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What’s really in your juice?


what's really in your juice

When it comes to juicing fruits and vegetables or purchasing bottled juices, it’s not all apples to apples. There are several types of processes our favorite nutrient-charged liquid can go through.

Before making a purchase, it’s important to be aware of the tradeoffs you may be making to save a few cents.

Juicing at home

If you are juicing at home, you have more control over the cost and quality of your produce, but you may not extract as many nutrients as other juicing methods might.

There are two common in home juicers: centrifugal and masticating.

Centrifugal juicers

Centrifugal Juicer

Centrifugal juicers chop fruits and greens into small pieces while rotating at high speeds to separate the juice from the pulp. The juice is carried through a strainer basket and out of a spout.

  • Pros
    • Common
    • Affordable
    • Easy to use
  • Cons
    • Some enzymes are lost due to high-speed spinning causing oxidation
    • Not as high in juice yield as other juicers
    • Produces frothy foam, and juice will separate quickly in the glass

Centrifugal juicers are great for novice juicers, those interested in experimenting, and people on a limited budget. To reduce waste, research recipes to utilize the remaining pulp or investigate local composting options.

Masticating juicers

Masticating juicers grind fruits and vegetables, almost as if they are “chewing” it.

  • Pros
    • Typically produce 15-20% more juice than centrifugal juicers
    • Do not produce as much heat as other juicers, so more nutrients are retained
    • Durable
    • Efficient at juicing leafy greens (like kale)
  • Cons
    • Process is slow
    • More expensive than centrifugal juicers

If you plan on juicing at home long term, a masticating juicer is a good investment. Although it will cost more to purchase initially, it will yield more juice from and will likely last longer.

Purchasing Juice

If you're looking for an easier, more convenient way to drink your greens, you can always purchase your juice. Before swinging into the grocery store or stopping by your local juice bar, make sure you know the differences in the quality of the products these vendors carry.

Made-to-order juice

Ask what type of juicer is being used. Juice bars and cafes will most likely be using a centrifugal or masticating juicer.

Processed Bottled Juice

Under federal law, juice sold by a third party must be processed and meet the 5-log pathogen reduction performance standard¹.

There are a few types of processes bottled juice can go through to kill microorganisms and extend shelf life: pasteurization, UV-C Light, and HPP.


Pasteurization is a common way to preserve juice and deactivate enzymes. This refers to the the process of heating juice before it is packaged. While it is cost-effective for companies, thermal treatment may reduce the nutrient content of the juice². Aside from orange juice³, in the United States, companies are under no obligation to label juice as pasteurized.

Ultraviolet (UV-C) Light

Ultraviolet Light is another non-thermal process that uses UV light exposure to preserve juice. Although this is an approved preservation method, not much research has analyzed the effects of UV light on juice.

HPP (High Pressure Processing)

HPP is the most common form of secondary juice processing. In this case, the processing occurs AFTER the juice has been bottled. During HPP, bottles are submerged in water to extend shelf life to 30-45 days and kill microorganisms.

In a study published in 2016 on treating produce with UV-C and HPP, the conclusion showed there was some degradation of vitamin content and antioxidant activity during standard, FDA approved processing. The analysis also showed that over‐processing was common in the 92 studies conducted, which lead to “an unnecessary decrease in quality and nutritional parameters.”⁴ What does this mean for you? HPPed juice has less nutrients than completely unprocessed juice.

Unprocessed Bottled Juice


Cold-pressed indicates that zero oxygen or heat was applied to the juice as it was extracted. Instead, the liquid was extracted using thousands of pounds of pressure and a hydraulic press. Cold-pressed juice maintains living enzymes, vitamins, and minerals from the produce.

Cold-pressed juice that has not been pasteurized and has not gone through secondary processing is required to contain the raw food warning on the label under federal law. This means heat was never applied before selling the bottle. It is raw and contains living enzymes.

Raw Juice Label

How to verify your juice is truly alive

If it seems like there are a lot of regulations and workarounds, it's because there are. Here are a few quick tips to ensure you are getting the most nutrients out of your bottled juice.

1. The label will most likely contain the word “fresh”, but not the word “pasteurized.”
The FDA ruled that using the word “fresh” is unlawful if the juice has gone through the HPP process or another pasteurization process. However, companies can use the word “fresh” if the label also states that it is pasteurized⁵.

Don’t be fooled by similar language. For example, using “fresh frozen” is acceptable, and the word “raw” is not currently regulated (although there are some open investigations on this topic). Here is an interesting article about a lawsuit against a well-known juice company for mislabeling their products.

2. The expiration date will be within a few days.

    Cold-pressed, fresh juice is alive, unprocessed, and nutrient dense. It will expire within 3-5 days.

    Raw Juice Expiration

    3. When in doubt, ASK!

      ...or Google it! It’s always a good idea to know what you are getting before you put your dollar down.

      Remember, every time you make a purchase, you’re using your money to vote for the product, the company making it, and the processing required to sell it. Vote wisely!


      1. FDA (2011). Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers on Juice HACCP Regulation.
      2. Petruzzi Leonardo, Campaniello Daniela, Speranza Barbara, Corbo MR, Sinigaglia Milena, Bevilacqua Antonio. Thermal Treatments for Fruit and Vegetable Juices and Beverages: A Literature Overview. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food (2016) 15(5). doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12270
      3. FDA (2017). CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. Part 146.
      4. Koutchma Tatiana, Popović Vladimir, Ros‐Polski Valquiria, Popielarz Anthony. Effects of Ultraviolet Light and High‐Pressure Processing on Quality and Health‐Related Constituents of Fresh Juice Products. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food (2016) 15(5). doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12214
      5. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. (2017). Part 101.


      Melinda Nelson is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Program Manager at Daily Juice Cafe. She is passionate about real food and authentic living. You can visit Melinda at our Far West location and follow her journey at MelindaCNelson.comon Instagram @melindacnelson, or on Facebook.

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