Common methods for preservation and processing of fruit juices include canning, pasteurization, concentrating, freezing, evaporation and spray drying.
Juices are often consumed for their perceived health benefits. For example, orange juice is rich in vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, is an excellent source of bioavailable antioxidant phytochemicals and significantly improves blood lipid profiles in people affected with hypercholesterolemia. Prune juice is associated with a digestive health benefit. Cranberry juice has long been known to help prevent or even treat bladder infections, and it is now known that a substance in cranberries prevents bacteria from binding to the bladder.
Many fruit juices have a higher sugar (fructose) content than sweetened soft drinks; e.g., typical grape juice has 50% more sugar than Coca Cola. While soft drinks (e.g. Coca Cola) cause oxidative stress when ingested and may even lead to insulin resistance in the long term, the same thing cannot be attributed to fruit juices. On the contrary, fruit juices are actually known for their ability to raise serum antioxidant capacity and even offset the oxidative stress and inflammation normally caused by high-fat and high-sugar meals.
Fruit juice consumption overall in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the US has increased in recent years, probably due to public perception of juices as a healthy natural source of nutrients and increased public interest in health issues. Indeed, fruit juice intake has been consistently associated with reduced risk of many cancer types, might be protective against stroke and delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
The perception of commercial fruit juice as equal in health benefit to fresh fruit has been questioned, mainly because it lacks fiber and has often been highly processed. High-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient of many juice cocktails, has been linked to the increased incidence of type II diabetes. High consumption of juice is also linked to weight gain in some studies, but not in others. In a controlled clinical study, regular consumption of grape juice for 12 weeks did not cause any weight gain in volunteers, but consumption of a soft drink did. Fruit juice in moderate amounts can help children and adults meet daily recommendations for fruit consumption, nutrient intake and calories.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that fruit juice should not be given to infants before 6 months of age. For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup). Giving children excessive juice can lead to poor nutrition, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, bloating, and tooth decay.
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