Is this healthy, and if not, how can I make it healthier?
July 1, 2014 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Fruit juice is confusing. How do I figure out what's healthy versus what's not, and what about natural sugar? Even though the juices I'm using don't have sugar added, there's natural sugar, right? Are 3 pints of fruit juice and carbonated water each night, spread out between 7pm and midnight, bad for me?

This is a follow-up to my previous question about carbonated drinks. A few months ago, I started drinking fruit juice mixed with seltzer instead of drinking wine or beer at night. I must say, I haven't missed the alcohol at all, but I want to make sure I'm not trading one bad habit for another. What I want is 100% frickin' natural juice with nothing added or taken away, but the labels seem to make it more confusing. On a typical night, I may drink what amounts to 3 pints of carbonated water and fruit juice (usually a combo of something citrus mixed with cranberry or grape). It's funny, really. It was never my intention to give up alcohol, and I haven't... but ever since I bought a Purefizz carbonator doodad, I rarely drink alcohol at home anymore.

Hopefully this isn't all a ridiculous question.
posted by 2oh1 to Food & Drink (57 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
How much of it is fruit juice versus carbonated water? What's your ratio?
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:28 PM on July 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

It's not a ridiculous question, and make no mistake, this is almost definitely better than alcohol.

But with that said, packaged fruit juice is effectively a junk food, no matter how natural, and it wouldn't hurt to wean the blend towards a weaker mix, in general.
posted by ftm at 7:28 PM on July 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Not a ridiculous question! It's definitely better for you than wine or beer every night. I guess the question is: what is your goal? Most food isn't healthy or not healthy in a vacuum, it's part of your overall general diet. And while certain things are on the "generally healthy" plan like more fiber, more veggies, less saturated fat and less processed sugar, fruit juice is okay in moderation. If you were someone who was taking in too many calories, fruit juices have more calories than tea, coffee or plain old water, for instance. That said, fruit juice with no added sugars (and/or fruit juice with seltzer) has a lot fewer calories than soft drinks or those weird fake juices that aren't real juice and have sweeteners added to them.

And not all fruit juices are the same. Sometimes people talk about "glycemic load" and talking about how things affect your blood sugar and insulin levels. This is a big deal if your diabetic but a lot of people have found that regulating their blood sugar levels can help with appetite and sometimes moods. So if you look at this chart, you can see that orange juice is lower on the list than apple juice. And again this doesn't mean it's healthier per se, but that if you are someone who is affected by sugars in things, orange juice would be a better choice. And that said, make sure you're not thinking "Oh I'm having fruit juice, it's like eating fruit" because that's a disputed claim. Juice lacks fiber and can contribute to weight gain (again like many calorie-containing things).

So yeah unsweetened fruit juice used to be solidly on the "Oh sure it's healthy, give it to your kids" list but now with people more mindful of where their calories are coming from, there are better bang-for-buck ways to get calories but there's nothing inherently wrong with them if you don't need to be managing your weight and/or if you're not diabetic.
posted by jessamyn at 7:32 PM on July 1, 2014 [8 favorites]

tart cherry juice has health benefits not much sugar.
posted by hortense at 7:35 PM on July 1, 2014

Response by poster: My ratio is basically 2/5 carbonated water to 3/5 fruit juice.
I typically use cranberry juice or grape juice plus something citrus like OJ, lemon juice or lime juice (if I'm using lemon or lime, I just use a little. If I'm using OJ, the fruit juice mix may be half cranberry, half OJ).

I sometimes splash in 5 to 10 drops of bitters.
posted by 2oh1 at 7:37 PM on July 1, 2014

Hmm. So that's more than three and a half cups of fruit juice every evening.

Yes, I think that's a lot of sugar if "a lot of sugar" is something you're concerned about. Depending, of course, on the kind of juice. But three and a half cups every night is a lot, to me, to try to fit into a balanced day, which, as others have pointed out, is what you're probably going for. The easiest way to cut that back, of course, would be to use the juice as more of a flavoring -- work toward mostly water with the juice as an add-in just to give it a fruity touch. I've done that and liked it.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:42 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's a lot of sugar you don't really need. It's easy enough to figure out - keep track one night of how much juice you're drinking and then look on the bottle to see how many calories it adds up to. I bet you'll be surprised. I'd cut the ratio way back or only have one glass a night. Or better yet, switch to sparkling water completely. You're a lot better off eating your fruit than drinking it.
posted by something something at 7:42 PM on July 1, 2014

Response by poster: jessamyn: "I guess the question is: what is your goal?"

