What Are Juice Concentrates? – Health Information And Uses

Apr 10, 2023 | General, Nutrition | 0 comments

What Are Juice Concentrates

What Are Juice Concentrates?

Juice concentrates are fruit or vegetable mixtures that have been created from crushed pulp matter, which is then usually dehydrated to form a syrup or a powder. A typical fresh fruit or vegetable juice is roughly 90% water, and this water content is usually removed by a process of freeze drying. This water content ordinarily dilutes the material, and with so much water removed in dehydration, the remaining material takes on a ā€˜concentratedā€™ form. This process is most often the preliminary step in to creating ā€˜from concentrateā€™ fruit juice products, which are transported or stored in a dehydrated state. Before packaging and selling water is readded, and the mixture is pasteurized, creating a juice made ā€˜from concentrateā€™. [1] [2]

A table with small piles of powdered juice concentrates in various different colours such as pink and green.
Juice Concentrates Can Take The Form Of Syrups Or Freeze Dried Powders

Due to the fact that juice concentrates contain many of the polyphenols and beneficial compounds from the original juice, juice concentrates are also sometimes used to create food supplement products that offer a highly concentrated form of a plant, fruit, or vegetable in an easy to consume capsule.

Whilst a juice concentrate may immediately conjure up the mental image of oranges and apples, it is important to note that this style of processing is not limited to sweet fruits, and is not always used to create a fruit juice as the final product. Indeed, many vegetables can be processed in this way too, and juice concentrates can be made from anything from rose hips to onions!

How are Juice Concentrates Made?

To make a juice concentrate, fruits or vegetables are first washed, before being crushed or blended to produce a pulp. Most of the water content is then removed from the juice in a process of extraction and evaporation. With most of the water removed, the result is a syrup-like pulp. Typically, this pulp is then freeze-dried to create a dry powder. Freeze drying works by cooling a material to the lowest temperature at which the solid and liquid phase of the material can coexist. Rather than melting, a process called sublimation then occurs. [2]

Strawberry Juice Concentrate Freeze Dried Powder
Juice Concentrates Are Usually Freeze Dried To Create A Dehydrated Powder

Freeze drying is a preferable method of evaporation when compared to dehydration processes using heat. Heat can damage the structure of the fruit or vegetable and denature many of the compounds contained within. In contrast, the process of freeze-drying leaves a powder that retains much of the original nutrient content of the juice. In addition, flavours and aromas generally remain unchanged in this process, making it a very suitable method for preserving food. [3]

Freeze-dried products can be rehydrated quickly in a process called reconstitution. This is because as ice crystals in the material sublimate, gaps or pores are created where the ice crystal was. These microscopic pores allow water to easily rehydrate the medium when it is added.

As long as a freeze-dried substance is stored in an air tight container to prevent the reabsorption of moisture, the resulting dry product can be safely stored at room temperature without risk of spoilage. Indeed, if stored in a vacuum sealed bag or container, juice concentrates can remain unspoiled for around 25 years!

However, once rehydrated and exposed to air, most products based on juice concentrates do require refrigeration, as this process reawakens dormant bacteria and yeast species present in the mixture. This is why a dry juice concentrate powder can be shipped across the world in an unrefrigerated barrel, yet your ā€˜from concentrateā€™ apple juice needs to go in the fridge, and consumed within 30 days of opening!

A video of the process of creating a freeze-dried juice concentrate can be viewed here.

Juice Concentrates: Good Or Bad For You?

When we consider whether juice concentrates are good or bad for human health, we invariably have to ask the question ā€œCompared to what?ā€ In the case of ā€˜from concentrateā€™ fruit juices, many such products provide a beverage that is much more nutrient dense than a typical sugary carbonated soft drink such as cola or lemonade. In these cases, from concentrate juices offer a drink that provides some vitamins and minerals required for optimal health.

However, there are thousands of juice concentrate products on the market, and many of these contain harmful additives, artificial colours, and added sugar. A high quality 100% Juice product may help to support good health, but a poorly made and highly sweetened product may put strain on the body. To make sense of this apparent contradiction, we need to have a closer look at the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of juice concentrate products.

Health Benefits Of Juice Concentrates

Due to the fact that high quality juice concentrates contain many of the polyphenols and beneficial compounds from the original fruit or vegetable, some believe that juice concentrates can provide a quick and easy to consume food supplement to boost a personā€™s dietary intake of the vitamins, minerals, and flavonols present in most fruit and vegetables. In addition to vitamins E and C, the most common and active antioxidant compounds that occur naturally in foods are flavonoids. Research reveals that many of these flavonoids are retained in a juice concentrate.

