Have you ever looked at the nutrition facts on a bottle of Naked™ juice? If you haven't, you might be surprised to learn just how much sugar is inside. For instance, a small 10 ounce bottle of Naked's Green Machine has a whopping 35 grams of sugar. Compare that with 10 ounces of Pepsi, which has 34 grams of sugar. That's right, some Naked juice smoothies contain more sugar than Pepsi.
I had a very strange moment at Costco recently (documented above with my fantastic photography skills) when I pulled a bottle of Naked™ juice off the shelf. I noticed that it somehow had no vitamin C or vitamin A, despite claiming to contain apple juice, banana puree, blackberry puree, and raspberry puree. How is that possible? I honestly have no idea. I'm no juice-tologist.
But when I started googling to figure out how Naked's Berry Blast™ could seemingly be little more than sugar water, I noticed something that was even more shocking: the staggering amount of sugar in so many different flavors of Naked juice.
Naked is owned by PepsiCo (named Brad's Drink Company in some alternate universe) and it's all right there on their website. All of Naked's most popular flavors — the ones you'll find lining the enormous coolers of stores like Costco — have an incredibly high amount of sugar.
Amount of sugar in 10 ounces of each product:
- Naked™ Orange Juice: 27 grams
- Naked™ Berry Blast: 32 grams
- Pepsi-Cola™: 34 grams
- Naked™ Green Machine: 35 grams
- Naked™ Mighty Mango: 35 grams
If we trust the Naked label, which says "no sugar added," then we'll have to assume all of that sugar was naturally occurring in these "juice smoothie" blends. But even if it's naturally occurring, does the average person realize how much sugar they're consuming in these beverages that are marketed as healthy alternatives to soda?
Last year Naked/PepsiCo paid $9 million to settle a class action lawsuit over its use of the term "all natural," which is essentially a meaningless marketing buzzphrase. The company no longer uses the term natural in its marketing. But looking at a bottle that says "pure fruit" and "NO SUGAR ADDED" in big, bold letters would certainly lead the average consumer to believe they're getting something moderately healthy.
The more depressing scandal seems to be the way that we've convinced ourselves that the alternatives like VitaminWater or Gatorade or even Naked juice are really that much more nutritious than soda. In many cases, they're not.
I'm far from a health nut. I drink soda, and eat more than my fair share of junk food. And I'm going to continue drinking Naked juice, just as I drink all kinds of things that aren't deemed particularly "healthy" by "doctors" who say I should "change" my "diet" and "exercise" habits.
But when I'm drinking juice, I'd like to think it's maybe a little healthier than a can of Pepsi. In some cases, it seems I may as well just eat a banana with my soda and I'll get about the same amount of nutritional value. Or maybe even more.
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Images: Sugar falling from a spoon file photo circa 1955 via Getty Images; 2014 photos of Naked juice at Costco by Matt Novak; Screenshots of Pepsi and Naked juice nutritional information via PepsiCo website