FARGO, N.D. - Sometimes when I select juice at the grocery store, I want to say; Will the real juice please step to the front of the shelf? That would save me some time reading the fine print on the beverage labels.
However, if the cartons, pouches and bottles sprouted legs and jumped into my cart, I would be quite alarmed.
Selecting real juice requires label reading. While many fruit-flavored concoctions are available, many of the products are fruit-flavored, artificially colored, sweetened water.
Fruit-flavored beverages have a variety of names. Some are called cocktails or punch or fruit drinks. Some might contain real juice but only at a low level, such as 5 or 10 percent.
Many juice products are fortified with vitamin C. Citrus juices, such as orange or grapefruit, are among the few types of juice that contain this essential vitamin naturally. If you look more closely at the labels of some fruit-flavored beverages, you may find that vitamin C is the only nutrient present in significant amounts.
Excess calories from beverages, even healthful ones, can promote weight gain. For example, 3/4 cup of grape juice has about 115 calories, while 3/4 cup of orange juice has about 90 calories.
If you have children or grandchildren, you might be especially interested in the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations.
According to their recommendations, parents or caregivers should limit the juice intake of children from ages 6 months to 6 years to 1/2 to 3/4 cup per day (4 to 6 ounces). Children from age 7 to 18 years should drink a maximum of 1 to 1 1/2 cups of 100 percent juice per day.
Too much juice can promote weight gain, tooth decay and stomach cramps, especially in young children. This professional medical group promotes eating more whole fruit than juice.
You can dilute the calories in frozen concentrated juice products by adding extra water when you prepare the juice.
Think about safety when buying juice, too. During the summer months, you might find unpasteurized juice available at farmers markets or in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores.
All unpasteurized juice products sold in grocery stores are required to carry warning labels stating that the product might contain harmful bacteria that could cause serious illness in children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. For example, heating apple juice to 160 degrees will pasteurize the juice and kill harmful bacteria. After heating, it can be chilled.
Enjoy juice in moderation. To boost your nutrition intake, opt for whole fruit more often and you might save some calories and satisfy your appetite in the process. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 3/4 cup of whole grapes has 78 calories and a medium orange has 69 calories.
Instead of drinking your fruit, try having a peach or a wedge of watermelon. Fresh peaches are 89 percent water and watermelon is 91 percent water by weight. You will feel fuller from eating fiber-rich fruit than from consuming the calories in liquid form.
For more information about children and juice, see the newly updated NDSU Extension Service handout Fresh Squeezed Facts: A Parent's Guide to Juice available at http://bit.ly/12mm9Hm.
Here is a recipe that combines fresh oranges and lettuce from your local grocery store, farmers market or your garden.
Orange Lettuce Salad
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. canola oil or olive oil