In our race to good health and smart life choices, it might be tempting to grab a bottle of “healthy” juice from the store instead of making your own each morning. While V8 Fusion seems like a good choice from all their advertising, I wanted to know the real story, so I asked and found answers to the hard question so you didn’t have to.
Is V8 Fusion healthy? No. Commercial juices often have added sugars and preservatives which can equal those found in sodas and other unhealthy drinks. V8 Fusion Strawberry Banana, for example, has 35 grams of sugars, while a can of Sprite soda has 38 grams.
You already know I’m going to say there’s a lot more to this answer than that paragraph. That’s why you read my stuff, after all. Buckle up, folks. I’m about to throw some health science your way. So, put down that V8 Fusion and get ready to chuck it in disgust.
V8 Fusion health facts
People who make this stuff want you to believe it’s healthier than soda. But is it really? I’m not about to tell you what to drink, but I think this stuff is garbage spiked with sugar and questionable ingredients. You don’t need to take my word for it. In fact, I’d be happier if you didn’t just believe me.
That’s why I’m here with the facts. Literally. I have the nutrition facts for V8 Fusion right in front of me. Specifically, the strawberry banana flavor, which appears to be one of the most popular ones.
Serving size says “one bottle”, which is not very informative. I had to go look for pictures of the actual bottle to see how much was in one bottle. It’s 12 ounces. So, one serving is 12 ounces.
There are 160 calories in 12 ounces of V8 Fusion. That’s not too bad, right? Wrong.
In that 160 calories you’re getting 0 potassium and 0 fiber, but 105 mg of sodium and 40 grams of carbohydrates. They list sugars as 35 grams.
It gets worse. The ingredients are: reconstituted vegetable juice blend (Water and concentrated juices of sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, beets), reconstituted fruit juice blend (Water and concentrated juices of white grapes, apples, strawberries, bananas), contains less than 2% of: Natural flavoring (Orange), banana puree, vitamin C (Ascorbic acid), malic acid, citric acid, vitamin E (Alpha tocopherol acetate).
Can you say yummy? Please don’t. That list is disgusting!
So, this “100% juice” is made of juice concentrates, not fresh-squeezed fruits and veggies like you’d do at home. In their defense, they never claimed it was fresh, but they didn’t have to. Their tricky labeling makes consumers believe it’s going to be fresh and healthy because it says “100% juice” on it. If they were being honest, it would say “made from 100% juice concentrate”.
I want to know if they even know what’s in the juice concentrates they use. More importantly, why don’t they tell us, the consumers, exactly what’s in those juice concentrates?
The answer is simple. They don’t want you to know just how bad this juice is because then you wouldn’t buy it. But you’re smarter than that, and so am I.
It’s about control
Listen, I know it’s easier to grab a bottle of V8 Fusion from the store shelves than it is to make your own juice in the morning. But is it better? I don’t think so. In fact, I believe it’s infinitely worse. Worse for you and worse for the environment.
Think about how you choose the fruits and vegetables you put into your daily juice. You pick the exact ones you want, in the amounts you prefer, and you know exactly where they came from. You choose what additives, if any, go into your juice. If you’re lucky enough to have locally-sourced produce, you may even know the people who grew your food personally!
Can you say the same about V8 Fusion? How many people do you think had their hands on the fruits and veggies in that juice? How many machines did the ingredients pass through? How many miles did the concentrates have to travel to get to the V8 plant? And how many more people had a hand in getting the final product to your table? Do you know any of their names? Do you know where any of these ingredients were grown? Processed?
At the expense of sounding like a paranoid weirdo, I don’t trust commercial juice makers. Just because they list something on the label it doesn’t mean that’s all that’s in the juice. Heck, we might not even understand what we’re reading, and it’s not because consumers are dumb.
The hidden, scary truth of V8 Fusion
It’s no secret that the food industry is sneaky and has a bunch of loopholes. They have 61 different names for sugar that food companies can put on food labels. Not only that, but food manufacturers are only required to list total sugar (in whatever names they choose), but not whether it’s added sugar or naturally occurring sugars.
We have no idea what we’re drinking, folks!
So much sugar
Did you know that the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends under 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day for men, 6 for women, and 3-6 for kids? If food manufacturers aren’t required to tell us how much of the sugar on their labels are “added sugars” how the heck are we supposed to know how much we’re consuming?
