other tissues. While it might seem healthier, switching from concentrated to fresh juice won't help you significantly reduce your calorie intake or lose weight.

Vitamin Loss

Fresh juice typically has a leg up on juice concentrate because the juice can lose some of its vitamin content during processing. Raw orange juice, for example, contains 496 international units of vitamin A -- almost twice as much as orange juice made from concentrate, which contains 266 IU. Juice from concentrate can also contain less vitamin C than fresh juice -- fresh and concentrated orange juice offer 124 and 97 milligrams of vitamin C per serving, respectively. Both vitamins support essential functions in your body -- vitamin A boosts immunity and nourishes your skin, while vitamin C is an antioxidant and assists in wound healing -- so in some cases, choosing fresh juice over juice from concentrate might benefit your health by boosting your vitamin intake.

Fortified Concentrate

On the other hand, juice from concentrate sometimes contains nutrients not found in fresh juice because of nutrient fortification -- the addition of vitamins or minerals during processing. For example, calcium-fortified orange juice offers 349 milligrams of bone-building calcium per 1-cup serving -- 35 percent of your daily needs -- while fresh juice offers just 27 milligrams per cup. In addition, a 1-cup serving of vitamin C-fortified apple juice fulfills your entire daily vitamin C requirement, while a cup of fresh apple juice contains just 12.7 milligrams of vitamin C -- 14 and 17 percent of the daily C needs for men and women, respectively.

Intake Recommendations and Guidelines

Whether you opt for fresh juice or juice concentrate, make sure you select 100 percent juice. Juice cocktails, sometimes labeled as fruit drinks -- for example, "orange drink" -- can contain added sugar and don't count toward your daily fruit intake. Consume juice as part of a well-balanced meal plan, but don't rely on it as your main source of fruit. Instead, you should get most of your daily fruit intake from whole fruits and most of your daily fluid intake from water.

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