This Q&A report is a follow up from our hugely popular Pomegranate and Blueberry Juice Consumer Shopping Guide, which exposes dishonest juice products sold in grocery stores. Many readers are asking great questions about these products: Is raw better than pasteurized? Is reconstituted juice as good as freshly squeezed? Is the plastic bottle a threat to health? Must the juices be organic to be healthful?
This follow-up report attempts to answer these questions. Some of the information here is borrowed from the consumer shopping guide mentioned above.
Here are the big questions we're being asked about superfruit juices (along with answers for each one).
The top consumer questions about superfruit juices
#1: Are pasteurized superfruit juice as healthy as raw juices?
No. Raw fruit juice is always healthier than pasteurized. Heat processing destroys a significant portion of the nutrients found in raw juice.
#2: Is the Bisphenol-A chemical in the plastic containers used with fruit juices a threat to my health?
A small threat, perhaps, but the health benefits of drinking superfruit juices greatly outweigh the health risks of plastics chemicals. Still, it's better to drink such juices from glass containers, not plastic.
#3: Are organic fruit juices healthier than non-organic?
Yes! Organic fruits have much higher concentrations of phytonutrients (natural plant medicines), vitamins and minerals. Organic farming is also better for the environment. But even non-organic superfruits are very good for your health, and in my opinion, the health benefits of the natural fruit juices far outweighs the cancer risk of pesticide residues.
#4: Why do you call apple juice and grape juice "junk juices?"
Many superfruit juice products that claim "pomegranate" or "blueberry" on the front label are actually made mostly with cheaper juices such as grape and apple. These are fillers juices that have very little nutritional value compared to pomegranate, blueberry, acai and others.
#5: Are juices made from concentrate as good as juices made fresh?
No! Juices from concentrate are usually imported from growers around the world (including China), then reconstituted with water. The process of removing the water in the first place causes a loss of some nutrients. Reconstituted fruit juice is never as nutritionally potent as fresh fruit juice.
There is also no requirement that juice companies list the country of origin for their juice concentrates. For all you know, they may have been imported from China or some other country famous for exporting contaminated products.
#6: What are the ingredients to watch out for on superfruit juice labels?
Watch out for use of the following:
• High fructose corn syrup (a refined sweetener linked to diabetes and obesity) • Sugar (refined table sugar) • Sucrose (also a refined sugar) • Sodium benzoate (a dangerous chemical preservative) • Apple juice (a filler juice and natural sweetener) • Grape juice (also used as a filler juice, better than sugars but still cheaper than superfruit juices
#7: How do I shop for a superfruit juice product? Here's some quick advice:
Top choice: 100% pure superfruit juice, made from fresh fruits (not from concentrate), packaged in glass. These are by far the most expensive juice drinks on the market.
Good choice: 100% pure superfruit juice, made from concentrate, packaged in plastic.
Poor choice: Juice blends containing some amount of superfruit juice (but mostly apple juice and grape juice or water), made from concentrate, packaged in plastic.
Stupid choice: Juice drinks made with high fructose corn syrup and water, containing a small amount of actual juice, packaged in plastic. These are by far the cheapest juice drinks on the market.
#8: What are the healthiest fruit juices, and what are they good for?
Pomegranate: Anti-cancer, protects the heart and cardiovascular system
Blueberry: Lowers high cholesterol, protects the nervous system from oxidative damage (many people can eliminate statin drugs by eating more blueberries)
Acai: Anti-cancer, reduces digestive cancer risk, supports healthy nervous system function
Noni: Extremely potent anti-cancer, immune-boosting fruit (tastes terrible, though, if it's real)
Cherry: Anti-inflammatory. Reduces or ends arthritis pain. Anthocyanins are also anti-cancer.
Cranberry: Well known to eliminate urinary tract infections (and even helps protect you from airborne viral infections).
In fact, the simple thing to remember is that every berry contains natural medicines and the smaller the berry, the more potent the medicine. So large berries like cherries, strawberries and grapes are not nearly as medicinally potent as tiny berries like cranberries, black raspberries, red raspberries, acai and red currants. The more vibrant the color of the berry, the more medicine it contains. Strong or bright colors indicate higher density of natural medicine.
To get the most benefits, eat a large diversity of berries on a regular basis. Don't just stick to eating or drinking one type of berry. Instead, seek out a wide variety of berries and other superfruits.
#9: Can juice products cure my cancer?
Probably not by themselves. Beating cancer with nutrition almost always requires these things:
• Daily consumption of raw plants from the allium family (garlic is best) • Daily consumption of raw cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli) • Massive intake of vitamin D (under supervision of a naturopath) • Daily consumption of raw, freshly blended fruit and vegetable juices (includ beet, ginger, kale and all the superfruits you can find...) • Total body cleansing, including liver cleanse, kidney cleanse and digestive cleanse • Supplementation with trace minerals like selenium • Regular physical exercise that makes you sweat (sweating is the body's way to eliminate toxins) • Completely eliminating all smoking, eating processed foods and using common personal care products or cosmetics (which contain cancer-causing chemicals) • Daily consumption of medicinal mushrooms like Reishi (recommended brand: www.MushroomScience.com) • Daily consumption of anti-cancer rainforest herbs (like Cat's Claw or Una de Gato: See http://www.NaturalNews.com/Report_Amazon_Herb...
