Believe it or not, though, certain juices can actually be really good for you. The key is to look for 100 percent on the label to ensure your drink contains just fruit or vegetables and no added sugar. You can also take a peek at the ingredients list. If it’s just the fruit or vegetable, you’re good to go.
The juice will still be high in the sweet stuff, but you’ll be taking in natural sugars, rather than the processed kind that can mess with your health.
Not to mention, these pure juices contain added benefits that you won’t always find listed on the bottle. Pick the right kind, and one glass may even pack a bigger nutritional bang for your buck than a single piece of fruit. The following 100 percent juice varieties serve up a ton of health perks in a small container, no chewing required. Drink up!
This juice may be a little hard to swallow, but its athletic benefits make it worthwhile.
“Because of the high concentration of vitamins C and E (two powerful antioxidants), 100 percent tart cherry juice has been shown to help reduce muscle soreness and weakness post exercise,” says Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T. Plus, preliminary research suggests that tart cherry juice may help you sleep more soundly.
As an added bonus, “just 4 ounces of 100 percent tart cherry juice provides all of your daily vitamin C,” says Shaw, which is crucial for healthy sperm. As the name suggests, tart cherry juice is a bit sour, so try adding it to a smoothie to balance out the taste.
Try this: Shaw recommends Old Orchard 100% Tart Cherry Juice.
Prune juice is making a comeback because it contains a hearty helping of the F word: fiber. “The majority of Americans fall short on their daily fiber needs, meeting only about half of their daily goal,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, R.D., C.D.E. author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies.
If you’re feeling a little backed up after the heavy holiday meals, try sipping 8 ounces of prune juice to help with digestion. “With 3 grams of fiber per serving, it’s an easy way to boost fiber intake and maintain digestive health,” says Palinski-Wade.
She also notes that prune juice is a good source of heart healthy potassium and provides five essential vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A and iron.
Try this: Palinski-Wade recommends Sunsweet Amaz!n Prune Juice.
If you think your morning glass of OJ has too much of the sweet stuff, think again. The 100 percent juice varieties are made from pressed oranges with no added sugar. A glass of OJ contains more than a day’s worth of your vitamin C needs and packs as much potassium as a medium banana, an essential nutrient for muscle contraction and hydration. Plus, many varieties are fortified with bone-boosting calcium and vitamin D.
“The majority of Americans don’t get enough fruit in their diet, and an 8-ounce glass of orange juice counts as one of your daily recommended servings of fruit,” says Alissa Rumsey M.S., R.D. She adds that “100 percent OJ also contains hesperidin, a plant polyphenol that may help maintain a healthy blood pressure and blood vessel function.”
That small bottle of grape-flavored juice you drank as a kid is a notorious sugar bomb—but choose 100 percent juice and you don’t have much to worry about. While its label will tout some of its health benefits, like that it’s an excellent source of vitamin C, it won’t tell you that it has over 250 milligrams of polyphenols. These powerful plant nutrients provide many of the same heart health benefits that red wine is known for.
Plus, early research suggests that drinking grape juice may help keep your mind sharp as you age.
Try this: Welch’s 100% Grape Juice, because each 8-ounce glass counts as two servings (or roughly 1 cup) of fruit.
Related: 6 Power Foods You Should Be Eating
You’ve probably heard of professional athletes downing a shot of beetroot juice before a competition, and with good reason. Beetroot juice contains nitrates, which your body converts to nitric acid that quickly delivers oxygen to your muscles.
“One study found that cyclists who drank two cups of beetroot juice daily increased their speed and oxygen output, indicating that this juice may enhance endurance,” says Palinski-Wade. Not only that, but recent research found that beets may also help speed up your recovery after a tough workout, since the nitrates help calm the inflammation in your muscles, too.
Many find a 70 milliliter (2.4 ounces) concentrated shot of beetroot juice to be much more palatable than an entire 300 milliliter glass of juice, and both have similar amounts of nitrates.
Try this: Beet It Sport Pro-Elite Shot, made with 98% concentrated beetroot juice and a touch of lemon juice.
Pure pomegranate juice is made by pressing the entire pomegranate, including the rind and pith, into each 8 ounce bottle. This process yields juice from 2 whole-pressed pomegranate and nothing else — no added sugar, colors, or preservatives.
Those ruby red pomegranates are packed with antioxidants that provide a wide array of health benefits. “Not only is 100 percent pomegranate juice being studied for its effects on memory and cognition, but a preliminary study found that 8 ounces of 100 percent pomegranate juice daily may increase post-exercise arm and leg strength,” says Shaw.
Another bonus? Preliminary research also suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may actually stall the growth of prostate cancer cells.