Is packed fruit juice truly 100%?
When I started these series a few months ago, I did stress that it will inform, enlighten and educate you but in a rather engaging manner. Today, I will be discussing the technical process and components of pure fruit juice with regard to health and nutrition.
In doing this, allow me to swiftly walk you through the origin of ‘Juice’. The juice comes from an old French phrase ‘jus, juis, jouis’, which literally translates to liquid obtained by boiling herbs. Codex Alimentarious defines juice as an unfermented but fermentable liquid obtained from ripe fruit through a mechanical process.
How 100% fruit juice is made
The science of fruit juice depends on whether the fruit juice is ‘from concentrate’ or ‘not from concentrate’. Let’s take orange juice as an example, as with all fruit juices, the story of orange juice starts in the plantations, where the fruit is grown. The ripe fruit is then harvested, and goes straight to the factory where it is then washed, squeezed and rapidly pasteurised. This is a typical process of fruit juice not from concentrate.
On the other hand, fruit juice processed from concentrate only takes a few more stages. Depending on the technique, the juice is either heated by steam so the water in juice evaporates, or ‘ultra-filtrated’, and then concentrated using a reverse osmosis technique. Juice concentrate is born! Next, water is added back to the concentrate and blended to produce high-quality juice. Finally, the juice is pasteurised to ensure that the fruit retains all its natural vitamins and nutrients before packaging.
Regardless of the method used, fruit juice producers capture the fruit’s natural goodness and the qualities from the whole fruit from which the juice is squeezed. not-from-concentrate juice and from-concentrate juice use the same fresh raw materials, and they are both considered to be minimally processed fruit. After processing, the fruit juice can be packed using an aseptic method to help protect its natural nutrients and quality without the use of any preservative.
Fruit juice contains a combination of macronutrients, micronutrients, phytonutrients, and minerals. An array of micronutrients found in fruit juice contributes immensely to the ability of the body to fight free radicals and maintain a healthy status. For this reason, micronutrient malnutrition poses an equal if not a more serious challenge as a deficiency in macronutrients.
The socio-biological issues that associate with micronutrient malnutrition came to the fore in 1991 at the Hidden Hunger Conference, where the world pledged their commitment towards reducing the challenge. Close to three decades after that conference, millions of people still suffer deficiency in micronutrient malnutrition.
Micronutrients in fruit juice are either in the form of vitamins or minerals, which include Vitamin C and A, potassium, magnesium, folate, and calcium. These nutrients play a key role in the growth, development, and maintenance of body tissues.
In addition to micronutrients, pure fruit juices also retain phytonutrients found in whole fruits. Phytonutrients are broadly available as carotenoids, luteins, flavanones, and flavanoids. Studies have also highlighted the importance of this component to the human body.
Dominant vitamins and health benefits
The relationship between fruit juice and vitamin cannot be overstressed. The word ‘vitamin’ is derived from the role it plays in the body, coming from the ‘vital amides’, which are required in little quantity for body metabolism. Vitamins, which are contained essentially in whole fruit and fruit juice, are needed to prevent micronutrient deficiency signs and symptoms in the body. They also regulate the bodies’ biochemical processes, growth, and metabolic activities.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) as found in fruit juice is used in the synthesis of collagen, a major protein; it strengthens the immune system against infection and improves the consistency of the bone and teeth. It also plays a major role in wound healing as well as enhances iron absorption and synthesizes some hormones.
There was a review of the literature published between 1995 and 2013 using PubMed database to evaluate associations between intake of pure fruit juice and antioxidant/oxidant status as well as blood lipid levels in healthy humans. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Process conducted the data extraction and analysis. Limited evidence from ten clinical trials suggests potential improvements in a variety of antioxidant or oxidants biomarkers owing to 100% fruit juice intake.
Research by CE O’Neil et al published in nutritionj.biomedcentral.com in 2012 also says that pure orange juice intake is associated with better diet quality, improved nutrient adequacy, decreased risk for obesity and improved biomarkers of health.
* Malomo is a clinical dietitian (@malomoolusola)