V8 Vegetable Juice – Twice the Salt of McD’s French Fries

From Fooducate reader Luke: “My question has to do with V8 (the original, or the spicy hot version of the original). Avoid? OK to buy? Please help!”

We certainly can understand the confusion. Just take a look at V8′s marketing messages on each and every bottle:

“Essential Antioxidants”

“Heart Healthy”

Heart Check Endorsement from the American Heart Association

“100% Vegetable Juice”

Reads as if  we should be drinking gallons a day…

What you need to know:

Let’s begin with V8′s claims that it is “100% Vegetable Juice”. Too bad their website does not include the ingredient list. Is there something to hide? We found the ingredient elsewhere, and reading it, one can see that, true, all the juice is from vegetables, but there are added ingredients. Here’s the list:

Tomato Juice From Concentrate (Water, Tomato Concentrate), Reconstituted Vegetable Juice Blend (Water and Concentrated Juices of Carrots, Celery, Beets, Parsley, Lettuce, Watercress, Spinach), Salt, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Flavoring, Citric Acid.

The number 1 addition is water! Notice that V8 is from concentrate. This means that the veggies were at one point juiced, but for logistical purposes, the water content was removed. (Same thing happens with orange juice). So you’re not getting freshly juiced vegetables. For all we know the veggies have been stored in refrigerated vats as concentrate for months.

Interesting addition to the list are the salt, vitamin C, and flavorings. A single glass of V8 contains 480mg of sodium, or 20% (!!!) of the daily maximum. Compare to 135mg for a small McDonald’s French Fries, or 290mg for a medium.

Why so much salt you ask? Because it tastes good. There’s a low sodium option with only 140mg, and after you taste it, you’ll understand. But could there be a middle ground, or some attempt to slowly reduce the salt content over time?

The added vitamin C is worth mentioning too. Why would a vitamin rich juice need any additions? Well, vitamin C is one of the mot volatile micronutrients, in a sense that it easily and quickly “evaporates” from fruits and vegetables the moment they are exposed to oxygen. So food processors simply add more. V8 adds a lot more – it contains 120% of the daily value.

The added flavorings are always a riddle. They are trade secrets, and are usually crafted to make a product smell and taste better. So is V8′s great taste to be attributed to the natural veggies, or some laboratory in New Jersey? Most likely a mix of both.

A glance at the nutrition panel shows only 2 grams of fiber, which is really low considering all the fiber rich vegetables that went into the juice. But that’s what happens when you turn a solid into a liquid – lots of the fibrous content is discarded. The sugar count is 8 grams (2 teaspoons), but none has been added, it’s all from the vegetables themselves.

What about the calories? a glass of V8 will set you back only 50 calories. Compare to a glass of orange juice with 120 calories, or soda pop with 90.

As for the other marketing claims – shame on the American Heart Association for endorsing this product. High sodium intake leads to heart problems, and the AHA is actively encouraging people to reduce their consumption. From the AHA website:

 

High-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Reducing the amount of sodium you consume can help lower high blood pressure or prevent it from developing in the first place. Keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels is important, because high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks or stroke.

The American Heart Association recommends that you choose and prepare foods with little or no salt to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Aim to eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

 

So why in the world would the AHA recommend a product that with once glass reached a third of the daily maximum? (hint: Campbell’s, the owner of V8 brand, pays the AHA a hefty sum for each product endorsed.)

As for the “Essential Antioxidants” blurb, it has absolutely no meaning, no way to be verified, and unfortunately misguides shoppers.

Bottom line: V8 may not as bad as soda, but is a far cry from a daily, nurturing habit. The high sodium content is very worrying, and from a veggie perspective, you are better off consuming the real deal, fiber and other fresh nutrients included.

What to do at the supermarket:

As an occasional treat, juice and even soda can be OK. But make it a habit to avoid the beverage aisles at the supermarket. Drink tap water. Save money. Save the earth. And save your “discretionary calorie” allocation for a really decadent dessert…

[Update: See V8's response in the comments below. What do you think?]

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  • http://foodsheal.com DrBillDean

    Forget the NaCl energetically no one should be drinking this :)

  • Kirk Fontenot

    What about Low Sodium V-8?

    • compmaster

      What about it.

