Known for its refreshing, vibrant flavor as well as its health benefits, cranberry juice is stocked on the shelves of both supermarkets and natural food stores. Rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidants, pure cranberry juice is a deep crimson red drink that packs plenty of nutritional punch. However, diligent consumers should read each label carefully.
The best cranberry juice or the healthiest cranberry juice is a matter of personal taste as well as a consideration of the ingredients. Cranberry juice brands may vary widely in the amount of added sugar to balance the berry's natural tartness as well as the use of organically farmed berries' preservatives, concentrates and blends.
1. Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice
A popular brand sold widely since 1930, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice has a name that represents an image of the New England cranberry bogs where much of America's berry crop is harvested. The manufacturer claims that no sugar is added and that the 28 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving indicated on the label is derived from the berry's natural fructose and glucose.
Ocean Spray also produces mixed fruit cranberry juices containing blackberry, cherry, strawberry, grape, mango, pomegranate, tangerine and apple. Try cranberry lime, white cranberry and organic cranberry drinks as well. Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice doesn't contain preservatives, so the company website advises keeping opened containers in the refrigerator to be consumed within two to three weeks.
2. Lakewood Pure Cranberry Juice
Lakewood is an independent, family-owned label, producing organic cranberry juice with no artificial sweeteners added since 1935. Sold vacuum packed in glass bottles, Lakewood Pure Cranberry Juice is free of preservatives and is also gluten free, with a label that indicates 80 calories and 9 grams of sugar per individual 8-ounce serving. Lakewood Pure Cranberry Juice doesn't contain any animal products or byproducts and is therefore considered vegan.
The juice is not from concentrate, cold pressed with Florida-grown fresh cranberries and it tastes best with added filtered water or mixed with another juice flavor. In addition to its pure cranberry juice, Lakewood also has cranberry blends such as apple, grape and pear.
3. Trader Joe's 100 Percent Cranberry Juice
Pucker up for this cranberry juice brand. "Not from concentrate," the label indicates. Trader Joe's produces its own tart version of cranberry juice that has "no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives." A second option is Trader Joe's Sparkling Cranberry Flavored Juice Blend, an alcohol-free fizzy drink aimed at purchase for special occasions.
The privately held, California-based grocery store chain has nearly 500 locations in 43 states where the juices may be sold. However, in keeping with Trader Joe's ethos, brands may come and go from the shelves according to consumer appetite and seasonality. So, there's no guarantee that a store location will have these two cranberry juice brands or continue to stock them after they've sold out.
4. R.W. Knudsen Just Cranberry
Publix, Target and Walmart shoppers are likely to be familiar with R.W. Knudsen Just Cranberry, a division of J.M. Smucker Company. Their cranberry juice is a non-GMO brand with no preservatives and no artificial flavors made from concentrate. Containing 70 calories per 8-ounce serving, this organic cranberry juice has 8 grams of sugar with no added sugar.
Sold in a glass jug, R.W. Knudsen produces a lineup of flavors to complement cranberries, such as tart cherry, black cherry, black currant, blueberry, pineapple, pomegranate, grape and prune. Combine them at home for lots of variety.
5. Mott's Sensibles Apple Cranberry
With its roots in the apple business since 1842, Mott's is now part of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. In 2018, a new label was introduced, Mott's Sensibles, aimed at the family market. In addition to packaging in 64-ounce bottles, the juice is sold in convenient 6-ounce pouches that kids can take along when they're on the go.
The apple-cranberry blend is juice from concentrate, non-GMO and gluten free. Each 8-ounce serving contains 90 calories and 18 grams of sugar. For a sweeter taste, Mott's uses coconut water and vegetable concentrate because these contain less natural sugar than apple juice concentrate.