White and purple grape juice both come from grapes, but they look and taste very different.
The nutrients in these beverages, it turns out, are different, too. That's because the drinks are made from different kinds of grapes.
Commercial grape juice gets its flavor from dark, thick-skinned grapes, rather than the sweeter and milder-flavored varieties grown for eating. White grape juice, on the other hand, is made from a green-skinned variety of grapes.
Purple Grape Juice
Why is grape juice purple? Purple grape juice is simply made from dark-skinned grapes.
Most purple grape juice is made from the Concord grape, though juice from wine grapes is used as filler in some brands. Concord is a variety native to America and parts of Canada, which produces small berry-like fruit with a distinctive flavor and aroma.
Curious if purple grape juice is good for you? Concord grape juice is rich in anthocyanins and flavanols, two groups of complex organic chemicals with potentially far-reaching health benefits, found an early April 2007 study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
Purple grape juice is also an excellent source of vitamin C and contains the mineral phosphorus.
An 8-ounce serving of Welch's 100% Concord Grape Juice contains the following:
- 140 calories
- 0 g fat
- 10 mg sodium
- 37 g carbohydrates
- 35 g sugars
- 1 g protein
This grape juice also contains 90 milligrams of vitamin C and 140 milligrams of potassium.
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White Grape Juice
White grape juice is typically manufactured from green-skinned grapes. Niagara grapes, a cousin of the concord, are used for their flavor, and juice from white wine grapes is used as a lower-cost filler in some brands.
White grape juice concentrate is sometimes used as a sweetener for products like jam and jelly and it can also be used to brew beer and add sweetness to wine, according to the California Concentrate Company.
If you're wondering if white grape juice is good for you, it's worth noting that it lacks the array of phytochemicals found in purple grapes. Still, white grape juice is rife with vitamin C.
Some people may believe that white grape juice is a better choice for babies. But this belief has mostly stemmed from research backed by Welch's, which has since led to question relating to the scientific integrity of these findings, the New York Times reported.
An 8-ounce serving of Welch's 100% White Grape Juice contains the following:
- 140 calories
- 0 g fat
- 15 mg sodium
- 37 g carbohydrates
- 36 g sugars
- 1 g protein
Many people enjoy the flavor of white grape juice but prefer a variety with fewer calories — that's where light white grape juice comes in. You can drink light white grape juice and you may also use it to add sweetness and moisture to recipes.
An 8-ounce serving of Welch's light white grape juice, for example, contains just 45 calories. It also contains 10 grams of sugar, which is a big decrease compared to the 36 grams in standard white grape juice.
Even white grape juice contains 100 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
The Health Benefits of Grape Juice
1. It's a Good Source of Vitamins and Carbs
Both white and purple grape juice are an excellent source of vitamin C, with a single 8-ounce glass providing a full day's allowance.
The vitamin C available in this juice is good for your immune system, and it may also provide benefits for your heart. Research suggests a link between vitamin C and the prevention of narrowed blood vessels and impaired heart function, according to a February 2012 study in European Journal of Applied Physiology.
Grapes are a good source of vitamin K and carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars, according to the California Department of Public Health.
2. It Packs Antioxidants
The high level of antioxidant phytochemicals in purple grape may give the darker beverage a leg up when it comes to health claims. Dark red and purple grapes tend to be higher in antioxidants, per the Mayo Clinic.
These antioxidants are not just in the grape's juice: They show up mainly in the skin, stem, leaf and seeds of grapes, rather than in their pulp
Eating whole grapes, instead of drinking just their juice, may be a healthier option. Whole grapes deliver the same amount of antioxidants that are in grape juice and wine but have the added benefit of providing dietary fiber, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A Brief History of Commercial Grape Juice
Ripe grapes are high in naturally occurring sugars, and the powdery coating on their skins contains yeast, so it's no surprise that freshly crushed grape juice ferments readily — making grapes ideal for winemaking.
Of course, wine isn't always the desired result. The story of unfermented grape juice in American commerce begins in 1869 with Dr. Thomas Welch, a teetotaling dentist who wanted to make non-alcoholic Communion wine for his church, as the United Methodist Church tells it. Welch's son Charles promoted the juice successfully at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and their grape juice became a national brand.
- Agricultural Marketing Resource Center Case Studies; Welch Foods, Inc.; Vincent Amanor-Boadu, et al.; October 2003
- Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry: "Evaluation of phenolic compounds in commercial fruit juices and fruit drinks"
- Welch's: White Grape Juice -- The Clear Choice for Infants & Toddlers
- Welch's: Grape Juice
- Welch's: White Grape Juice
- FDA: "Concord Grape Juice"
- Welchs: "100% Grape Juice Concord Grape"
- Welch's: "100% Grape Juice White Grape Juice"
- New York Times: "Company-Backed Juice Study Sets Off a Dispute on Ethics"
- Mayo Clinic: "Does grape juice offer the same heart benefits as red wine?"
- California Concentrate Company: "Varietal Grape Concentrate"
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: "Vitamin C prevents hyperoxia-mediated coronary vasoconstriction and impairment of myocardial function in healthy subjects"
- United Methodist Church: "Methodist history: Controversy, Communion and Welch’s Grape Juice"
- California Department of Public Health: "Exploring California Grapes: Taste Testing"