You Oughta Know: How Much Hidden Sugar Is in Your Green Juice

(Photo: Plus Design Studio)

(Photo: Plus Design Studio)

I was chatting with my physical therapist yesterday (Hi, Kristin!) about the blog, and she brought up a really interesting story of how the other day, she was looking at a green juice bottle nutritional facts and her eyes almost popped out at the amount of sugar hiding in this supposedly healthy drink.

It made me think about all the times I drank a bottle, usually feeling pretty healthy about myself when I do, and having no clue that the amount of sugars I was drink is greater than a serving of Haribo Gummy Bears. (I had to equate it to gummy bears as they are my favorite candy, and if I’m drinking more than 19 grams of sugar — the amount in the gummies — then I might as well be eating my bears.)

So under her suggestion, I decided to dig deeper into this whole not-so-hidden sugar thing, and I decided to launch a new series called You Oughta Know (s/o Alanis).

The reason I say “not-so-hidden” is because most juices have their nutrition labels printed right on the bottle, and for those that aren’t, the values can usually be found an easy Google search away. A lot of juiceries make their nutritional facts available on their websites, which is where I found all this info.

(Photo: Alina Karpenko)

(Photo: Alina Karpenko)

Now comes a bit of science for you. The first thing you should know is there is a nutritional difference between naturally occurring and added sugars in foods. Naturally occurring sugars are known as fructose, lactose, glucose, etc. While you don’t want to go overboard of these natural sugars, they’re not as damaging as added sugars. The benefits, like fiber and protein, found in these foods often balance out the risks.

In 2016, the FDA began requiring labeled foods to begin listing “Added Sugars,” which is pretty key as these are the sugars you primarily want to avoid. Added sugars are sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup, malt sugar, and even so-called healthier alternatives like honey and agave syrup. (You can check out a whole list of them here.)

(Photo: Mae Mu)

(Photo: Mae Mu)

The US Dietary Guidelines actually stipulate that people of every age group ought to consume less than 10% of added sugars in their diet daily — and the American Heart Association goes further to say the ideal amount for the average adult woman is about 25 grams (six teaspoons, 100 calories) per day and for men, it’s 36 grams (nine teaspoons, 150 calories) per day. And the World Health Organization goes even further to say total free sugar intake — both naturally occurring and added sugars — should be less than 10% of your daily energy intake. (My hot take: sugar is really, really bad.)

Most of us, however, do a lot more damage than that. According to the Health.gov, the average American consumes around 71 grams of sugar each day (17 teaspoons, 270 calories). That’s more than double the amount we’re supposed to be eating. Yikes. So let’s break down some of the most popular green juices out there and their natural and added sugar content.

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BluePrint

BluePrint’s Juice Cleanse packages are some of the most popular on the market, and the green juice staple in the collection is Kale It Up. While there are no added sugars in the drink, it does contain 16 grams of naturally occurring sugars.

Even with 36% less sugar than its original formula, it’s still more than half of your daily allotment, ladies.

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Pressed Juicery

Pressed carries a number of green juices on their menu: Greens 1, Greens 1.5, Greens 2, Greens 3, Greens 4, and their Celery Juice. They all have zero added sugars, but their sugar values are all over the board.

Greens 1 has only one gram of sugar, as does Greens 1.5 and Greens 4. Celery Juice clocks in at three grams of sugar. However, Greens 2 and Greens 3 both have 12 grams of sugar.

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Juice Press

They have a variety of mostly veg and vegetable plus fruit juices bottled juices and I’m just going to list the values of those (They also have fresh options made in-store). They do not list added sugars separately on their website. From the Mostly Veggie list: 12 fl. oz. Celery Juice has six grams, 16 fl. oz. Mother Earth has six grams, 16 fl. oz. Soul Garden has six grams, 11 fl. oz. Mother Earth Mini has four grams, 16 fl. oz Simple Green has six grams, and 16 fl. oz. Turmeric Ginger Greens has nine grams.

Their Fruit & Veggie menu has considerably more sugar: 16 fl. oz. Doctor Green Juice has 36 grams, 16 fl. oz. Greens + Earth has 34 grams, 16 fl. oz. Love At First Sight has 37 grams, and 16 fl. oz. Love Me has a 19 grams.

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Juice Generation

This New York-based juicer also carries a variety of bottled green juices. They do not have a separate line for added sugars, and their sugar content also varies from drink to drink. Supa Dupa Greens has just two grams of sugar, but then The Professional has 26 grams. Get Ur Green On has 36 grams, while The Detoxifier has seven grams. Hail to Kale has 23 grams and Mr. Greengenes has 31 grams.

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Jamba Juice

Okay, Jamba Juice isn’t known for their lean drinks, but this is just an FYI. Their 12 fl. oz. Tropical Greens smoothie has 28 grams of sugar, their 12 fl. oz. Great Greens has 17 grams, their 12 fl. oz. Kale Orange has 33 grams, their 12 fl. oz. Apples ‘n Greens has 45 grams, their 12 fl. oz. Greens ‘n Ginger has 46 grams (just for shits and giggles, I checked out the 27 fl. oz. sugars and it’s 87 grams). They do not differentiate between natural and added sugars on their site.

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Suja Organic

This popular store brand’s juices don’t have added sugars, but they have a whole range of sugar content. On the low end are Twelve Essentials which has four grams, Uber Greens with four grams, Trim Greens has seven grams, Radiant Probiotic with six grams, and Celery Juice which has just three grams.

On the higher end, Noon Greens has 12 grams, Green Supreme has 18 grams of sugar, Mighty Dozen has 12 grams, and their Green Delight has a whopping 23 grams.

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Evolution Fresh

This supermarket brand has 12 varieties of green juices, including two green juice kombuchas and a smoothie (which I threw in for good measure). Their sugar values vary wildly from drink to drink. Their site does not list added sugars separately.

The lows are Spicy Greens Kombucha with three grams, Organic Celery Glow which has five grams, Organic Green Devotion with five grams, and Ginger Greens Kombucha has seven grams,.

Mid-range are Organic Essential Greens with 12 grams, Organic Greens and Ginger also with 12 grams, Organic Smooth Greens has 14 grams, and Organic Superfoods Thriving Greens has 15 grams.

Highs are Organic Sweet Greens & Lemon with 19 grams, Organic Greens Complete Probiotic Smoothie with 27 grams, Organic Super Fruit Greens is with a hulking 50 grams.

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Daily Greens

This retail brand specializes in just juices, though they have three lines: Green Juices, Green Ades, and Just Veggies. From the Just Veggies line, Just Greens has nine grams of sugar, zero added. From Green Juices, Harmony has 18 grams, Elevate has 18 grams, Renew has 13 grams, and Vitality has 14 grams. From Green Ades, Green Lemonade has zero sugar (wow) because it’s sweetened with monk fruit, which is 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories.

Trader Joe’s

Yes, the intrepid grocery chain has their own proprietary cold-pressed juice line, and their Green Juice contains 11 grams of sugar. They do not stipulate if any of that is added sugar. (This is for you, cuz.)

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V8

Okay, so I still associate V8 with just tomatoes, but actually, they also carry a couple of green juice options un their Fruit & Vegetable Blends offerings and they don’t have any added sugars. Their Healthy Greens comes in two sizes and contains 11 grams of sugar per serving, Sweet Greens has 16 grams, Caribbean Greens has 14 grams. They have a separate Energy line that has a Tropical Greens that has 12 grams (and 80 milligrams of caffeine)

Feature Photo: Josh Massey/Unsplash