A glass of 100 percent fruit juice is a healthier drink than soda or fruit-flavored beverages, but that doesn't mean you should have as much as you want. Even 100 percent fruit juice contains calories, though it also supplies essential vitamins and minerals. That means you can enjoy your favorite juice as long as you drink it in moderation.
Most juice supplies vitamin C, a nutrient that promotes proper collagen formation, repair and maintenance. Collagen is the connective tissue in your skin and tissues. Vitamin C also helps prevent infection. Women need 75 milligrams a day and men need 90 milligrams. A 1/2-cup serving of 100 percent orange or grapefruit juice are the best sources and provide about 42 milligrams of vitamin C. A serving of juice is a good way to boost your intake of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that promotes a healthy heart, muscles and digestive system. The mineral helps regulate your blood pressure, too, and you need 4,700 milligrams per day. A serving of 100 percent orange juice is one of the best sources of potassium with 222 milligrams, and grapefruit juice isn't far behind with 168 milligrams. Cranberry juice supplies 10 percent of your vitamin E needs each day, and apple juice is a healthy source of folate, a vitamin that helps prevent birth defects.
Because 100 percent fruit juice supplies many of the same nutrients present in fresh fruit, you can safely add it to your healthy eating plan. You should, however, limit yourself to about 4 ounces a day, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, because it is high in calories. You won't get any fiber like you do in fresh fruit, either. Many juices, such as cranberry cocktail, contain several grams of added sugar, which decreases the nutritional value significantly.
Fresh-squeezed juice with pulp is one of your healthiest options because it doesn't contain added ingredients and the pulp increases the fiber content a tiny amount. An electric juicer is a simple way to juice many kinds of fruit such as oranges, grapefruits, apples, berries and melon. Bottled and canned juices can be a nutritious option, as well, as long as they're 100 percent fruit juice. Read nutrition labels carefully to find 100 percent juice options. The label will tell you how much of the drink is actually juice. The ingredient list is another clue. If you see ingredients other than fruit juice, water and added vitamins and minerals, it's not 100 percent juice, which means it isn't as nutritious.
A 4-ounce glass of juice is a nutritious accompaniment to your breakfast or lunch. You can also 100 percent fruit juice to smoothies or use it to make tasty marinades for chicken, pork and steak. Squeeze fresh lime juice into homemade salsa to add a bit of vitamin C. Replace your usual salad dressing with olive oil and fresh lemon juice. The combination is healthier than most dressings and the juice adds a small amount of potassium and vitamin C to your salad. Freeze 100 percent juice in frozen pop molds for a nutritious dessert, or drizzle a tiny bit of juice over a serving of yogurt to enhance the flavor and increase the nutrition.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Orange Juice, Chilled, Includes From Concentrate
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Grapefruit Juice, wWhite, Frozen Concentrate, Unsweetened, Diluted With 3 Volume Water
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Cranberry Juice, Unsweetened
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Grape Juice, Canned or Bottled, Unsweetened, Without Added Ascorbic Acid
- Harvard School of Public Health: Healthy Beverage Guidelines
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Potassium
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.