What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually when it comes to the subtle labelling differences in fruit juices and drinks. You will see all kinds of advertising in the supermarket, and even ‘100% pure juice’ may need a second look. So what do all these differences mean?

juice-367208_640100% pure juice means just that. The product contains only juice or juice concentrate with no added sugars. Bear in mind that the natural sugar content of some juices can be quite high, but these won’t be ’empty calories’. In other words, the juice also contains vitamins, minerals and the phytochemicals naturally found in the fruit it comes from.

As an example, the carton of “Breakfast Juice” I’ve just got out of my fridge has this ingredient list: Orange juice from Concentrate (85%), Grapefruit juice from Concentrate (15%). That’s it, no other additives. The sugar content is 10g per 100ml, which means a sugar content of 10%, but that same amount of juice also contains 20 mg of vitamin C, plus smaller quantities of other vitamins and minerals that aren’t listed.

One thing to watch out for are juice blends. These are still 100% juice, but you may see something like “100% juice, raspberry”. Simple enough, but manufacturers often use apple or grape juice concentrates as the primary juice in a blend as they are naturally higher in sugar and sweeter tasting than an equal amount of other juice. So always check the label – particularly if, like me, you know you’re allergic to any kind of fruit!

So what about juice drinks? These also generally contain *some* real fruit juice, but a much lower percentage. They will also contain added sugars and will have less nutritional benefits than pure fruit juice. I’ve just got a carton of “Cherry juice drink” out of my fridge as well (we drink a lot of juice and juice drinks!) and here’s the ingredient list for that:

Water, Cherry juice from concentrate (30%), Sugar, Cherry puree (5%), Aronia juice from concentrate (1%), Flavouring, Antioxidant (ascorbic acid), Acid (citric acid). This particular one’s not actually a bad example, because the fruit content is fairly high (36%) and the total sugar content is 11.5g per 100ml, which isn’t much higher than the pure juice. But what about the added ingredients such as flavouring? I’ve also seen fruit drinks with as little as 5% real fruit content, so here it really is important to check the label.

So if you’ve got the choice, it’s always best to go for 100% fruit juice. But for most people, eating a whole piece of fruit and washing it down with a glass of water could be an even better option!