Juice is a liquid naturally contained in fruit or vegetable tissue. Juice is prepared by mechanically squeezing or macerating fresh fruits or vegetables without the application of heat or solvents. For example, orange juice is the liquid extract of the fruit of the orange tree. Juice may be prepared in the home from fresh fruits and vegetables using variety of hand or electric juicers. Many commercial juices are filtered to remove fiber or pulp, but high pulp fresh orange juice is a popular beverage. Juice may be marketed in concentrate form, sometimes frozen, requiring the user to add water to reconstitute the liquid back to its "original state". However, concentrates generally have a noticeably different taste than their comparable "fresh-squeezed" versions. Other juices are reconstituted before packaging for retail sale. Common methods for preservation and processing of fruit juices include canning, pasteurization, freezing, evaporation and spray drying.
Juice bars have also become commonplace across most of the western world and offer similar juice blends. Most of these juice bars offer freshly made fruit juices and claim that this provides greater health benefits. The rationale for this claim is that once the fruit has been juiced, its antioxidants start to react with oxygen free radicals and so lose their health benefit. Juice is also commonly found in many cooking recipes from various cultures. The most popular are lime and lemon juice which help to add a slightly more sour or bitter taste to dishes.
In the UK, the term fruit 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, the term "juice drink" can be used to describe any drink which includes juice, even if the juice content is 1% of the overall volume.
In the USA, 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 FDA, the term "nectar" is generally accepted in the U.S. and in international trade for a diluted juice to denote a beverage that contains fruit juice or puree, water, and which may contain sweeteners.
However, fruit juice labels may be misleading, with juice companies actively hiding the actual content. "No added sugar" is commonly placed on labels, but the products are often made from "reconstituted concentrates." This can have the same effect as adding sugars to the beverage as the naturally occurring fructose is still unhealthy for the consumer. It is difficult for the consumer to know the contents of the concentrates.
Juice itself is not a carbonated beverage, but some carbonated beverages, such as Orangina, are sold with actual fruit juice as an ingredient.
Fruit juice consumption overall in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the USA 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.
The perception of fruit juice as equal in health benefit to consumption of fresh fruit has been questioned due mainly to the lack of fiber and the processing they endure. The high amounts of fructose in fruit juice when not consumed with fiber, have been suggested as a contributor to the growing diabetes epidemic in the West. High-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient of many juice cocktails, has also been linked to the increased incidence of type II diabetes. The high consumption of juice is also linked to people putting on extra weight.