As I sat sipping my morning lemon water, I suddenly wondered why I chose to slice and squeeze a lemon every morning, instead of just opening a bottle of lemon juice like I used to.
For one, it tasted waaay better. I also liked the fact that it was fresh, with no preservatives.
So, why did I still have that green and yellow bottle sitting in the refrigerator?
I realized that while I didn’t feel right about the ingredients in the bottle of lemon juice, the convenience and low price tag was just enough to keep me from giving it up completely.
This may sound kind of ridiculous, but I care about what I put into my body. And I don’t like spending time and money on something (like squeezing lemons) unless I think it’s worth it.
I also didn’t want to freak out needlessly over a small amount of what could be pretty harmless ingredients.
So, I decided to put the issue to rest, and do some research on the ingredients in the lemon juice sitting in my fridge.
By the way, it happened to be the name brand, which claims to be “100% Juice”. I don’t even know how they can make that claim. When I see a product claiming to be one hundred percent of ANYTHING, I assume that it consists of just that one thing…you know, the one that it’s a hundred percent of? Maybe my standards are just too high. 😛
Anyway, here’s what I found:
The Contents of ReaLemon
The ingredients in this particular brand include: “juice made from concentrate, sodium benzoate, sodium metabisulfite, sodium sulfite, and lemon oil.”
- Sodium benzoate is a synthesized version of benzoic acid, that when combined with ascorbic acid(vitamin C), forms a carcinogen known as benzene.
“Sodium Benzoate chokes out your body’s nutrients at the DNA cellular level by depriving mitochondria cells of oxygen, sometimes completely shutting them down”.
The FDA claims it’s harmless in small doses, simply limiting the use of it to 0.1 % of a product. I think I’ll pass on ingesting small doses of a toxic substance. 😛 Somehow, the “moderation” principle doesn’t seem to apply here.
- Sodium Metabisulfite and sodium sulfite are both inorganic salts created for use as preservatives. Some people have noticeable allergies to sulfites. An article from The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, states that,
“Sensitivity to sulfites can develop at any time during a person’s lifespan, with some initial reactions not showing up until a person has reached their forties or fifties. The manifestations of sulfite sensitivity include a large array of dermatological, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular symptoms.”
It’s mostly asthmatic individuals that react noticeably to them, but they’re definitely not something I want to be consuming every day, if at all.
And of course, there’s the issue of pasteurization. This may not be a big deal to you, but know that when a juice is heated to such high temperatures, it loses the added benefit of all that vitamin C.
Lemon Juice Alternatives
Thankfully though, this fake juice isn’t the only option for us health-minded individuals. You can also buy organic, 100% pure lemon juice, with no preservatives.
Most of these brands I found are not from concentrate, but they ARE all pasteurized. They also tend to be more expensive than other varieties. The least expensive option I found was $4.50 for a 16 oz bottle, compared to around $2, for a cheap bottle of the “toxic” stuff.
The better option is to buy whole lemons and squeeze them yourself. Prices will always vary, but I can get about 6 lemons for $2.50. It’s hard to say how many lemons a bottle of juice is equivalent to. From my calculations, most brands with the added preservatives are less expensive than fresh lemons, while some of the pure, organic brands are MORE expensive than fresh lemons.
I drink lemon water most mornings, since it helps to balance the ph of your stomach, not to mention other health benefits. I don’t like the idea of also ingesting potentially harmful substances in the process.
Then there’s the taste factor. Nothing beats freshly squeezed juice, and I would like to fully enjoy my mug of lemon water. 🙂
Since pasteurization kills the beneficial vitamin C, even the pure bottled juices are not as healthy as freshly squeezed.
In my opinion, buying fresh lemons is worth it, especially if you’re drinking the juice daily. I have since thrown out my own bottle of lemon juice (though I may eventually buy another one for cleaning purposes ;)).
If you have to have a ready-made bottle of juice on hand, at least invest in a bottle of 100%, PURE juice.
- You can keep the cost down by purchasing a whole bag of lemons. If you can’t use that many before they spoil, it works great to cut in halves or quarters, and freeze for future use. Or, squeeze the bag of them at one time, and freeze the juice in ice cube trays, letting the cubes thaw as needed.
- Don’t forget to grate the peels for fresh lemon zest, which can be dried and/or frozen as well.
- If you drink lemon water frequently, and are worried about it wearing away your tooth enamel, here are some tips for preventing that.