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Cranberry Juice vs. Cranberry Cocktail

Ask Peggy

Peggy Woodward, RD

DEAR PEGGY: What are the nutritional differences between cranberry juice cocktail and 100% cranberry juice? —L.E., Colorado Springs, Colorado

On its own, cranberry juice is quite tart so many juice makers sweeten it with high-fructose corn syrup…the same ingredient found in soft drinks. It sweetens but provides no nutritional value. These products are typically labeled "cranberry juice cocktails."

Cranberry juices labeled "100% juice" are sweetened with other fruit juices—such as apple, grape or cherry—instead of corn syrup. The beverages are not 100% cranberry juice but 100% juice blends.

Cranberry juice cocktails have about the same amount of calories and sugar as cranberry juice sweetened with fruit juices. This is because the sugar in 100% juice blends comes from the naturally occurring sugar in the fruits, and the sugar in cranberry juice cocktails comes from the cranberry sugar and the added sweeteners.

It's best to choose a cranberry juice made from 100% juice because of the nutritional values of the other fruit juices. These beverages offer vitamins and phytonutrients not found in those sweetened with corn syrup. Whether it's cranberry or another fruit juice, make sure you're buying 100% juice. Check the list of ingredients, and avoid juices that list high-fructose corn syrup.

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