You could have had a V8, but is V8 good for you or is it another example of creative marketing making people think a processed food is healthy? Most of us don’t get nearly enough vegetables in our daily diets, so the idea of reaching for a bottle of tomato juice to alleviate our guilt is a very attractive prospect. Still, marketing has been wrong (or misleading) when it comes to healthy products in the past, so let’s put V8 under the microscope and see whether or not it is really as healthy as advertising suggests.
What Goes Into A Bottle of V8?
Let’s start by checking the ingredient list on a bottle of original V8 and check for high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and other offensive ingredients:
RECONSTITUTED VEGETABLE JUICE BLEND (WATER AND CONCENTRATED JUICES OF TOMATOES, CARROTS, CELERY, BEETS, PARSLEY, LETTUCE, WATERCRESS, SPINACH), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: SALT, VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID), NATURAL FLAVORING, CITRIC ACID.
The first thing to note is that there is no added sugar. This should be your first concern whenever you buy any bottle of juice. Most juices on the market are so loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other sugars that you lose the true flavor of the fruit. This isn’t the case here, so we’re safe to move on to the nutrition label.
V8 Nutrition Breakdown
Here is the nutrition label from a bottle of original V8 tomato juice:
Most of this looks perfectly fine. There aren’t a huge number of calories, there isn’t much added sugar, there is no fat or cholesterol, the ascorbic acid gives us a bunch of vitamin C…but take a look at the sodium.
A single 8 ounce serving of V8 original contains a whopping 420 mg of sodium. There are plenty of TV dinners out there that don’t have that much sodium. V8 Low Sodium, on the other hand, replaces a large portion of that sodium with the salt substitute potassium chloride, which lowers the sodium level to a less offensive 140 mg.
For years, we’ve seen commercials for V8 in which a lazy, carnivorous diner (generally male) loads up on meat and cheese in lieu of vegetables, then gets bopped on the head for skipping the vegetation. A helpful narrator chimes in saying, “Could have had a V8,” which aims V8 directly at people who either don’t like vegetables or don’t want to take the time for vegetables.
I definitely understand the allure of these commercials. When I was younger, I couldn’t stand any vegetables that didn’t come in potato or ketchup form, and now that I’m older and realize the importance of a balanced diet, don’t always have the time to cook a healthy meal. The idea that I can pour myself a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary and get my daily veg in seems like a dream come true.
Unfortunately, there always comes a time when the sleeper must awaken (sorry, couldn’t resist the Dune quote).
Is V8 Splash Good For You?
V8 Splash is an offshoot of the main V8 brand that is based on fruit juice rather than the standard tomato juice (yes, I know tomato is also a fruit). Most people associate the V8 name with health, so the idea is that they are supposed to be a healthier juice alternative to the rest of the bottled juices on the market. So, what goes into a bottle of V8 Splash (Berry Blend)?
WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, RECONSTITUTED VEGETABLE JUICE (WATER AND CONCENTRATED JUICE OF CARROTS), RECONSTITUTED FRUIT JUICE (WATER AND CONCENTRATED JUICE OF APPLES, CHERRIES, STRAWBERRIES, RED RASPBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: NATURAL FLAVORING, CITRIC ACID, MALIC ACID, VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID), VITAMIN E (ALPHA TOCOPHEROL ACETATE), RED 40, BETA CAROTENE, SUCRALOSE.
Look at the second ingredient in that list. The number two ingredient in V8 Splash is the infamous high fructose corn syrup. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I need to know to pass it by. There may be fruit and vegetable juice in there, but there’s still more sugar in that bottle.
Is V8 Good For You?: Final Verdict
Is V8 really good for you? It’s hard to definitively say yes. Since the juices are from concentrate, we already know that the number one ingredient in V8 is water and much of the original fiber from the vegetables was removed during the manufacturing process. Since the juice is then pasteurized, the healthy enzymes and some of the vitamins and minerals have been destroyed. Take that in concert with the fact that unless you buy the low sodium V8, you are drinking 20% of your daily sodium in a small glass, and it gets harder and harder to recommend V8 as a healthy beverage.
What it comes down to is that the idea of a fiber and nutrient rich vegetable drink is a healthy one, and I fully support taking matters into your hands and making your own homemade V8 alternative at home. While it is no substitute for your daily vegetables, you can still create a healthy, tasty beverage (or Bloody Mary base) on your own. When it comes to store-bought juice, however, is V8 healthy? Stick to the low sodium version and you’ll be okay as long as you don’t use it as a vegetable replacement, but you’ll be much better off making your own.
Have you ever made your own vegetable juice blends at home? Share your experiences in the comments below.