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Juicing: Good or bad?

A detailed look of juicing and its health effects

Juicing is the process of extracting juice from fruits and vegetables. This article comprehensively reviews the health benefits and potential risks of juicing.

Is it healthy?
Evidence-based
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Juicing: Good or bad?
Last updated on February 8, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on August 30, 2023.

Eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial for your well-being.

Juicing: Good or bad?

Certain kinds can even lower your chances of developing chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Juicing, which involves squeezing the juice out of fresh fruits and veggies, has gained much attention lately.

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People often juice to cleanse their systems or to get more nutrients into their diets.

While some say juicing helps your body absorb nutrients better, others argue it removes crucial nutrients like fiber.

This article takes an in-depth look at the pros and cons of juicing and its impact on your health.

In this article

What is juicing?

Juicing is the method of squeezing out the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables.

This process generally removes the bulk of the solid parts, like seeds and pulp, from the whole produce.

The juice you get retains many of the natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in the original fruits or vegetables.

Methods of juicing

There are different ways to juice, ranging from simple hand-squeezing to using electric juicers.

Two popular types of juicers are:

The nutritional value of the juice from both centrifugal and cold-press juicers is roughly the same.

Reasons for juicing

People generally juice for two main reasons:

Summary: Juicing is the process of extracting juice from fresh fruits and vegetables, which some people use for detoxification or as a dietary supplement.

Juicing is a convenient and efficient way to consume a multitude of essential nutrients

Many people struggle to get the nutrients they need just from their regular diets.

How much fruit should you eat per day?
Suggested read: How much fruit should you eat per day?

The nutritional content of the foods we eat has also diminished over time.

This decline is primarily because of how food is processed and the length of time it takes to move produce from the farm to your local store.

Environmental pollution and high levels of stress can also make your body need more of certain nutrients.

Fruits and veggies are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds that can help fend off diseases.

If you find it hard to eat enough fruits and vegetables daily, juicing can be a handy way to boost your consumption.

One study showed that people who added mixed fruit and vegetable juice to their diets for 14 weeks had improved levels of nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and folate.

Also, an analysis of 22 studies revealed that consuming juice made from fresh fruits and vegetables or powdered concentrates improved levels of crucial nutrients like folate, beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Summary: If you find it challenging to consume the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, juicing provides a convenient method to obtain various essential nutrients.

Can drinking fruit juice offer protection against diseases?

A good amount of research shows that whole fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of various diseases, but there’s less data specifically on fruit and vegetable juices.

The health perks of fruits and vegetables primarily come from their antioxidant and fiber content. Many antioxidants are actually attached to fiber and are released during digestion.

Consuming lots of fruits and vegetables has shown potential benefits in various health aspects. For instance, some juices like apples and pomegranates have been associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

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Drinking fruit and vegetable juices, or their concentrated forms, has also been shown to lower levels of homocysteine and markers of oxidative stress, both of which are good signs for heart health.

One significant study found a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people who consumed fruit and vegetable juices three or more times a week, compared to those who had them less than once a week.

This could be because of the high concentration of polyphenols in these juices, which are antioxidants present in plant foods that may protect brain cells.

However, more research is needed to understand the health impacts of fruit and vegetable juices fully.

Summary: Limited evidence suggests that drinking fruit and vegetable juice may lower the risk of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

Whole fruits and veggies are the better choice

Pro-juicing people often argue that juice is superior to whole fruits and vegetables because it’s easier for the body to absorb nutrients without the fiber.

However, there’s no scientific evidence to back this claim. You might need that fiber to benefit from the plant’s nutritional offerings.

For instance, antioxidants bound to fiber are lost when you juice, and these could be crucial for the full range of health benefits offered by whole fruits and vegetables.

Remarkably, up to 90% of fiber can be stripped away during juicing, depending on your machine. While some soluble fiber might remain, most of the insoluble fiber gets removed.

Why fiber is important

Consuming more fiber has been linked to lower risks of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Research indicates that specifically increasing your soluble fiber intake can improve both blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

One study that compared whole apples to apple juice found that drinking the juice led to a 6.9% increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol, an effect believed to be fiber-related.

Furthermore, an observational study indicated a higher risk of type 2 diabetes in people who drank fruit juices, while whole fruits seemed to lower the risk.