We aren’t, and that is exactly how food companies want it to be. You see, sugar is addictive. Food companies sneak sugar into everything, even supposedly “healthy” foods and drinks. Consumers are inadvertently consuming tons of added sugars, slowly feeding the addiction.
The only foods that haven’t been laced with added sugars are the fresh fruits and veggies you put into your freshly-juiced or blended drinks each morning!
But there’s more. This is an important point, so please don’t skip it.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that a bottle of V8 Fusion has 35 grams of sugars? Notice it’s in grams and not teaspoons. The AHA has its sugar recommendations and warnings in teaspoons. That’s not an accident, people.
So, let me break this down for you since Campbell, the manufacturer of V8 Fusion, is being sneaky.
35 grams of sugars is equal to 8.4 teaspoons. If that’s added sugar, that’s 2.4 teaspoons higher than the recommended amount for women in just one serving of V8 Fusion’s supposedly healthy drink!
But since it’s not required for V8 Fusion to specify whether their 35 grams of sugars are added or natural, we might never have known. However, they did state it on the front of the bottle “no added sugar”.
So why am I still mad?
Where did the sugar come from?
I can break this down for you further because that’s just the kind of person I am. The thing is, the bottle only says they didn’t add any sugar. What about the company they got the ingredients from?
Remember that the ingredient list for V8 Fusion doesn’t list a single fresh veggie or fruit. It’s all listed as “reconstituted juice blends” which is fancy talk for concentrates. You know, that goopy, sloppy, nasty stuff that’s been highly processed and shoved into cans in the freezer section.
The truth is, just looking at the bottle, we don’t know where those concentrates came from. V8 Fusion’s manufacturers are not required to divulge anything about the concentrates themselves. They could be loaded with sugars, colors, preservatives, or other additives.
As consumers, once again, we have no idea what we’re drinking. I don’t know about you, but that makes my stomach turn. There are 35 grams of sugar in one 12 ounce serving. . . but where the heck did that sugar come from?
A word on natural flavors
Just as ominous as the “reconstituted” ingredients is the inclusion of “natural flavors” in V8 Fusion. Did you know that these can literally be anything derived from natural sources? I don’t want to go too far off course here, but suffice it to say that “natural flavors” in your juice may not be what you’re expecting. The FDA doesn’t require food manufacturers to list exactly what those natural flavors are, so we’re left in dark again.
Here’s some more information on natural flavors, if you’re interested.
Health concerns of V8 Fusion
You know what’s listed on the label, and you now question what’s hidden in each bottle that the manufacturers aren’t compelled to divulge. But what does that mean for your body?
Well, the sugar issue is the most pressing one. Too much sugar is bad for you. It’s addictive and dangerous. Since there’s so much in just one serving of V8 Fusion, that doesn’t leave much (or any!) room for the added sugars in the rest of your food for the day.
Some people have reported loose stools and intestinal discomfort after drinking V8 Fusion. Whether this is because of the juice or another ingredient in the concentrates used in the juice, we may never know. Just be aware that this is a possibility.
There’s also the problem of missing fiber. While fiber can be an issue for anyone on a heavy juice diet, V8 Fusion really downplays this point. NO matter the kind of juice you drink (commercial or freshly made) you need to be sure to add fiber back into your diet to make up for the missing fiber in juices. For home juicing, that’s a very simple process. For commercial juices, your options are limited.
Is V8 actually good for you? The original V8 isn’t terrible for you, but it’s not as healthy as whole vegetables or home-juiced vegetables.
Is V8 low sodium good for you? This version of V8 is better for you than the original or V8 Fusion. It has much lower sodium than the original and less sugar than Fusion. It’s still better to juice or blend your own drinks or simply eat fresh veggies.
Short of doing a ton of research into how many grams of sugar are in each fresh version of every ingredient in V8 Fusion’s drinks, we’ll probably never really know what’s in there. And even if we did do all that research, we still don’t know for sure because we’re not entitled to the recipe to know exactly how much of everything is in there.
The bottom line is that any commercial juice that screams about being “100% juice” and healthy is probably a big fat liar. Until the day these companies divulge every last detail of every single ingredient, and until they can tell me where all this sugar is coming from, I won’t trust them. You can drink whatever you want, but I’m sticking to my fresh smoothies from locally-sourced ingredients.