My goal is to have stuff to drink at night that is healthy and demands to be sipped. Water bores me to tears and I'm not into tea at all. I'd been drinking beer or wine every night, but eventually I realized it had nothing to do with alcohol. I just like tasty drinks. Once I tried mixing carbonated water with fruit juice (and drinking it from a wine glass) I found something I enjoyed so much that I went weeks without alcohol without even trying to. Now, I'm just trying to make this habit as healthy as I can.
posted by 2oh1 at 7:43 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

That's 1.8 pints per night, or 28.8 oz (US). One serving of Welch's grape juice is 8oz, so we are talking 3.6 servings. That's 129.6g of sugar, or more sugar than is in a large Coke.

There are ~4 calories in 1g of sugar, or 518 calories per night from the sugar alone.

Now, I would say it's healthier than alcohol. But not absolutely healthy.
posted by sbutler at 7:44 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would start with just making sure your calorie levels are balanced. As a quick comparison, 8 oz of orange juice has about 112 calories (kcal) and grape juice about 140. A pale lager Bud-like beer might have 90-100 kcal per 8oz and a heavier ale 125-150. So juice (cut with water) is saving you caloric intake vs beer, as well as alcohol intake.
If you're not gaining weight, and if the late-night sugars aren't keeping you from sleeping, then you're fine on some level. You just have to decide if you want more from you food than that. Right now "healthier than beer" is a meaningful metric, but it's actively a health benefit, or healthier than water, so you may want to re-evaluate in the future as your criteria evolve.
posted by aimedwander at 7:44 PM on July 1, 2014

There's more sugar in 100% juice than in many sodas -- we're talking your entire day's recommended amount (25 grams) in ONE eight-ounce serving. Yeah, you're not getting as many nasty chemicals with juice, but pure sugar is seriously bad for you no matter where it comes from. Check out Eat Move Sleep if you're interested in learning more; it's a super fast read and backed by sound research.

You're doing the right thing mixing juice with carbonated water, though! Why not try flavored water instead? I love anything by Adirondack and Perrier's grapefruit thingee.
posted by jessca84 at 7:47 PM on July 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

What about flavored seltzer water? (You have to sip it b/c bubbles). Or something you can add to water, like crystal light?
posted by likeatoaster at 7:49 PM on July 1, 2014

Response by poster: Linda_Holmes : "Yes, I think that's a lot of sugar if "a lot of sugar" is something you're concerned about."

It's not that I am or am not concerned about the sugar. I'm trying to figure out if I should be concerned. ...?

I'm not gaining weight. I'm 5'10" and weigh around 140 to 145 pounds.

aimedwander: "Right now "healthier than beer" is a meaningful metric, but it's actively a health benefit, or healthier than water, so you may want to re-evaluate in the future as your criteria evolve."

Good point! What about healthier than wine?
posted by 2oh1 at 7:50 PM on July 1, 2014

That is a shitload of sugar, homie. Grape and cranberry juice especially have tonnes, with the latter requiring added sugar.

To put it in perspective, consider it with orange juice. A pint of orange juice could well be the juice of ten oranges in it, maybe even more.

Now, think about sitting down and eating ten oranges. That is a shit-tonne of oranges. You would struggle to finish it, you would be uncomfortably full, you would know that you have just consumed a lot of food.

So when you have the juice, you are getting all the calories, all the sugar, you're getting everything in ten oranges except the thing that's healthiest for you, the fibre. And you don't feel full.

My advice: get low/no sugar cranberry, and no/low sugar cordials, like a lemon lime and bitters, or squeeze insome lime juice and fresh mint.

Also, drink with a straw; all that carbonation is bad for your teeth.
posted by smoke at 8:04 PM on July 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

Addendum: natural is not always good and artificial sweeteners are healthier than sugar, gram for gram, of this there is no doubt.
posted by smoke at 8:06 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Figuring out what to drink all day, historically because water was undependable, and nowadays to avoid too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol, etc. is surprisingly hard.

