Juice concentrate is fruit juice from which most of the water has been extracted.
Depending on the type, it can provide some essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.
However, concentrate is processed more heavily than raw fruit juice, so many people wonder whether this is good or bad for their health (1).
This article tells you everything you need to know about juice concentrates, including whether they are healthy.
Water can contain up to 90% juice (1, 2).
When the majority of this liquid is removed, the result is a thick, viscous product called juice concentrate.
Extracting the water reduces bacteria growth, which means that concentrate does not spoil as easily as juice. This process also reduces the costs of packaging, storage and transport (1).
However, the processing methods differ. Most concentrates are filtered, evaporated and pasteurized, but some may also contain additives (1).
Juice concentrates are sold or frozen at room temperature and are intended to be diluted in filtered water before consumption (1, 2).
How it is made
To concentrate the juice, whole fruits are thoroughly washed, scrubbed and ground or mixed to produce a pulp. The majority of the water content is then extracted and evaporated (1).
Because the natural taste of the fruit can be diluted by this, many companies use additives such as flavor packs, these are artificial compounds made from by-products from fruit (1).
What's more, sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are often added to fruit juice concentrates, while sodium can be added to vegetable juice mixtures. Artificial colors and flavors can also be added (1).
Some concentrates are also treated to remove harmful microbes, improving shelf life (1).
Summary Juice concentrate is usually made by evaporating the water from ground or juice. Additives are often used to increase taste and prevent spoilage.
There are different types of concentrates, some healthier than others.
100% fruit concentrate
Concentrates made from 100% fruit are the healthiest option because they contain the most nutrients and are only sweetened with natural fruit sugars – no added sugar. However, they can still contain additives.
If you are concerned about flavorings or preservatives, check the ingredient list.
Concentrated fruit cocktail, punch or drink
Products that are sold as a concentrated fruit cocktail, punch or drink are made from a mix of juices.
These often contain added flavors or sweeteners to compensate for a lack of whole fruits.
Again, reading nutrition labels is the key. If the first ingredient is an added sugar, such as HFCS, cane sugar or fructose syrup, you may want to avoid this product.
Powdered juice concentrates
Powder juice concentrates are dehydrated by methods such as spray drying and freeze drying. As a result, all water content is removed and these products take up less space (1).
Many studies show that concentrated powders of mixed fruits and vegetables are associated with reduced markers of inflammation and increased antioxidant levels (
Although inflammation is a natural bodily response, chronic inflammation has been linked to many diseases, including cancer and diabetes. For example, anti-inflammatory substances in foods such as some juice concentrates can help prevent this condition (
Keep in mind that many powdered juice concentrates contain added sugar, so you want to read labels carefully.
Summary Juice concentrates come in different varieties that often vary in quality and fruit content. Choose 100% fruit concentrate for the healthiest choice.
Orange, pineapple and apple juice products – including concentrates – are becoming increasingly popular, with orange juice making up more than 41% of the global fruit juice market (1).
Concentrates can be attractive because they are cheap and easy to store. They can also offer various health benefits.
Rich in important nutrients
Fruit and vegetable juice concentrates are the healthiest when they are made from 100% fruit or vegetables – without additives such as added sugar or salt.
A 120 ml glass of orange juice prepared from concentrate, for example, provides 280% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin C. This nutrient plays an important role in immunity and wound healing (5,
Carrot juice from 100% vegetable concentrate is a rich source of provitamin A and offers no less than 400% of the DV per 240 ml portion (
Contains useful vegetable substances
Juice concentrate contains useful vegetable substances such as carotenoids, anthocyanins and flavonoids. These are accompanied by many health benefits, including improved heart health and reduced inflammation (2,
The flavonoids in orange juice can help with chronic inflammation associated with obesity. In one study, obese people who drank orange juice for seven consecutive days experienced reduced markers of inflammation (
Another study in 56 obese adults showed that supplements with a mixed fruit and vegetable juice concentrate reduced inflammation and LDL (bad) cholesterol for 8 weeks while increasing lean body mass (
May promote skin health
Many juice concentrates are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which can promote skin health and delay the effects of skin aging.
For example, beta-carotene in carrots and tomatoes has been shown to reduce skin inflammation (
Shelf life and affordability
Juice concentrates can be an affordable alternative to freshly squeezed juice.
What's more, frozen or long-life varieties do not easily spoil. As such, they are useful for those who do not have access to fresh fruit or vegetables (1).
Summary Juice concentrate can provide nutrients that reduce inflammation and promote healthy skin. It is also cheaper than packaged juices and does not spoil that easily.
Juice and juice concentrates may not be the best for everyone.
They generally lack the fiber that offers whole fruit and can be loaded with added sugars.
Some have added sugars and preservatives
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you consume less than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars. A diet with many added sugars is linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease (
It is striking that many juice concentrates contain added sugars, as well as unhealthy preservatives.
That is why you should opt for concentrates without added sugars where possible.
For vegetable juice concentrates, choose low-sodium or concentrates with less than 140 mg of sodium (6% of the DV) per serving (
Lack of fiber
If you buy juice concentrates only for their nutrients, you better eat whole fruit.
That's because concentrate lacks the fiber that offers whole fruit (
These products therefore cause greater peaks in blood sugar levels than whole fruits, because fibers help stabilize your blood sugar levels (
In addition, concentrates often contain more carbohydrates and calories per serving than whole fruit (
For example, a medium-sized orange (131 grams) has 62 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates, while a 240 ml orange juice made from 100% concentrate has 110 calories and 24 grams of carbohydrates (5, 20).
This is because juice requires more fruit than is normally eaten whole. Additives such as sweeteners also contribute to calories.
Even the healthiest juices from concentrate must be consumed sparingly.
It is worth noting that a large population study linked the daily intake of sugary drinks, including 100% fruit juice, with an increased risk of cancer (
Although further research is needed, it is a good idea to limit your intake of any sweetened drink – even 100% fruit juice.
Summary Juice concentrates contain no fibers and are sometimes full of added sugar and preservatives or flavorings. If possible, eat whole fruits and vegetables.
Juice concentrates are inexpensive alternatives to juice that do not spoil easily and may contain vitamins and antioxidants.
However, they are highly processed and often full of sweeteners and other additives.
If you buy juice concentrates, look for those made from 100% juice. However, whole fruit is always a healthier option.