      • Byoung66

        Just about anyone transitioning from a diet of 2400mg to a diet of less than 1500 mg will lose very close to 10lbs within a month. Try it….you’ll like it.

  • http://www.campbellsoup.com Juli Mandel Sloves

    I wanted to respond on behalf of Campbell Soup Company, the makers of V8. Sodium reduction is our top priority and we have made great advancements in offering great-tasting foods that are lower in sodium. In just the past three years, we have lowered the sodium in V8 not once, but twice. It is now at 420 mg sodium/serving, and meets the criteria designated by the government for healthy foods. We also lowered the sodium in our Spicy Hot V8 juice so that the whole line is now at healthy sodium levels. Low Sodium V8 is another option at 140 mg sodium/serving and its the fastest growing part of our portfolio. When you consider that 7 out of 10 people don’t meet the government recommendations for vegetable servings, V8 can be a great way to get more vegetables in the diet — not as a replacement for, but in addition to eating fresh and frozen vegetables.

    The reason the juice is made from concentrate is that we grow 90% of our tomatoes and the 7 other vegetables in V8 between July and October. So we bring them directly from the fields to our paste facilities to concentrate the juices and this enables us make V8 juices throughout the year.

    • leo

      I am currenly looking at the ingredients on v8 vegetable juice essential antioxidants and it say in the ingredients 480mg sodium per serving.

      • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

        So does the company website!

        • major7

          Not any more it doesn’t.

          • Joe

            No- now it’s 650mg per serving.

          • Alex

            The new world order has recently been pressuring corporations to increase the rate of population control. Next year will be over 900mg of sodium to ensure higher rates of heart attack and strokes.

    • dfwenigma

      Juli I’m glad the industry is responding. But here is my take: food producers simply add far too much salt PERIOD. Salt is a natural, cheap preservative. It also enhances flavor – but then so do other things that we know are bad for us. Today consumers are more conscious and better educated than ever about our food sources. In my opinion the Federal government should forbid the use of salt as a preservative and limit endorsements of products that include so much salt. People don’t make foods anymore so you the vendors are “it”. “Trying” to lower the amount of salt is a cheap ploy. Eliminate salt from your products and replace it with wholesome, natural ingredients that are good for us. Come clean on additives and preservatives. And start creating biodegradable packaging that actually does what additives and preservatives are supposed to do: make food more palatable, safe and enjoyable. What we get out of a V-8 bottle should be what we’d get out of a food juicer if we had the time, money and inclination plus safe, natural ingredients that don’t ruin our health. That should be true of all Campbell’s products and we know it’s not. But be certain Campbell’s isn’t alone. Your industry controls the FDA and the Department of Agriculture. Fortunately for us the Consumer Protection Agency has some teeth. Maybe a few visible lawsuits will cause food makers to re-evaluate their business models.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=38714116 FishscaleBoy Run C

      I’ll tell you what, this 980mg of sodium in the 12 fl oz bottle of V8 cant be healthy. 41% of the daily value of sodium in one small drink???? Oh no

      • Craig

        But if thats all the salt you are getting all day its still not enough! Duh?

        • FishscaleBoy Run C

          Now would have made such a statement if all the salt I consumed in on a daily basis came from a fuckin drink shit head!!?? No I wouldn’t. Duh..asshole

    • Assika126

      Juli,

      Thanks for your response. Could you tell me if V8 has MSG or derivatives in it? I have a medical condition where MSG gives me bad diarrhea for about a week. I used to love V8, so I bought some at the store. Before I had a chance to drink it, I got ‘tomato juice’ at a bar . I had a bad reaction to it and now I’m scared to drink my V8. I know tomato juice has some natural glutamic acid but I do NOT react
      to plain tomato juice. I believe based on the taste that it was V8
      which caused the reaction at the bar. Can you give me a yes/no answer to whether MSG or similar compounds have been added to V8?

    • Banditgirl99

      Anything from campbells is a non food product if you have to add vitamins and minerals to your food and then can it and over process it then its NOT FOOD….. get back to making your own foods and stop feeding your body these toxic foods campbells, kelloges are all gmo products and worst kids homicide ever…

    • tom

      Whenever you say we meet government standards you lose.

  • Heidi

    I just think many products need sodium adjustment.. not to the extend of low sodium (which in some products can be almost tasteless) but many products contain so much that all you taste is salt.