A glass of orange juice next to a bowl of various fruits.
Juice Concentrates Retain Many of The Beneficial Compounds From The Source Fruit Or Vegetable

There are two ways in which juice concentrates may be able to support optimal health. The first of these is the consumption of ā€˜from concentrateā€™ fruit juices in the diet. Generally, high quality ā€˜from concentrateā€™ juices can retain a reasonable proportion of a fresh juices nutrient content. On average, a 240ml glass of ā€˜from concentrateā€™ orange juice contains 138 mg of vitamin C, 295 mg of calcium, 27.5 mg of magnesium, and 418 mg of potassium. [4]

Research indicates that fruit and vegetable concentrates significantly increase serum levels of antioxidant provitamins and vitamins Ī²-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate. Consumption of from concentrated juices also reduced markers of oxidative stress, and lowered serum levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are an indicator of acquired folate or cobalamin deficiency, and are linked with psoriasis and cardiovascular disease risk. [5] [6] [7]

A bottle containing purple juice concentrate supplements
Mixed Fruit and Vegetable Supplements Could Complement The Diet In Individuals Who Have Low Intake Of Fruits And Vegetables

One study gave participants an oral supplement of concentrated red grape juice for two weeks, and found that the product was able to produce strong antioxidant, hypolipidemic, and anti-inflammatory effects in healthy individuals. Supplementation with concentrated red grape juice resulted in a significant decrease in LDL-cholesterol levels for the participants, and also lowered concentrations of apolipoprotein B-100 ā€“ one of the main protein component of LDL. [8] [9]

A further study noted the positive influence of red grape juice in haemodialysis patients. Haemodialysis is the medical procedure purifying the blood of a person whose kidneys are not functioning adequately. It was found that supplementation of concentrated red grape juice for three weeks was able to significantly reduced blood serum levels of a protein called Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) . High blood serum levels of MCP-1 has been linked with the progression of renal diseases, and are also an inflammatory biomarker associated with cardiovascular disease risk. [8] [10]

Are Juice Concentrates Bad For Your Health?

Juice concentrates unfortunately do not have the best reputation. Indeed, you may have seen fresh fruit juices defiantly labelled ā€˜Not From Concentrateā€™ on your grocery store shelves. Such labelling practices reveal that nutrition conscious individuals will want their fruits, vegetables, and juices to be as close to the original source as possible. Some studies have even shown that the benefits of fruit and vegetable juices remain much more significant when the individual is consuming a pure and unprocessed form. One study looking at the mental health benefits provided by a diet rich in fruits found that their benefits were more pronounced when the fruits had undergone less processing. [11]

A woman pouring orange juice into a glass with fresh fruit in the background.
Juice Concentrates Typically Undergo Much More Processing Than Fresh Fruit And Vegetables

To understand why the processing that juice concentrates undergo may reduce their quality and potential health benefits, we need to look at every stage in the production line.

At the start of the process, where the water is removed from the pulp matter during the dehydration stage, many water soluble vitamins and minerals are lost and evaporated off. Some manufacturers of ā€˜from concentrateā€™ fruit juices will add vitamins and minerals to the mixture at the rehydration state in an attempt try to replicate the original juiceā€™s vitamin content.

Furthermore, fruits and vegetables contain hundreds of lesser known compounds that work synergistically with the major vitamins such as vitamin C. Whilst it is straightforward enough to add vitamin C to a product, manufacturers are unlikely to be able to reproduce the blend of flavanols, antioxidants, anthocyanins, and fibre contained in fresh fruit.

Unfortunately, many ā€˜from concentrateā€™ juices add more than just vitamins to the final product, and consumers should keep a keen eye on any added ingredients on the packaging. Added sugars, colours and flavourings are present in many cheap ā€˜from concentrateā€™ juices, including the synthetic chemicals potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate. These additives are known to be toxic, and their presence reduces the beneficial health benefits of a fruit based drink. [12]

A raspberry alongside a pile of white sugar
Many Sweetened Fruit Drinks Can Be Very High In Sugar

In some countries, High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is used as a sweetener to add flavour to beverages made from juice concentrates. HFCS has been linked with increased rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In the United States, nearly half the average personā€™s intake of HFCS is derived from soft drinks and processed fruit juices. Notably, HFCS is not used in Austria, Lithuania, Ireland, Sweden, India, and Uruguay. [13] [14]

As a pure and fresh juice does not contain these additives, it is considered by many that they are often a healthier option than a product made from a juice concentrate.

