To Juice or Not to Juice?

Juicing has been a popular health craze in recent days.  And like any other health trend or fad diet, juicing too has its benefits but also has its flaws.  Like most things in life, it’s all about moderation and what makes the most sense for your personal diet and lifestyle so let’s explore some of the benefits and cons of juicing.

What is Juicing?

juicer

Juicing is a method that extracts liquid nutrition from fruits and vegetables, leaving the pulp (fibrous part) behind.  This is different from blending which emulsifies and mashes up the ingredients to a thick liquid.

Benefits of Juicing: 

juice

Source: juicing4you.com

1. Juicing can help increase your fruit and vegetable intake.   Half of all Americans don’t even eat two servings of fruits and vegetables a day, while the recommended serving is at least 5 cups per day.  For those that don’t get close to the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day, juicing can be a great way to add lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet fairly quickly and efficiently.  Plus, people who find it hard to eat lots of fruits and vegetables either because of taste of time might have a much easier time consuming the optimal amount through juicing– so if that’s you juicing can be very beneficial to you.

2.    Juicing can help add a wider variety of fruits and veggies in your diet. Juicing vegetables with fruits disguises the taste and is a great way to incorporate new fruits and vegetables in your diet.  One glass of juice could incorporate vitamins and minerals from an entire stalk of kale, a whole cucumber, parsley, several carrots, an apple and more as an example.  And it’s easy to sneak in things like spinach, celery, and herbs without noticing it.

3.    Juicing can help prevent food waste.  Fresh produce is the one food that gets wasted most in many households and juicing is a way to use those fruits and vegetables up efficiently just before they start to go bad.

Cons of Juicing: 

1. Not equal to whole fruits and veggies.   There is no sound scientific evidence that juicing is healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables, and in fact it is probably not as healthy as eating the equivalent in whole fruits and vegetables.  This is because while juice does contain most of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, it does lack the fiber found in them.  The reason fiber is healthy is that it helps lower cholesterol, it helps keep you fuller longer which prevents overeating, and it prevents as dramatic of a spike in blood sugar that often occurs from juices that contain a concentrated amount of natural sugars.  Additionally, some juices are much higher than you think in sugars so can add unwanted calories so be sure to read the labels when you buy juices or if you make them do a combination of fruits and vegetables to minimize the sugar content and try pairing your juice with foods higher in fiber to prevent the spike in blood sugar levels.   

2. Risk of foodborne illness. Because juices contain a high amount of natural sugars, they can quickly develop harmful bacteria so its best to wash produce thoroughly prior to juicing and to drink immediately instead of storing.  And if you buy fresh juices, try to look for ones that have been pasteurized. Also, if juicing at home, be sure to wash your juicer with hot soapy water after each use. 

3. Needs to be consumed immediately– While juicing is a great way to get your antioxidants and vitamins for the day, it’s important to note that light and air destroys much of the antioxidants and enzymes that make juicing beneficial.  Thus, ideally, juices should be consumed immediately and not stored for later in order to reap maximum benefits from juicing.    

4. Juicing is Expensive.  Aside from needing to spend a few hundred dollars on buying a good juicer, the amount of fresh produce you need to make just one glass can add up quickly since juicing only extracts the liquid out of fruits and vegetables a lot of produce is required to make just one serving.  While this is a great way to pack in a lot of fruits and vegetables, it also gets expensive needing to use that much fresh produce just to get your servings of fruits and vegetables in.     

My Recommendations

Juicing can be a way to incorporate a lot of nutrients in your diet, particularly for those that don’t eat enough whole fruits and vegetables today.  If you do eat enough whole fruits and vegetables, there is no additional health benefit derived from juicing so you don’t need to go and buy a juicer just to be healthy.  But, if you enjoy juicing and don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables other ways, juicing can help you incorporate more nutrition into your diet.   If you do decide to juice, the main things to keep in mind about juicing is that:

  • Juices should not be mistaken for a meal (unless cleared by a doctor).  While juices provide a high amount of nutrients and minerals, it is not a meal replacement and should not be consumed as a meal but as a supplement to your healthy diet. While people on a juice diet do lose weight, the extreme lack of calories and macronutrients missing are detrimental in the long run and many often gain back the weight and more when they stop the diet.   
  • Juices should be consumed immediately to prevent loss of nutrition and risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Because the fiber is lost in the juicing process, it’s important to still consume some of your servings of fruits and vegetables through whole fruits and vegetables if you do decide to juice so you don’t lose out on the benefits of fiber. 

I personally like blending over juicing as it keeps more of the fiber intact and is still a way to pack extra servings of fruis and vegetables in my diet quickly.  However, blending usually requires adding some milk, juice, and/or yogurt so if you prefer the pure juice, juicing makes more sense for you, especially if done in moderation and within the guidelines I mentioned above.

juices

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