Are Minute Maid “Brain Juice” Commercials Misleading? [Inside the Label]

Minute Maid, a subsidiary of the Coca Cola Company best known for its lines of fruit juices, has been reprimanded, albeit lightly, by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB). NAD found that commercials for it’s “Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored 100% Juice Blend” made memory boosting claims which are not scientifically supported.

The commercials (see above an example) are actually quite cute, but are they truthful? And what exactly is in this confusingly-long-and-hard-to-remember-product-name blend?

What you need to know:

NAD is not a government body, but it has earned the respect of both industry and consumers by helping company’s fix mistakes when their national ad campaigns may be inaccurate or mislead consumers. The organization agreed with the company’s claim that the drink nourishes brain health, due to the presence of DHA (see below). It did not think a brain boosting attribute could be affixed to the juice.

Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored 100% Juice Blend is comprised of:

Apple, Grape, and Pomegranate Juices from Concentrate, Fruit and Vegetable Juices (for color), Blueberry Juice from Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Raspberry Juice from Concentrate, Modified Gum Acacia, DHA Algal Oil, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Citric Acid (Provides Tartness), Choline Bitartrate, Vitamin E, Soy Lecithin, Vitamin B12.

You can be sure that most of the juice you’ll be getting ia apple and grape juice. They are naturally very sweet and make great juice. All other fruits are much harder to turn into a juice without adding sugar. Happily there are no artificial colorings, and other juices are used to create the right shade of purple for this drink. The Gum Acacia (E414) is a natural gum from the sap of an acacia tree and is used as a stabilizer or emulsifier (the juice is a bit more viscous than it would have been naturally).

The DHA Algal Oil is what’s supposed to make your brain tick better. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid. Sources include fish, but also, as in this drink, algae. DHA is found abundantly in the human brain. People with Alzheimer’s disease have low levels of DHA.

The added vitamins are always nice to have, but really not necessary, as people get sufficient amounts if they eat food. Choline, for example, is plentiful in egg yolks, soy, and wheat germ, as well as liver. The added soy lecithin mentioned above, an extract of soybean oil, is also high in choline.

The nutrition panel advises of 120 calories per 8 fl oz (cup), ALL of them from the 29 grams of sugar (7 teaspoons) naturally found in the fruits comprising the juice. Unfortunately for you, the fibers originally found in the fruit are entirely absent. Eating the equivalent amount of fruit would leave you much more satiated.

So will this juice improve your mental capabilites? Don’t hold your breath.

What to do at the supermarket:

Though better than carbonated soft drinks, juices are very high in sugar and low in fiber. If you can drink water and eat real fruit, you’ll be getting a better nutrition deal. If that’s too difficult, this juice is a better alternative to soft drinks.

Help us test our new food comparison tool:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  • Dr. Susan Rubin

    DHA is the new “oat bran”…..a wonder nutrient that enables a company like Coca Cola to attach all sorts of health claims to.
    Why not eat a handful of walnuts instead? would probably be much better for people’s triglyceride levels than a super sweet juice.

    Speaking of calories, how about the amount of calories it takes to get these food products to your table?
    If we added that carbon footprint (or carbon foodprint) into the equation, I’m betting that a local apple along with that handful of walnuts (who travel further to your plate) would make more sense than Coca Cola’s newly concocted juice!

  • annie avery

    bing, bing, bing; the bells go off each time i see “soy lecithin”!! read: GMO!!! just sayin’. Dr, susan, i concur on your last sentence.

  • Tony

    Dr. Rubin,

    Walnuts are a source of ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), a shorter chain omega-3 fatty. ALA serves as a source of energy for the body and as a building block for DHA and EPA. You would not get the same “bang for your buck” with ALA. The ALA to DHA conversion rate is VERY poor. In fact, the body converts only 5-10% of ALA to EPA and less than 1% of ALA is converted to DHA. DHA, a long chain omega-3 fatty acid, is the most abundant omega-3 in the brain and retina. DHA is an important structural component of the nerve cells in the brain and eyes and a key component of heart tissue. For more information on the benefites of DHA, please go to


    • staff


      a quick look at your company’s (Martek) website and we get a long list of processed foods with added DHA.
      It would be a great service to the public if your website could list unprocessed foods that are naturally abundant in DHA.