I'd say keep mixing it up because not only are you imbibing a heck of a lot of sugar but carbonated water and anything citrus will both do a job on your tooth enamel. So the more you can mix it up by adding more water, trying flavored teas, etc., the better off you'll be. The key, it seems to me, is not to replace one bad habit with a less-bad habit, but simply to get in the habit of moderating all things, so you don't end up with any excessive habits to break or bad side effects....

For what it's worth, I regularly sip iced herbal tea (no sugar), avocado-chocolate shakes (no sugar), hot tea with jam (making it a little dessert-like), or hot cocoa with dark chocolate, a little cream, and a little sugar. Occasionally, I add coffee to the cocoa and drink it as mocha, too.

It occurs actually that you might enjoy switching out some of that sugar for cream, and avocado, by the by, has a similarly creamy effect, actually....
posted by Violet Blue at 8:07 PM on July 1, 2014

Ermmm, have to disagree with Smoke on his last point. There have been a ton of studies that show artificial sugars can be just as bad for you as sugar, or even more so, because they cause the body to crave more sugar throughout the day. They're also linked to obesity.

Artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost?

Best to stick with naturally-flavored seltzer and unsweetened tea.
posted by jessca84 at 8:10 PM on July 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

Water bores me to tears too. I use MiO drops. They're full of artificial sweeteners which obviously bothers some people, but it doesn't bother me. I like them because they come in a bunch of different flavors, and they let me adjust the amount I use in my drink (which was what I didn't like about Crystal Light).

Adding natural flavoring to water (berries, lime, cucumber, mint) does almost nothing for me and is more or less like drinking water.
posted by dithmer at 8:17 PM on July 1, 2014

I don't really see how that is healthier than alcohol, honestly. That's a shit ton of sugar. There is no nutritional benefit to sugar water, really.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:29 PM on July 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

How many calories are in what you're drinking?

How does that compare to wine or beer?

"Healthy" is not a precise scientific term. I mean, skittles are less healthy than grapes, sure, but once you get away from that, you need to look more granularly.

What are your goals? If they are "drink less alcohol", your fruit juice and seltzer regimen is probably great. If they are "consume fewer calories", you can do the math and see if that's working for you. If it's "lose weight", weigh yourself over time and see if you are, in fact, losing any weight. If they are "have lower blood glucose", test your blood glucose with and without fruit juice and see if it's making any measurable difference.
posted by Sara C. at 8:33 PM on July 1, 2014

What kind of juice? Especially the cranberry juice? Do you mean like cranberry juice cocktail that's mostly other sweet juice or sugar? Or like trader joes unsweetened 100% cranberry that's ultra tart and people look at you funny for drinking it straight up? (Hey, I like it, but I'm bitter too).

I'm probably exaggerating slightly, but its almost the difference between eating candy and eating fruit.
posted by TheAdamist at 8:46 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: TheAdamist: "What kind of juice? Especially the cranberry juice? Do you mean like cranberry juice cocktail that's mostly other sweet juice or sugar? Or like trader joes unsweetened 100% cranberry that's ultra tart and people look at you funny for drinking it?"

That's EXACTLY the kind of stuff I'm looking for! And there's a TJ's not too far from me. I'll have to check that out. Yes, I want tart! I want tart and bold, not sweet. I've been using Welches unsweetened grape.

Sara C: "What are your goals?"

Like I said above in a comment, my goal is to have tasty things to drink at night that aren't bad for me. I'd been drinking dark beer or red wine every night. That can't be good, so, I started looking for something I'd enjoy instead that wasn't bad for me. I guess I mistakenly assumed fruit juices that weren't artificially sugared garbage had health benefits. Teas and watery stuff does nothing for me. I like rich, bold flavors.
posted by 2oh1 at 8:51 PM on July 1, 2014

I was not intending to paint artificial sweetener as an unalloyed good, but compared to the amount of sugar OP is currently drinking it would be a vast improvement, and low cal cordial when mixed with mineral water would represent a relatively small amount.
posted by smoke at 8:59 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm with smoke on the artificial sweetener thing.

Yes, it does habituate your palate to sweet tastes, etc, so it's far from ideal compared to plain water. It's not the diet saviour that we used to think it was.

