Juice is healthy, right? Well, it depends on the juice. Many supermarket juices have hidden "dangers" that would probably put you off if you knew about them.

If you've ever read the ingredient list on the juice you buy from your local supermarket, chances are you will have noticed a number of ingredients that don't exactly sound natural. Neotame, sodium benzoate and ponceau 4R to name justthree. If you live in Europe, these names will have been replaced with the E numbers E961, E211, E124 . What are all of these ingredients and what are they doing to your health?

Preserving the juice, kills the goodness

Anything that is intended to sit on a shop shelf for any length of time, needs a shelf-life. This can be days, weeks or months depending on the product. If you made a freshly squeezed juice at home, how long would you keep it in your refrigerator before you figured it was no longer fit to drink? A day? A week? So how can supermarket juices stay on the shelf for several weeks and still be fit to consume?

The answer is in the way juices are processed. There are a couple of ways to achieve a longer shelf-life and the first is to pasteurize the juice. This means heating it up to high temperatures to kill all of the bacteria in the juice. Unfortunately, not only does pasteurization kill all the bacteria, it also kills some of the live components of the juice, like enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients. Surprisingly, pasteurization also removes a lot of the flavor and aroma from the juice.

So, after pasteurization, the juice has a longer shelf-life, but less nutrients, less flavor and little aroma. No problem. The juice manufacturers can add these afterwards in the form of juice concentrates, high fructose corn syrup, vitamins and artificial sweeteners. Supermaket juices are not sounding so healthy now, are they? And we haven't even looked at the chemicals being added.

Another way to preserve juices is by adding preservatives. These are chemicals that can help prolong the life of the product. Typical preservatives include sulfites or sodium benzoate.

Sodium benzoate (E211) is an interesting chemical that can react with vitamin C to produce benzene, an extremely toxic (and carcinogenic) compound. As juice becomes more acidic, sodium benzoate becomes less effective so more is added to the juice, which in turn, destroys the vitamin C content. Orange juice is one of those most affected. People who are sensitive or allergic to aspirin should be very careful with sodium benzoate as it (as well as some of the azo dyes added to juice) can make the problem even worse.

Plastic bottles can leak bisphenyl-A into the juice

Have you ever noticed that on many mineral water bottles it says "not to be reused"? Why is that? Surely if they are safe to use initially, they'd be safe to use a second time. Well, apparently, many of the bottles used in packaging juice (and mineral water) are not really that safe to use to begin with. You see, when the plastic bottles are made, they are hardened with a chemical called bisphenyl-A, or BPA for short. BPA can leak out of the bottles over time, and this is accelerated when the bottles are allowed to stand for any length of time (warehouse/supermarket shelf) or are warmed/heated (transportation to shops in hot weather or the bottle just sits in your car being warmed by the midday sun).

So what does BPA do to your health? Well, research suggests that BOA mimics estrogens and insulin in the body, wreaking havoc with your hormonal systems. Even the FDA have warned about it's dangers, particularly to children and infants in a paper they released in 2010. Research also suggests that early exposure to BPA can have affect adult learning and memory.

This same chemical is also leaking into the natural water supplies and affecting the ability of fish to reproduce.

The simple answer is to look for juice in glass bottles, or plastic bottles and cartons that do not contain BPA.

So what other hidden dangers can be found lurking in your shop bought juice?

Other hidden dangers of supermarket juices

Here are a list of some:

1. Dyes added to juices can cause severe reactions in some people. Those suffering from asthma, allergies, ADHD, migraines, IBS are probably at the most risk of an adverse reaction. If you have kids, I'd look out for any abnormal behaviour after drinking supermarket juices. I had to stop buying one particular juice after I noticed my son became hyperactive after drinking it. This particular peach juice had yellow or orange artificial coloring added to it.

2. Many vegetable juices have added salt to make them taste better. This can be a major concern for anyone looking to reduce their salt intake.

3. High fructose corn syrup is added to many juices in North America. Unlike natural fructose, this corn syrup contains glucose as well as fructose and can cause real problems with blood sugar levels leading to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

4. There are a large number of other additives, preservatives and colorings that present their own health dangers. You can find a list of these, together with links to more information on each, here.

What is the answer?
Well, you can spend more time inspecting the labels of the juice you buy. That is a clever move for all processed products in the supermarket. Another option would be to make your own juice at home. That way you'd know exactly what was going into it. Not only that, but each glass of juice would be packed with far more natural nutrients than anything the shop can sell you.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Andy Williams is a health nut with a fascination for nutrition. His website Juicing the Rainbow discusses the health benefits of juicing and includes detailed information on the nutritional makeup of your juices. Follow Andy on Google