Popular fruit concentrates such those made from oranges and apples are known to possess high levels of ā€˜free sugarsā€™ such as monosaccharides and disaccharides. The excess consumption of sugar sweetened beverages has been linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes. The World Health organisation have recommended that free sugars should ideally constitute a maximum of 10% of an individuals total energy intake for a day. [15] [16]

The high sugar content of fruit juices combined with the acidity of many fruits also poses a risk to tooth enamel. Regularly drinking fruit juices high in sugar is known to be a factor that can increase the likelihood of tooth decay in children and individuals with poor dental hygiene practices. [17] [18]

Vegetable juices and vegetable juice concentrates tend to avoid this issue, as they are generally low in sugar content. It is however, common to see salt added to processed vegetable juices as a means to improve their flavour. This presents a Catch-22 issue for those who may seek to use such products in an attempt to foster a low salt diet.

When Should You Consume Juice Concentrates?

Whilst fresh fruit and vegetable juices may offer superior health benefits to juice concentrates, there are still situations in which juice concentrates and their derivative products can be be very useful.

A container ship transporting freight along a coast.
Juice Concentrates Are Much Easier And Cheaper To Transport And Store Than Fresh Fruit And Vegetable Juices

When compared to fresh fruit and vegetable juices, one of the most pronounced advantages of juice concentrates is their much longer shelf life. This is because the dehydration and freeze drying processes also suppresses much of the bacterial action that is present in a fresh juice. With a greatly extended lifespan of the product, this can be very useful for providing fruits and vegetables juices at times of the year where they are not in season. With bacterial and yeast action dormant, dehydrated juice concentrates also do not require refrigeration to be transported, making shipping significantly cheaper and easier.

It is also worth remembering that many regions historically have had little access to fruits. The extended lifespan of juice concentrates also allows regions and communities to access fruit and vegetable juices and the many beneficial compounds they offer in the diet. The lightweight and easy to store juice concentrates are significantly more suited to this endeavour than fresh fruit and vegetables, which can often spoil quickly. Papaya and mangoes for example, do not grow in the arctic circle, yet a freeze-dried powder of these fruits can be safely transported and stored in these locations.

Due to the factors mentioned above, juice concentrates are also often significantly cheaper when compared to fresh juice alternatives. A ā€˜from concentrateā€™ orange juice can therefore be a good option for those on a tight budget, or for catering events where very large quantities are required. In any case, it is always vital to read the labels to check exactly what is in the carton, as some cheap products contain frighteningly little of the fruit or vegetable they claim to offer.

Conclusion

Whilst fruit and vegetable juice concentrates may offer a way for some people to get vitamins and minerals, it remains a very modern and slightly unnatural way for us to get our dietary intake. Fresh fruit and vegetables are not simply sources of minerals, but they also provide fibre. To understand the importance of this, we can look at how the fibre in bananas supports optimal gastrointestinal health, and even encourages beneficial bacteria species in the intestinal tract. Juice concentrates do not contain any fibre, and as such, are not a sufficient replacement for eating fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet.

Three fruit juices.
Fresh Juices And Smoothies Are Often A Better Alternative To Many Juice Concentrates

Juice concentrates offer an effective way to transport and store fruit and vegetables whilst retaining much of their beneficial nutritional value. Of course, a longer shelf life and an extended shelf life are greatly valued by companies as this allows for much easier trade of their goods, and access to distant markets. Itā€™s perhaps telling then, that much of the weakness of juice concentrates is due to cheap and excess processing that some manufactures use.

Consumers should be aware that ā€˜from concentrateā€™ juices may often contain additives. Even when the labels states that ā€˜natural flavoursā€™ are used, this does not necessarily mean what many consumers believe it to. The term natural flavour simply refers to compounds that are found in nature, and does not reflect their origin or health value. Indeed, a lab made additive that was created in a room by rubber gloved technicians under LED lighting can be legally considered a natural flavouring if the compound also occurs in nature.

Good manufacturing processes and high quality ingredients are therefore vital to ensure the final product is suitable for health conscious individuals who seek to avoid potentially harmful additives. The ideal way to consume juice concentrates is part of a healthy balanced diet. Whether you opt for your fruit juice as 100% fresh juice or a ā€˜from concentrateā€™ variety, it best best to enjoy these drinks in relative moderation, due to their high sugar content.


[References]

1. Gaurav Rajauria, Brijesh K. Tiwari. Fruit Juices Extraction, Composition, Quality and Analysis. 2018. Pages 3-13. Chapter 1 ā€“ Fruit Juices: An Overview.