But in the OP's case, I'd rather drink a dash of concentrated artificially-sweetened cordial in pure water than be consuming the calories of a huge bag of fruit every night.
posted by Salamander at 9:10 PM on July 1, 2014

You should look into kombucha. I switched to booch + soda when I quit drinking for the month of January. In Houston there's a local maker who adds no sugar after the fermentation process. An 8oz serving is 40 calories, plus I dilute that with soda. It's fizzy and kinda funky on its own though.

You might also look into La Croix carbonated waters, which are sugar free and naturally flavored. If neither of these are options for you, I'd start tapering down your juice to soda ration. Because that is a lot of sugar.
posted by Brittanie at 9:18 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, when my doctor recommended cutting carbs, she specifically said to be careful about fruit juice. It's fine to have it sometimes, but it's better to have fruit (fiber and all that). She suggested water with citrus juice squeezed into it, but I'd rather just drink plain water.

Anyway, how about shrubs some of the time? Less sugar, deliciously tart, good mixed with seltzer. Sage and Sea are the only ones I've tried, but I understand that even minimally domestic people can make their own (clearly I don't meet this low bar).
posted by wintersweet at 9:23 PM on July 1, 2014


I am not sure that a single glass or ½ glass of a dark beer or wine is any less 'healthy' for you than a carbonated juice. It is basically just fermented fruit/grain juice. And from what I hear, the fermentation cultures may actually have some health benefits to offer you.

It is my understanding that if you are going to consume sugar, you want the fiber that naturally comes with that sugar. It helps your body process it. I like to visualize sending syrup through a narrow pipe vs sending syrup + fibers through that pipe. The fibers help absorb and scrub what would otherwise be a more sticky mess.

The cultures in beer and wine are also, to my understanding, coevolved to help process the beverage that works its way through your digestive system. Vinegar drinks would probably also fall under 'more healthful' as they also offer live cultures. Also the cultures eat some of that sugar for you.
posted by aniola at 9:41 PM on July 1, 2014

I have no idea how it would taste carbonated, but iced tea can be flavorful. I work at Starbucks right now and at the end of the night I sometimes take home leftover undiluted brewed Passion iced tea to drink and it's tart but very intense, and fruit-y. (It's brewed double strength, basically, and then usually diluted with water to make each serving, but when I take home leftovers I drink it undiluted.) Zero sugar. Other hibiscus-y blends brewed at a very strong concentration would probably be similar.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:14 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bitters and soda with a squeeze of lime, the bartender's friend. Plenty of flavor with minimal sugar. There is at least one brand of bitters (Fee's) that is not alcohol-based, and they make plenty of good flavors, but basic aromatic will go a long way.
posted by Jawn at 10:16 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not answering your question, but giving you an alternative... check out these drinking vinegars. Scroll most of the way to the bottom 'Drinking Vinegar Concentrates.' Mix a bit with your seltzer and maybe some bitters? I just bought the Mango Habanero, and it's spicy, but definitely different. I've mixed with a little crystal light lemonade. Need to get some seltzer. (no affiliation - just a fan)
posted by hydra77 at 10:23 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just to address the meta-question, the main problem with fruit juice is the sugar and there's no straight answer to whether that sugar is "bad" or "too much" except in the context of your entire diet.

If your weight stays steady and you don't have an increase in cavities then keep drinking your juice. If you start to put on weight, the juice is the first thing to cut out.

I recommend trying out a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal. You don't have to use it every day, just put in a couple typical days to see where you're getting your calories from. That might give you the context for whether the juice is worth it.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:40 PM on July 1, 2014

Totally look into an iced tea with hibiscus. Starbucks "passion" tea and Celestial Seasonings' "Red Zinger" are both tart and refreshing. I like that you can drink them straight, but adding sugar totally changes the taste from tart/herbal to "fruit punch."

I personally enjoy tonic water mixed with orange juice. It's actually better without the gin on a hot day.