As always, be sure to work with a naturopathic physician if you're battling cancer.
#10: What brands of superfruit juice do you trust?
I don't trust any brands. I read the ingredients on everything. Sometimes the same company sells a crap product right next to a quality product. Don't trust brands, and don't trust corporations. Trust only yourself: Read the ingredients!
1. All the products reviewed here are dead! In other words, even the "honest" products are still made of dead, pasteurized fruits. None of these juices are raw, freshly-squeezed juices, which means they don't even come close to the nutritional value of raw, fresh juices.
The POM Wonderful company disagrees with that statement. Their website counters:
"In order to ensure that you are consuming a safe and healthy beverage, POM Wonderful flash-pasteurizes all its flavors of pomegranate juice. Flash-pasteurization is a process that involves a short period of heating to ensure the elimination of any bacteria. Your safety is our highest priority. Flash-pasteurization also involves a period of rapid cooling in order to retain flavor and nutrients. Flash-pasteurization does not reduce the healthy antioxidants that are found in POM Wonderful pomegranate juice."
However, it is my experience that heating always results in some loss of nutritional value of plant juices. Although the amount of this loss may be small, it is not zero. The actual amount of nutrition that's lost varies on many factors, including the type of nutrients being measured, the temperature to which they are heated and the duration of exposure. The higher the heat and the longer the exposure, the more nutrients are destroyed. That's why pasteurized orange juice, for example, is nutritionally inferior to freshly-squeezed orange juice.
The same is true with pomegranate juice, or blueberry juice, or even cherry juice. Nothing is quite as good as the fresh juices, which is why I strongly recommend the daily consumption of blended smoothies using a Vita-Mix and some raw, fresh ingredients. When you can get pomegranate seeds in season, it's always better to eat them fresh. They're crunchy and sweet, so buy 'em when you can.
When you can't get them in season, juice is the next best thing, and virtually all the juices on the market are made from concentrate. They still offer outstanding health benefits, including proven abilities to help prevent prostate cancer, for example, but they're not as medicinally potent as fresh pomegranate seeds.
2. Most of these pomegranate / blueberry juice products come in plastic containers. Plastics, you may know, often contain the bisphenol-A chemical which is thought to contribute to various cancers. The best products come in glass containers, not plastic. (I recommend buying fruit juices in glass wherever possible.)
3. There are likely pesticide residues in the non-organic juice products. Pesticides aren't listed on the ingredients label, but they're nonetheless present. However, the benefits of consuming these superfruits far outweighs the health effects of trace pesticide consumption, in my opinion, so from a personal perspective, you're still protecting your health with these juice products even if you consume some pesticide residues. For the record, I do not support pesticide use in agriculture and I believe that consumers should buy organic products whenever possible.
4. Some of the healthiest products taste the most bitter. The best-tasting products likely use filler juices such as apple juice and grape juice (which tastes sugary!). Pure pomegranate juice is somewhat bitter and not at all super sweet. So don't judge the quality of these products by how good they taste. The best taste may mean the worst nutrition.
5. Juice concentrates are never as good as fresh juices. Of all the brands reviewed here, most were made from juice concentrates. This means the pomegranates are harvested, blended and dried (usually at high temperatures), then shipped to another facility where the concentrate is re-hydrated, then pasteurized (heated again) and shipped off to the grocery stores. While this process keeps costs down and makes these products more affordable, it also destroys some of the medicinal phytonutrients found in pomegranate juice.
6. Country of origin labeling is not mandatory. Where does all the pomegranate concentrate come from for the products that use concentrate? Nobody knows! One company does say their concentrate is from Turkey, but other companies list nothing. I can tell you from experience that some of this stuff comes from China and is probably contaminated with various heavy metals or scary agricultural toxins. China is the cheapest sources for just about everything in the food and supplement business, but it's also the most highly contaminated source in the world. Sadly, there is no requirement for juice companies to list the country of origin for their juice concentrates.
7. Watch the sugar content of these juices. The other thing to remember with juices made from concentrate is that they tend to be very high in natural sugars, yet they lack the natural fibers found in the original plant. Why does that matter? Because it alters the glycemic index of the juice.
Eight oz. of pomegranate juice (one serving) can deliver over 30 grams of sugars. That's more than two servings of a sweetened breakfast cereal. It's a lot of sugar to deal with. And if you're diabetic or hypoglycemic, you should never drink these juices on an empty stomach. When you eat real pomegranate seeds, you see, the natural seed fibers slow the absorption of the pomegranate sugars. So the glycemic index of pomegranate seeds is far lower than the glycemic index of pomegranate juice. Keep this in mind when planning your consumption of this juice.
