Light Juices: Where Does the Sugar Go?

Posted in Fruit Juices

Dear Brand Doctor,

I am trying to understand the concept of Light Orange Juice like the one sold by Tropicana. The regular version doesn’t have any added sugar, so how do they reduce the sugar content?

Phil W.


Hi Phil,

Thanks for a great question. First, keep in mind that when shopping for a healthy juice you want to look for varieties that offer 100% juice – this guarantees you’re NOT getting any added sugar.

Here’s why: All the sugar comes naturally packaged with the fruit juice. What a concept!

Now, back to your daytime dilemma: How do manufacturers reduce the sugar content in “light” juices?

The simple answer is that in order to reduce the sugar, manufacturers have to reduce the amount of fruit juice.

Unfortunately, that means cutting back on the healthy stuff too. Some drink makers will squeeze out up to 70% less juice (gulp) than the regular versions!

Now sip on this: To compensate for less juice they pump in more water and usually add a few no-calorie artificial sweeteners. But to figure this out, you’d need to read the fine print on the juice label!

Check it Out:

Tropicana Pure Premium Light’n Healthy Orange Juice


Nutrition facts: 42% Juice. Calories 50, fat 0 grams, sugar 10 grams, protein 1 gram

Ingredients: Filtered Water, Not From Concentrate Pasteurized Orange Juice, Natural Flavors, Acesulfame Potassium and Sucralose (Splenda). Vitamins and Minerals: FruitCal (Calcium Hydroxide, Malic Acid, Citric Acid), Potassium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Beta Carotene, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Magnesium Phosphate, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), and Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6).

Decoding the Fine Print

The front label screams “light,” “less sugar,” and “½ the calories.” But what you don’t see is the percentage of juice that’s contained in this variety. Suspicious!

Thankfully, U.S. lawmakers require manufacturers to list the total percent juice content on the very top of the Nutrition Facts label – even on the diluted juices packed with artificial sweeteners!

The Bottom Line: Just about any brand of “reduced sugar” juice is designed to trick consumers into thinking they are getting a healthier option. In reality, you’re drinking up less juice and getting less nutrition. Don’t you feel cheated?

Reality Check: Want fewer calories? Stick with the 100% juice and cut your portions by adding in a few ounces of water. You’ll save on calories and avoid the extra chemical additives.


These varieties and brands have met the Brand Doctor’s standards for ingredients and taste. Plus, they pack a nutritional punch!

Refrigerated Juices:
Florida’s Natural Premium 100% Pure Orange Juice
Florida’s Natural Premium 100% Grapefruit Juice – Ruby Red
Minute Maid Premium – Original 100% Pure Squeezed Orange Juice
Simply Orange 100% Pure Squeezed Orange Juice
Tropicana Pure Premium 100% Pure and Natural Orange Juice
Tropicana Pure Premium Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice

Note: All the varieties listed above offer options with and without pulp, and/or with added calcium – these varieties are good healthy choices too.

Non-refridgerated Juices:
Martinelli’s 100% Pure Apple Juice
Mott’s Natural Fresh Pressed 100% Apple Juice
Ocean Spray 100% Pure Cranberry (usually in healthy foods section)
Sunsweet Gold Label 100% Prune Juice
Welch’s 100% Grape Juice
White House Premium (Pressed) 100% Apple Juice

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In Our Opinion: The information contained in the eBrandAid e-newsletters is strictly based on the opinions of the eBrand Doctors. We have created a set of guidelines that we believe will help shoppers to better understand and decode food labels on products found in most grocery stores. Our mission is to help shoppers find the healthier brands that have the least amount of chemicals and other junk ingredients.

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