What's in your apple juice? Why 100% is better.

What's in your apple juice? Why 100% is better.

Way back when, juice used to be simple-you squeezed a piece of fruit and drank what squirted out. Now, with everything from natural organic nectars to fruity-sounding "nutraceutical" drinks crowding the shelves, taste and nutrition have become much more complicated.

Take fruit punch with 10 percent real fruit juice: the first three ingredients in one brand are water, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar-90 percent of the total product.

The first three ingredients in a 100-percent juice brand, on the other hand, are apple, grape and passion-fruit juices. Natural flavors (to replace the taste lost during pasteurization), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and citric acid (to maintain a shelf-stable pH) may round out the list. The 100-percent juice packs a punch of heart-healthy potassium, absent in the 10-percent version.

Of course the best choice for health is to enjoy the whole fruit, which gives you beneficial fiber and myriad other nutrients otherwise tossed out with the pulp.

-Rachael Moeller Gorman