Lovers of bottled fruit juices may have to rethink their infatuation. A new report from researchers at the University of Glasgow in the U.K. equated your glass of fruit juice to your can of soda—just with a few more vitamins. And your perception of how healthy juice actually is can be way off as well. When researchers polled more than 2,000 adults, people underestimated the sugar content in juice by a whopping 48 percent.
If you’re trying to cut extra sugar from your life, keep in mind an 8-oz serving of soda contains about 26 to 31 grams (g) of sugar. If your “healthy” juice tops that, then be suspicious. (Here are some not-so-sweet foods that are surprisingly packed with sugar.)
Follow this guide to make smart juice picks at the grocery store.
1. Ocean Spray 100% Cranberry Juice
Sometimes you have to ignore the label on the front because the ingredients on the back tell a different story. This is one of those times. Though it boasts “no sugar added,” the juice is sweetened with grape and apple juice concentrates, contributing to 36 g of sugar per cup. Instead, try Lakewood Organic Pure Cranberry: It’s made with only cranberry juice to keep sugars low at 9 g per cup and nearly half the calories—75 compared to 140. (Use these cutting-edge strategies that diminish the impact any food has on your glucose levels—and on your body's ability to burn fat.)
2. Tropicana Berry Punch
With only 5 percent juice in the blend and high fructose corn syrup listed as the second ingredient, this juice drink will add 29 g of sugar to your day in just one cup. Go for R.W. Knudsen Just Black Currant. If you want a berry flavor, go for this 100 percent juice, which packs only 15 g of sugar per cup.
3. Minute Maid Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry
Contains 29 g of sugar per cup from a blend of five fruit juices from concentrate: apple, grape, pomegranate, blueberry, and raspberry. The juices are listed on the ingredients list in that order, too, which tips you off that there is more apple and grape than blueberry and pomegranate—kind of kills the buzz for why you bought it. Instead try Eden Foods Organic Apple Juice. Apples are full of powerful antioxidants, too—and sometimes it pays to go back to basics with juice. This one packs an impressively low 12 g of sugar per 8 oz.
4. Jamba Juice Kale Orange Power
It can be a smart pick, considering that it’s made with OJ, banana, and kale. However, the juice is made with more OJ and banana than the green stuff, and the sugar content is 40 g per 16 oz cup. Instead, try Evolution Fresh Essential Greens with Lime. If you’re going with a green juice, pick one that packs mostly vegetables—kale, celery, romaine—and a hint of fruit (lime) to keep sugars low. This one packs less than 12 g of sugar per 15.2 oz bottle. (Here are 7 underrated, nutrient-packed vegetables you're not eating—but should be.)
5. Welch’s Essentials Orange Pineapple Apple Juice Cocktail
The label boasts “no high fructose corn syrup” and that’s true, but it also contains added sugar for a total of 31 g per cup. Opt instead for Simply Orange Juice with Pineapple. Contains nearly one-quarter less sugar because it’s made with only orange and pineapple juice. (For more great ways to lower your sugar consumption, follow these 6 strategies to curb your habit.)