    • Chris mall

      If you don’t like v8 for whatever reason high sodium or whatever then don’t freakin drink it. We sure dont need the government telling us what to eat and drink . Think for your selves people. Geez. Leave everyone alone.

  • http://www.whosmydaddy.wordpress.com Cassie

    @Juli Mandel Sloves I see your point, Juli, but something’s got to give. Sometimes it’s just that people don’t eat fresh veggies because this product is available. They figure it’s easier…but that’s just my take.

  • terri bella

    Att: Campbell soup in response to why your product uses concentrate
    Your response: because the vegetables that are in it are not in season all year long so you make the concentrate so year long production is possible

    My response as a nutritional science student and green citizen: How about just eating the fresh vegetables that are in season instead of V8

  • Bruce

    “…some laboratory in New Jersey”
    Hey! You got a problem with New Jersey?!

    PS: The maximum allowed sodium in the criteria for “healthy” was lowered to 360 mg in 1998, but industry lobbying resulted in it being raised back to 480 mg in 2005.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Editorial Staff

      @Bruce, no problem with NJ, grew up in Bergen County :-) . It’s just that several big food flavoring companies call the state home…

  • http://www.palateworks.com Carol

    “Essential Antioxidants” is called an implied nutrient content claim. An antioxidant claim is allowed when the product contains at least a “good source” (i.e., at least 10% of DV) of any antioxidant for which there is an RDI established (read: vitamin A, C, E or Selenium). So, on that point, all the V-8s meet the bill (all contain at least 10% of DV for vitamins A and C). However, such a claim also requires some fine (but not too fine) print:
    “The names of the nutrients that are the antioxidants must appear in the claim. For example, ‘high in antioxidant vitamins C and E’” or, the claim headline must be linked by a symbol/asterisk “to the same symbol that appears ELSEWHERE ON THE SAME PANEL of a product label followed by the name or names of the nutrients….” 21 CFR 101.54(g)(4) (emphasis added with CAPS).
    I can’t tell if they’ve done this correctly from the small resolution image on their site.

  • http://www.palateworks.com Carol

    “…some laboratory in New Jersey”
    Hey! You got a problem with New Jersey?!
    -Bruce

    PS: The maximum sodium allowed for a “healthy” claim was reduced to 360 mg in 1998, but industry lobbying resulted in it being raised back to 480 mg in 2005.

  • c

    @Editorial Staff
    at least they smell better than pharmaceutical companies, like the one that was in my NJ university’s backyard :-}

  • http://www.stellareaats.blogspot.com christellar

    Interesting!
    It’s worth noting that the Canadian label lists all ingredients: and legally cannot list the claim “100% vegetable juice” if any ingredient comes from concentrate.

    I love V8 and i like this article because it notes the fact that the consumer should always be aware of sodium intake!

    I also enjoy the “High Fibre” version :D

  • http://www.stellareaats.blogspot.com christellar

    @christellar
    also worth noting canadian site:
    http://campbellsoup.ca/en/products/family.asp?fam=13&prod_id=292

    and that “antioxidant” claims aren’t allowed on any Canadian Food products according to CFIA regulations :)

  • http://rebeccassite.net Rebecca

    You bet, cuz juice os alright in moderation

  • clc7

    This recent article from CSPI’s Nutrition Action Health Letter has some more info on the subject of V8:

    http://www.cspinet.org/nah/articles/overratedfoods.html

    Thanks for doing what you do! :)

  • SMITHRALPH8

    I DON’T CARE WHAT IS SAID ABOUT ANYTHING TARNISHING V8. I LOVE THE STUFF AND I HAVE 32 QT. BOTTLES STORED IN MY HOME AS I WRITE AND I PLAN TO GET MORE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS GOOD AND GOOD FOR YOU.

    • responder

      Typing in caps doesn’t make you more right, it just makes it easier for others to see when you are wrong…

  • Merrill

    Thank you for this very useful article. I don’t eat enough fresh vegetables, and had been swayed by the commercial saying that V8 is equivalent to two helpings of vegetables. I was amazed to find out how much sodium is contained in V8 (600 mg in the can I just drank). I notice that the can also contains 670 mg of potassium!

