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Juice is a liquid that is naturally contained in fruit and vegetables. It can also refer to liquids that are flavored with these or other biological food sources such as meat and seafood. It is commonly consumed as a beverage or used as an ingredient or flavoring in foods.
Juice is prepared by mechanically squeezing or macerating (sometimes referred to as cold pressed) fruit or vegetable flesh without the application of heat or solvents. For example, orange juice is the liquid extract of the fruit of the orange tree, and tomato juice is the liquid that results from pressing the fruit of the tomato plant. Juice may be prepared in the home from fresh fruit and vegetables using a variety of hand or electric juicers. Juice is one of the most popular drinks to go with breakfast in the morning.
In the United Kingdom the name or names of the fruit followed by juice can only legally be used to describe a product which is 100% fruit juice, as required by the Fruit Juices and Fruit Nectars (England) Regulations and the Fruit Juices & Fruit Nectars (Scotland) Regulations 2003. However, a juice made by reconstituting concentrate can be called juice. A product described as fruit "nectar" must contain at least 25% to 50% juice, depending on the fruit. A juice or nectar including concentrate must state that it does. The term "juice drink" is not defined in the Regulations and can be used to describe any drink which includes juice, however little. Comparable rules apply in all EU member states in their respective languages.
In the US fruit juice can only legally be used to describe a product which is 100% fruit juice. A blend of fruit juice(s) with other ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup, is called a juice cocktail or juice drink. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term "nectar" is generally accepted in the US and in international trade for a diluted juice to denote a beverage that contains fruit juice or puree, water, and which may contain artificial sweeteners.
"No added sugar" is commonly printed on labels of juice containers, but the products may contain large amounts of naturally occurring sugars; however, sugar content is listed with other carbohydrates on labels in many countries.
Juices are often consumed for their perceived health benefits. For example, orange juice is rich in vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, is an excellent source of bioavailable antioxidant phytochemicals and significantly improves blood lipid profiles in people affected with hypercholesterolemia. Prune juice is associated with a digestive health benefit. Cranberry juice has long been known to help prevent or even treat bladder infections, and it is now known that a substance in cranberries prevents bacteria from binding to the bladder.
Many fruit juices have a higher sugar (fructose) content than sweetened soft drinks; e.g., typical grape juice has 50% more sugar than Coca-Cola. While soft drinks (e.g. Coca-Cola) cause oxidative stress when ingested and may even lead to insulin resistance in the long term, the same thing cannot be attributed to fruit juices. On the contrary, fruit juices are actually known for their ability to raise serum antioxidant capacity and even offset the oxidative stress and inflammation normally caused by high-fat and high-sugar meals.
Fruit juice consumption overall in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the US has increased in recent years, probably due to public perception of juices as a healthy natural source of nutrients and increased public interest in health issues. Indeed, fruit juice intake has been consistently associated with reduced risk of many cancer types, might be protective against stroke and delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
The perception of commercial fruit juice as equal in health benefit to fresh fruit has been questioned, mainly because it lacks fiber and has often been highly processed. High-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient of many juice cocktails, has been linked to the increased incidence of type II diabetes. High consumption of juice is also linked to weight gain in some studies, but not in others. In a controlled clinical study, regular consumption of grape juice for 12 weeks did not cause any weight gain in volunteers, but consumption of a soft drink did. Fruit juice in moderate amounts can help children and adults meet daily recommendations for fruit consumption, nutrient intake and calories.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that fruit juice should not be given to infants before 6 months of age. For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup). Giving children excessive juice can lead to poor nutrition, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, bloating, and tooth decay.
A juice bar is an establishment that primarily serves prepared juice beverages such as freshly squeezed or extracted fruit juices, juice blends, fruit smoothies (a thick fruit drink, often iced), or other juices such as fresh wheatgrass juice. Sometimes other solid ingredients or nutritional supplements may be added as boosters, such as fresh bananas, eggs, nuts or nut butter, bodybuilding supplements, soy protein powder or others such as whey or hemp protein powders, wheat germ, or Spirulina (dietary supplement) or Chlorella. Also if less juice is used with these same ingredients drinks called health shakes may be produced.
Juice bars may be stand alone businesses in cities, or located at gyms, along commuter areas, near lunch time areas, at beaches, and at tourist attractions.