Tips: Eat a salad or other high-fiber foods before consuming juices made from concentrate (including pom juice, grape juice, orange juice, blueberry juice or even apple juice). These might include a bowl of oatmeal with extra oat bran, a fresh apple (which contains plenty of fiber), whole grains that are well-chewed, or fiber supplements such as glucomannan. You might also add cinnamon to your oatmeal or breakfast cereal, since cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar and effectively lowers the glycemic index of anything you eat during the same meal.
However, it should be noted that pomegranate sugars are somewhat unique in that they do not spike blood sugar levels as easily as other fruit sugars. It's a mysterious effect, actually, and scientists are not sure why pomegranate juice seems to be so mild in its blood sugar effects. This makes it the ideal juice for diabetics, as it also helps reduce atherosclerosis risks in diabetics. Read Pomegranate Juice Could Benefit Diabetics for more details.
This is also a good reason to go with the higher-quality pomegranate juices mentioned here rather than low-quality juice blends made with apple juice or grape juice (both of which are high on the glycemic index scale). Pure pomegranate juice is far better for your blood sugar than a blend of apple juice or grape juice.
More details on the plastics question
There is increasing concern today about the health effects of eating foods or drinking liquids packaged in plastic. Since most pomegranate juices are packaged in plastic bottles, this is a reasonable concern.
The offending chemical usually cited in this context is bisphenol-A, a hormone mimicker. Many health experts believe that the rise on hormone-related cancers in western societies today is due, in part, to all of the synthetic hormone-like chemicals found in foods, drugs and packaging. Thus, if people are drinking pomegranate juice to help prevent prostate cancer, doesn't it seem contradictory that the juice would be packaged in plastic containers believed to contribute to prostate cancer?
The real answer, in my educated opinion, is found in the heat factor. Plastic releases more chemicals when it is heated. As a result, cooking foods in plastic may be extremely hazardous to your health, but eating liquids stored in cold plastic may, in fact, only expose you to a tiny fraction of the same chemicals. Although this is not a scientific number, here's a reasonable estimation: Food heated in plastic may generate 500 times the bisphenol-A contamination as food kept cold in plastic containers. Thus, cold plastic containers seem relatively safe.
But don't think you're safe yet! The real question here is: What was the temperature of the juice when it was poured into the plastic bottle at the manufacturing facility? For food safety reasons, it would make operational sense to flash-pasteurize the pomegranate juice and pour it into the bottles as quickly as possible, sealing them from possible bacterial contamination. If this is true, it would mean that high-temperature juice comes into contact with the plastic container, and this could be an opportunity for the release of bisphenol-A.
However, I am not a beverage production engineer, and I'm not familiar with the exact process used by juice bottling companies. In any case, regardless of the above, the safest containers are glass because they don't emit any bisphenol-A chemicals whatsoever. In fact, there's nothing harmful in glass, and it's the container of choice for health-conscious consumers.
Of course, glass breaks easily, and it's heavy. These two factors make plastic the obvious choice for cost-conscious companies who are mass-marketing their juices through the retail channels (grocery stores, etc.) But make no mistake: glass is the container of choice for health-conscious consumers.
How much superfruit juice should I drink?
With all the good news about pomegranate juice, many people wonder exactly how much juice they should drink. I find this to be a curious question, borrowed from the pharmaceutical mindset of the population where everything has to have a dosage and side effects disclaimer.
My opinion? Drink as much as you want. This isn't some drug. You can't overdose on pomegranate juice. Just drink at least one serving (8 oz.) a day if you want any serious health benefits.
Pom juice is an excellent addition to any smoothie, by the way, and I've published a collection of healthy smoothie recipes in my book, Superfood Smoothies.
Are the health benefits of pomegranate really so miraculous?
Yes they are. If the drug companies had come up with this, they'd call it a miracle drug and try to get it prescribed to everyone. But it's from nature, not a drug company, so it can't be patented, marketed and sold at ridiculous profits. That's why this genuine natural medicine is only a couple of bucks per serving (or dose).
In my view, it's one of the best investments in your health. For less than the price of a cup of coffee at Starbucks, you can have an anti-cancer, anti-Alzheimer's, anti-heart disease, anti-diabetes drink that's delicious and healthful. That beats a can of sugar water soda any day!
Remember: The best medicine comes from nature. Plants are like tiny pharmaceutical factories, and they synthesize natural medicines automatically, using soil, sunshine, air and water. It's amazing, but true. These medicines are what the human body was intended to eat, not the processed factory food advertised on television and stocked in grocery store shelves. Food made by man will probably kill you. But food made by nature will heal you, and pomegranate juice is made entirely by nature. Get it fresh if you can, or mininally processed as a second choice.
Scientists today have only begun to explore the healing benefits of pomegranate juice. In the years ahead, even more medicinal benefits will almost certainly be found. I predict that pomegranate juice will one day be prescribed as preventive medicine to halt cancers and protect cardiovascular health. One thing for sure is that drinking pomegranate juice has no negative side effects. You'll be healthier and happier by consuming this miraculous fruit on a daily basis.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.