    Thank you also to the reader who pointed out that industry lobbyists succeeded during the Bush administration in getting the allowable amount of salt in a “healthy” portion raised by 33% over the limit set during the Clinton administration. It is yet another reminder, if 2008 wasn’t enough, hat politicians who advocate less oversight of industry are not acting in our best interest.

  • Dsxds02

    We want to know where the vegetables come from that go into V8?  It doesn’t state anything on the label.

  • kirke

    Can of coke or V8 juice? i know what one i’ll choose!!!

  • Charles Frasier

    I have had a glass of V8 every day for several years,since I dont ea any veggies.  Now I am having a problem with excess gas.  Could the V8 be the cause?

    • HighTaxes1

      That was funny!

  • Wood7079

    If you follow this simple concept from NY Times food editor Mark Bitman then you will not go wrong. “Eat food, ….not too much!

  • Bubba

    There’s a side-by-side comparison of sodium content with McD’s french fries, but why not a complete comparison with the rest of the nutritional value? It’s easy to make something look good (or bad) when comparing a single facet instead of going with the entirety of the information.

    • HighTaxes1

      You could look it up online on McD’s site. A SMALL french fry has 230 calories, 160 mg sodium, 1.5 g sat fat, 3 g fiber. Hey, a small one isn’t really all that bad!

  • HighTaxes1

    I prefer the taste of Low Sodium V-8 over the high-sodium version. I actually wish Campbell’s would significantly REDUCE the 140 mg of sodium in the 8 oz serving. I tried a store brand (Stop&Shop) equivalent; its label also stated 140 mg/serving of 8 oz, but the salt taste was overwhelming in the S&S generic. I assume S&S is putting in double what the label states.

  • Joe

    The new “Original” V-8 juice has 650mg of sodium per serving!!!!

  • http://hoverspot.com/blog.php?userId=989817 Mike Won

    The absence of the word ‘organic’ means poisons are included in the price!

  • Contexx

    Has the author read the recent Institute of Medicine ‘s review of clinical study of sodium intake? Maybe he should and revise his rebuke of V-8.

  • Brownielox

    I understand that it’s always healthier to eat the actual vegetables themselves. But to get the same vitamins A and C value that V8 has, you’d have to eat a LOT of vegetables. And for some people, drinking them in a beverage is a heck of a lot easier than eating them in solid form. I think it’s very nice that all of those vitamins are packed into one cup, not a huge plateful of solid foods. Also, it costs less to buy one can of V8 than it does to buy all the vegetables necessary to have the same amount of vitamins. For a poor college student – V8 is a lifesaver. Yes, the sodium content is a lot, and I do agree that the sodium should be lowered to a level somewhere between the 920 mg and the 480. If people are smart and drink lots of water and make sure their sodium is lower in other foods they eat that day, they’ll be fine.

  • Feeling Salty

    I was disgusted to find that the V8 original I just drank contains 980mg/1bottle (12 FL. OZ) 980!!! that is 41% of my daily value on a beverage. this is an older post but I thought I would update. Obviously they have increased the salt over the years…

  • lang

    they lowered the sodium on the regular so they could get our totalitarian government’s stamp that it is heart healthy, even though sodium does NOT cause everyone problems…..at 480mg per serving, it tasted like crap, and i switched to regulare tomato juice which has around 600mg per serving….i guess me and enough people complained cause they moved it back up to 600mg and simply do not have the heart emblem on their regular product…good for them! and good for us, the fans of good tasting V8! come on, they provide a low sodium for those who need or the people who blindly believe sodium is evil, so don’t complain that the good high sodium is available…..why is it some people want EVERYONE to have yucky tasting food like they eat? if you can get your yucky food, please dont be upset at me for being able to get good tasting food!

  • Craig

    We actually need salt to survive. As long as you are counting your daily intake of salt who cares how much this product has? BTW, Did you know that too little salt is worse for you than too much? For a juice this has a decent amount of fiber as well as the two servings of veggies. You liberal tree huggers need to stop telling others what they should and should not be eating and mind your own business.

  • Banditgirl99

    Table salt is bad but we need sea salts to help in digestion, alkaline your body with baking soda sea salts and other minerals and this will help with inflammation forming disease… do no use table salt it was boiled and over processes.. acid vs alkaline do your research..

  • maddie

    Don’t drink tap water! The chemicals being released into ground water through fracking practices are horrible, always always always drink filtered.