The only benefit that real juice from fruit has over beer or seltzer is that it has vitamins. It's up to you if the sugar and calories outweigh that.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:45 AM on July 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

My other half has recently become obsessed with fizzy water flavoured with sugar-free Vimto. A sugar-free cordial might be worth trying with your fizzy water to give it a nice flavour without the sugar. Since you need such a small amount (since it's concentrated) it's also pretty cheap.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:13 AM on July 2, 2014

Actually there is a World Health Organization guideline for sugar consumption and it is 5% of your daily calories, although 10% may be more realistic. That's for free sugars, and juice counts. For most women that would be 25 g of sugar and for men, 38 g
posted by warriorqueen at 3:32 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I should add that guideline is for free sugars (basically sugar you add)...but fruit juices are considered free sugars.

According to the documentary Fed Up, which I have seen but have not checked their sources, the reason something like fruit juice is so bad for you is that it requires your body to respond to a whack of sugar at once rather than sugar + fiber + other things like fat. Over time this leads to metabolic syndrome including insulin resistance.

I'm an all things in moderation person - and that movie convinced me to be very aware of any time I am eating sugar in a way that it gets dumped in my body at once.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:56 AM on July 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I also like leaving a pitcher of water in the fridge with slices of lime, lemon, or cucumber. You mention you don't like tea, but you might also want to try experimenting with iced herbal teas like hibiscus/jamaica as others have mentioned, or mint, or liquorice, which tastes sweet without containing sugar?
All of these things definitely help me drink more water and avoid sugary stuff.
posted by ITheCosmos at 4:05 AM on July 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to say, that while I think that your juice intake seems high, remember that purple grape juice has flavonoids, which are beneficial.

As I mentioned in another question, I'm all about Kool-ade lemonade, made with Splenda (you could use stevia as a sweetener if you like) with a splash of strawberry-margarita mix. It's refreshing and tangy and yummy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:29 AM on July 2, 2014

Get your bottles of fruit juice and a pad of paper and a calculator and figure out how much sugar you are getting. It will say on the bottle. If you are really using cranberry juice not cranberry cocktail, and lots of lemon juice and not so much grape juice you will probably not be getting excessive amounts of sugar. There is a gigantic difference in the amount of sugar in grape juice over lemon juice and a big range in between as well. You seem to like bitters and sharps more than sugars so you could well be keeping your sugar at a reasonable level.

For me I allow no more than one glass of juice a day, and I avoid the more syrupy juices, like white grape juice. Orange juice supposedly contains 22 grams of sugar. Why not tinker with your juice combinations to try and make sure you don't go above 22 grams of sugar a day?

Also, consider buying oranges and squeezing them for the juice - and then eat the pulp as well. There is no recommended maximum number of oranges you can eat.

Do not take to sucking lemons or eating freshly squeezed lemon pulp. That's death on the teeth.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:10 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Juices that are 100% juice will nearly always state that on the front of their label. If it doesn’t, read carefully. Anything that is called a “cocktail” is NOT 100% juice.

An additional drink option, if you have a blender, is a fruit milkshake or smoothie; this would be more filling and give you the fiber that makes sugar levels less of a problem.

(Also, someone above stated that carbonation was bad for your teeth. AFAIK there is no evidence that the amount of carbolic acid produced is harmful. Soda flavoring are acidic, which is why they are bad for teeth.)
posted by metasarah at 7:27 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

My suggestions:
1) Dial the juice to seltzer ratio waaaay back. Make it as weak as you can stand it. You can definitely go down to 1/5 juice or so.

2) Strong flavored juices to investigate are: Trader Joe's 100% cranberry; Trader Joe's 100% cherry (love this one); 100% pomegranate. Consider also a virgin mojito: muddle up some mint and lime with only a tiny sprinkle of sugar, mix in the seltzer. Lime-only works as well. And cherry-lime.

3) To control your total juice intake, start the evening by pouring a measuring cup full of the amount of juice you will drink tonight. (1 cup seems reasonable.) Then pour some into your glass and mix with seltzer; repeat until juice is gone, and then don't drink any more juice for the evening.
posted by telepanda at 7:34 AM on July 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Specifically for seltzer, try strong flavors - squeezed grapefruit, limes, lemons, pomegranates, etc, taste great with seltzer, yet don't need any added sugar. Juices like grape juice require a lot of sugar already and dilute pretty easily, so you'll end up drinking a lot with your seltzer, thus ending up drinking a lot. Consider making ginger syrup that you can add to your seltzer in small amounts, also.
posted by suedehead at 10:24 AM on July 2, 2014

