We have all been there, feeling conflicted and confused as we stand in the middle of the grocery store aisles in your attempt to find the most nutritious way of adding fruits to your diet. The packaging tells one story while the Nutrition Facts label tells another with warnings of added sugar. So how do purees, concentrates, and juices stack up against each other?
We see these ingredients in so many of our foods, what are they really? Many ask if there is a real difference between purees, concentrates, and juices but more importantly are they good for us? We are here to break it down for you nice and simple, That’s it. style.
If you aren’t sure what a puree is, it’s probably what your “100% fruit smoothie” is made of. Ultra-high heat is used to process fruits and vegetables, which are then finely strained to remove pulp, stems, and peels from the liquid. Unfortunately, the majority of fiber that fruits like mangoes contain are found in the pulp. Not to mention the high levels of heat kills much of the vitamins and enzymes that give fruits their nutritional value. Now how is that “100% fruit”?
Concentrates & Juices
While concentrates and juices are not necessarily the same as end products, they both started as fruits and ultimately underwent a variety of processing. This may include ultra-high levels of heat for pasteurization, dilution, and reverse osmosis. Various sugars are then added multiple times throughout the process to ensure the final product tastes "good". What was once fresh fruit juice has now become nutritionally void, sugar-filled, liquid.
What's unfortunate about these processes is that the sugars and other added ingredients are masked on your nutritional label simply as "fruit puree". Since the sugars have been added through the process of making purees and juices, they are not disclosed under the "Added Sugars" line on the Nutrition Facts label. This practice makes it difficult for those with food allergies to feel confident that the food they are eating is completely free from allergens.
What’s our advice? Keep things simple! Easy fixes to your shopping and eating habits can include shopping seasonally or opting for the least processed items. Remember, the fewer the ingredients the better!