You may think that juice that is not from concentrate is better than juice that is from concentrate. However, if no additional ingredients, such as sugar and chemical preservatives, are added to a "from concentrate" juice, it's no worse for you than a juice that's not from concentrate. "Not from concentrate" isn't the same thing as fresh, raw juice -- it's simply juice that's been pasteurized without being concentrated. No matter what type of juice you get, make sure it doesn't contain added sweeteners.
Differences in Processing
Both "from concentrate" and "not from concentrate" juices are pasteurized to remove potential pathogens that may have been in the fruit. Pasteurization involves quickly heating the juice to kill any pathogens. Commercial juices labeled "not from concentrate" are made by juicing the fruit, and then pasteurizing it. "From concentrate" juice is juiced from the fruit, then filtered through a processor that extracts water. This way, the juice takes up less space when transported. Before being packaged and sold, water is added back into the concentrated juice and it's pasteurized.
Nutrient Content Differences
As long as the process only involves adding the correct amount of water back into the concentrated juice, juice from concentrate has no difference nutritionally than juice not from concentrate. The calorie content will be the same, and the nutrient density of the juice won't be affected, either. However, if additional ingredients are added, like sugar -- often in the form of high fructose corn syrup -- the nutritional profile of the juice will be different due to the additional sugar.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics points out that different brands of juice from concentrate may add different additional ingredients in the juice during processing. For example, one common brand of "from concentrate" apple juice contains only apple juice from concentrate and added vitamin C, while another popular brand of "from concentrate" apple juice contains added sugar. Juice with added sugar may be higher in calories, and will definitely be less healthy.
The Bottom Line
"Not from concentrate" juice is not necessarily healthier than "from concentrate" juice. However, it is important to read the nutrition label, choosing products that contain 100 percent juice without added sugars. Added sugars can be listed as a host of different ingredients, like "corn syrup," "high fructose corn syrup," "dextrose" and "malt." With any type of juice, check the calorie content if you're at risk for obesity or diabetes; juice is often high in calories and carbohydrates, but it doesn't fill you up. The type of juice can make a difference nutritionally as well. For example, both apple juice and tomato and vegetable juice count toward your recommended daily goal of two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables a day, as per ChooseMyPlate.gov. However, half a cup of 100 percent apple juice contains about 60 calories, while half a cup of 100 percent tomato and vegetable juice has about 30 calories.
- Florida's Natural: Not-From-Concentrate
- Penn State University: FDA Recommended Pasteurization Time/Temperatures
- CNN Health: Juice Up Your Diet
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Surprise! This is Processed Too!
- Tree Top: Apple Juice Frozen Concentrate, 12 oz
- Snapple: Snapple Apple
- American Heart Association: What is a Serving?
- Cleveland Clinic: Eating Too Much Sugar? Tame Your Sweet Tooth
- USDA National Nutrient Database, Basic Report: 09016, Apple Juice, Canned or Bottled, Unsweetened, Without Added Ascorbic Acid
- USDA National Nutrient Database, Basic Report: 43365, Tomato and Vegetable Juice, Low Sodium