I have mostly recently tried to dial down the juice (non-sweetened OJ) to a splash to 1/2c per large glass of seltzer, and a lot more bitters. This makes for a lot less sugar while still bringing a lot of flavor. The TJ's juices are great, and I've also really enjoyed more out there bitters like cardamom and rhubarb.
posted by ldthomps at 10:41 AM on July 2, 2014

Response by poster: Where do I find more interesting bitters? So far, I've only found the basic little bottle.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:10 AM on July 2, 2014

Giant supermarkets have a few "halth and organic" aisles where they have 100% no sugar added cranberry, blueberry and pomegranite juices. Other supermarkets have these kinds of thing s in teh refirgerator shelves (like where the fresh brocoli and such is) in the produce section. It should look almost syrupy compared to juice you are used to.

You could try adding some vegetable juices to your mix to tamper the sweetness. Use some carrot juice for substance and a litle orange to sweeten. Maybe some green juice with cranberry.

2nd the reccomendation for komboucha.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2014

Where do I find more interesting bitters?

If not a local liquor store (based on your profile, The Meadow is in your city and looks like it has a good selection) then Teh Internets: Fee Brothers, Bittercube, Hella Bitter, Regans' Orange Bitters, Peychaud’s, & Bitter Truth are available from wine/liquor websites that ship (like K&L) or on Amazon. If you find yourself loving bitters, there's a great book that includes recipes to make your own.

As smoke, Jawn, and others have suggested: bitters and soda with half a lemon or lime (freshly squeezed) is deliciously refreshing.
posted by JackBurden at 12:16 PM on July 2, 2014

Response by poster: Vegetable juice is something I'm definitely going to look into.

I think possibly my question got off track when I mentioned seltzer. I think many mistakenly thought I'm buying seltzer, and thus, I should try flavored seltzers or sodas instead. I'm actually making my own carbonated drinks with a soda siphon (not a sodastream). Cutting back the ratio of juice to water I'm using isn't an option because it'd become mostly water and I wouldn't enjoy it, which means I wouldn't drink it.

My initial goal was to stop drinking alcohol at night as a daily habit - but I like to drink, so, I wanted a drink I'd enjoy that was better for me. Tart fruit juice mixed with water and carbonated seemed to do the trick. I guess I mistakenly assumed the fruit juice had nutritional benefits, so I figured I'd post this question to figure out what the healthiest options were. I had no idea something like orange juice was so bad for me. That came as a shock.

I like drinks with a deep rich or bold flavor. Coffee: dark with around 1/4 teaspoon of sugar in a huge mug. Beer: DARK! Wine: red. The only tea I like is chai. Iced tea is a yuck for me. I don't like sugary drinks much at all. Maybe once or twice a year I'll buy a smoothie, and it's been years since I've bought soda.

Basically, I'm trying to find something healthy (or at least not bad for me) to enjoy at night, served in a wine glass (or similar-ish), that practically demands to be sipped & savored over time. A wine glass filled with carbonated water & fruit juice with a bit of bitters can easily last me an hour while watching a movie or working on a project, so it seemed perfect. Oops. I guess not.

I'll definitely look into vegetable juice, especially to mix with tart fruit juice in order to find some sort of balance of flavors.

All of this stuff is so confusing. I wonder about how a pint of fruit juice compares to a glass of red wine or a pint of dark beer (think Porters and Stouts).
posted by 2oh1 at 12:19 PM on July 2, 2014

I wonder about how a pint of fruit juice compares to a glass of red wine or a pint of dark beer

As a lot of people have posted, you don't have to wonder. You can look up and compare nutrition facts (substitute the generics with data from your bottles).
posted by JackBurden at 12:54 PM on July 2, 2014

Response by poster: I get that - but I see no mention of sugars on that page. Is the issue just calories? I've always been a slender guy, so I never gave any thought to calories. I just made an effort to avoid artificial garbage, especially high fructose corn syrup.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:09 PM on July 2, 2014

Either your juice has HFCS or it doesn't. That information will be in the list of ingredients.
posted by Sara C. at 1:18 PM on July 2, 2014

Response by poster: I know it doesn't have HFCS. I avoid that stuff like the plague whenever possible. I've been buying 100% natural unsweetened juices (but after reading this thread, I now realize how much sugar those still have).
posted by 2oh1 at 1:25 PM on July 2, 2014

Sugar is listed in the nutrition labels at the top of that link: 1 pint of unsweetened grape juice has 72g of sugar (Welch's 100% Grape Juice nutrition facts) while the glass of red wine has 1g. You'd have to eat ≈2⅔ Snickers to equal the 72g of sugar in that juice.