2. Ahmad Adnan, Muhammad Mushtaq, Tanveer ul Islam. Fruit Juices Extraction, Composition, Quality and Analysis. 2018. Pages 217-240. Chapter 12 ā€“ Fruit Juice Concentrates.

3. Bhatta S, Stevanovic Janezic T, Ratti C. Freeze-Drying of Plant-Based Foods. Foods. 2020 Jan 13;9(1):87. doi: 10.3390/foods9010087. PMID: 31941082; PMCID: PMC7022747.

4. US Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. Beverages, Orange drink, breakfast type, with juice and pulp, frozen concentrate, prepared with water. April 2018.

5. Esfahani A, Wong JM, Truan J, Villa CR, Mirrahimi A, Srichaikul K, Kendall CW. Health effects of mixed fruit and vegetable concentrates: a systematic review of the clinical interventions. J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Oct;30(5):285-94. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2011.10719971. PMID: 22081614.

6. South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 27th April 2022. Homocysteine.

7. Wang WM, Jin HZ. Homocysteine: A Potential Common Route for Cardiovascular Risk and DNA Methylation in Psoriasis. Chin Med J (Engl). 2017 Aug 20;130(16):1980-1986. doi: 10.4103/0366-6999.211895. PMID: 28776552; PMCID: PMC5555134.

8. Castilla P, Echarri R, DĆ”valos A, Cerrato F, Ortega H, Teruel JL, Lucas MF, GĆ³mez-Coronado D, OrtuƱo J, LasunciĆ³n MA. Concentrated red grape juice exerts antioxidant, hypolipidemic, and antiinflammatory effects in both hemodialysis patients and healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):252-62. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/84.1.252. PMID: 16825703.

9. South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 27th April 2022. Apolipoprotein B.

10. Viedt C, Orth SR. Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) in the kidney: does it more than simply attract monocytes? Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2002 Dec;17(12):2043-7. doi: 10.1093/ndt/17.12.2043. PMID: 12454208.

11. Brookie KL, Best GI, Conner TS. Intake of Raw Fruits and Vegetables Is Associated With Better Mental Health Than Intake of Processed Fruits and Vegetables. Front Psychol. 2018 Apr 10;9:487. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00487. PMID: 29692750; PMCID: PMC5902672.

12. Sambu S, Hemaram U, Murugan R, Alsofi AA. Toxicological and Teratogenic Effect of Various Food Additives: An Updated Review. Biomed Res Int. 2022 Jun 24;2022:6829409. doi: 10.1155/2022/6829409. PMID: 35782077; PMCID: PMC9249520.

13. Bray GA. Energy and fructose from beverages sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup pose a health risk for some people. Adv Nutr. 2013 Mar 1;4(2):220-5. doi: 10.3945/an.112.002816. PMID: 23493538; PMCID: PMC3649102.

14. Jensen T, Abdelmalek MF, Sullivan S, Nadeau KJ, Green M, Roncal C, Nakagawa T, Kuwabara M, Sato Y, Kang DH, Tolan DR, Sanchez-Lozada LG, Rosen HR, Lanaspa MA, Diehl AM, Johnson RJ. Fructose and sugar: A major mediator of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. J Hepatol. 2018 May;68(5):1063-1075. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2018.01.019. Epub 2018 Feb 2. PMID: 29408694; PMCID: PMC5893377.

15. Imamura F, Oā€™Connor L, Ye Z, Mursu J, Hayashino Y, Bhupathiraju SN, Forouhi NG. Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages, and fruit juice and incidence of type 2 diabetes: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimation of population attributable fraction. BMJ. 2015 Jul 21;351:h3576. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h3576. PMID: 26199070; PMCID: PMC4510779.

16. World Health Organization. (2015). Guideline: sugars intake for adults and children.

17. Auerbach BJ, Dibey S, Vallila-Buchman P, Kratz M, Krieger J. Review of 100% Fruit Juice and Chronic Health Conditions: Implications for Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Policy. Adv Nutr. 2018 Mar 1;9(2):78-85. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmx006. PMID: 29659683; PMCID: PMC5916434.

18. Vargas CM, Dye BA, Kolasny CR, Buckman DW, McNeel TS, Tinanoff N, Marshall TA, Levy SM. Early childhood caries and intake of 100 percent fruit juice: Data from NHANES, 1999-2004. J Am Dent Assoc. 2014 Dec;145(12):1254-61. doi: 10.14219/jada.2014.95. PMID: 25429039; PMCID: PMC7359733.

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Written by Keymer Health

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10th April, 2023

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