As sbutler calculated, at 1.8 pts of juice you're consuming 130g of sugar (≈4⅘ Snickers) a night. I'm not a dietician nor a doctor but I'd be weary of getting 25% (assuming you don't consume any other sugar) of a 2000 calorie diet from sugar.

Sugar isn't the only thing to concern yourself with but when you're drinking fruit juice, you're basically drinking sugar.
posted by JackBurden at 1:59 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your body doesn't know the difference between HFCS and sugar from juice or other simple carbs -it all ends up as glucose eventually. HFCS is so bad because it tends to be a filler to give flavor to foods (try to to find a bbq sauce that doesn't have it-it's a challenge), and raises the calories/sugars of items that you'd think don't need it. But it's not somehow, at the most basic level, any better/worse for you than regular old cane sugar or fructose.

I was going to post some nutritional info, but I see I was beat to it, so I'll leave it at that.
posted by PinkPoodle at 2:06 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, geez, you're right! There it is. No idea how I missed it. Thanks for the comparison info. That really helps to put it in perspective.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:08 PM on July 2, 2014

Totally look into an iced tea with hibiscus.

Even though they messed with the ingredients a while back, iced Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger is the best damn thing in the world. You could probably make a strong batch and mix it with bubbles, too. It's particularly good with a bit of lemon. (And for all my orally-fixated brothers and sisters, they make great popsicles, too!)
posted by Room 641-A at 3:28 PM on July 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

> someone above stated that carbonation was bad for your teeth. AFAIK there is no evidence that the amount of carbolic acid produced is harmful. Soda flavoring are acidic, which is why they are bad for teeth.

I was told by my dentist several years ago that the problem was that the bubbles could carry the sugary juice up between the teeth; I was told this when I was drinking a lot of seltzer water with a splash of cranberry juice.

This is anecdotal and could be out of date, but I noticed my teeth were more sensitive when I did that, and became less sensitive when I quit.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:39 PM on July 2, 2014

Teas and watery stuff does nothing for me. I like rich, bold flavors.

I forgot about hint water.

It is exactly the kind of watery thing you don't like. However, with all this talk about fruit juice and sugar I thought I'd mention it because I bet it would be a great way to cut some of the straight fruit juice.

I don't know how they do it, but hint is fruit-flavored water with zero everything. Fat! Sugar! Sodium! Carbs! GMOs! Artificial anything! Soy! Preservatives! Gluten! Dairy! MSG! It's vegan! Made in the USA! It's like Portlandia in a bottle! And it tastes great. Also, more popsicles.

(I have no connection to them. I just don't like sweetened drinks (natural or artificial) and this is a great alternative.)
posted by Room 641-A at 4:24 PM on July 2, 2014

Former boozer here, and like you, a fan of tangy-tart sparkling drinks sipped from a nice glass.

My house drink is a pseudo-limeade/virgin margarita. I buy jars of pure lime juice, unsweetened, NOT from concentrate (the Whole Foods store brand is great, as is Santa Cruz brand). Pour a glug of that in your fizzy water (or flat water), mix in a tiny spoonful or two of stevia (the Whole Foods powder brand is very good -- it's pure Stevia, no filler, hence, less of the fart-inducing properties of the stuff that is doctored with inulin). Stevia isn't a test tube Frankensweetener -- it is made from plant parts, and just naturally has no calories or carbs, so it doesn't jack with your insulin response. It doesn't taste "just like" sugar, but its flavor works beautifully in a tart-type drink, and it dissolves well in cold water.

I also put in a pinch of salt and a double-pinch of ras al hanour spice mix (aromatic, slightly sweet) into it. You can use Nu-Salt if you are sodium-averse.

It's fragrant, tangy, super fun to sip on. Swap out unsweetened cranberry or tart cherry concentrate for more of a red-wine type beverage.
posted by nacho fries at 5:58 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

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