Eating whole fruits also generally makes people feel fuller than drinking the equivalent in juice.

Suggested read: Apple and peanut butter: Nutrition, calories, and benefits

One study looked at blending versus juicing grapefruits and found that blending, which keeps more fiber intact, is the superior method for maintaining higher levels of beneficial plant compounds.

Should you add fiber to your juices?

The fiber content in your juices can vary depending on your juicing machine. Some advice suggests mixing the leftover pulp back into food or drinks to boost fiber content.

While it’s better than discarding the fiber, evidence shows that adding it back into the juice doesn’t offer the same benefits as just eating the whole fruit or vegetable.

Moreover, a study revealed that including naturally occurring levels of fiber back into juice didn’t improve feelings of fullness.

Summary: Whole fruits and vegetables are a healthier choice. Juicing takes away beneficial fiber and antioxidants.

The pitfalls of juicing for weight loss

Juicing has become a popular option for those looking to lose weight, but it’s worth cautiously approaching this trend.

A typical juice diet restricts you to around 600–1,000 calories daily, relying solely on juice. While this calorie deficit will likely produce quick weight loss, it’s unsustainable for most people for over a few days.

Why it’s not sustainable

It can be challenging to maintain a significant calorie deficit, and it may also harm your metabolism. If you consume too few calories, your body may enter “starvation mode,” which slows down your metabolic rate as a survival mechanism. This can make you more susceptible to weight gain in the future, particularly when you resume a more usual eating routine.

Nutrient deficiencies

Diets that focus on juicing may not provide enough essential nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Protein is crucial for repairing muscles, and boosting the immune system and other bodily functions. Healthy fats are essential for hormone production and absorption of specific vitamins. Lack of fiber can lead to digestive problems and feeling unsatisfied after meals.

While fresh juices do contain vitamins and minerals, they are not a substitute for a balanced, whole-food diet. Extended periods on a juice-only diet could lead to nutrient deficiencies, which come with their own health risks, including weakened immune function and greater vulnerability to infection.

Summary: Juice diets often involve a severe calorie deficit that is unsustainable in the long run and could slow down your metabolism. These diets’ lack of essential nutrients makes them a poor long-term health strategy.

Juices should not replace meals

Relying solely on juices as meal replacements lacks the necessary balance of essential nutrients. Juices primarily offer carbohydrates and some vitamins and minerals, missing out on key macronutrients like proteins and fats that our body needs for daily functions.

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The importance of protein

Proteins are the body’s building blocks, essential for tissue repair, enzyme production, and muscle maintenance. While some vegetables, like spinach, contain protein, the amount in juices is typically minimal compared to what you might get from more substantial protein sources like meats, beans, tofu, or dairy products.

The role of fats

Healthy fats play a pivotal role in maintaining the health of cell membranes, providing a source of sustained energy, and supporting brain health. They also help absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins, ensuring the body gets the most benefit from them.

A more balanced approach

If you want to incorporate juices into your diet, consider them a supplement to your meals rather than a replacement. Enhancing your juice’s nutritional profile is crucial for those who choose to replace a meal with juice occasionally.

Adding protein sources like Greek yogurt, whey protein, or almond milk can give your juice the protein boost it lacks. Incorporating healthy fats like avocados, flaxseeds, or a spoonful of nut butter can ensure you also get the necessary fats.

However, it’s always essential to listen to your body. If you find yourself hungry soon after drinking juice, it might indicate that you need more substantial food to keep you full and satisfied.

Summary: While incorporating juices into your diet can be beneficial, they shouldn’t routinely replace meals. Ensuring a balanced intake of proteins, fats, and other essential nutrients is crucial for overall health. If you opt for juice, consider adding sources of protein and healthy fats to make it more nutritionally complete.

Juice cleanses are unnecessary and potentially harmful

Drinking lots of fruit juice regularly can increase your chances of gaining weight and developing metabolic issues.

Also, there’s no solid proof to say that you need to cut out solid foods to cleanse your body of toxins.

Your body naturally removes harmful substances through your liver and kidneys, so you don’t need a detox.

Plus, if you’re using non-organic veggies for your juice, you might also take in unwanted chemicals like pesticides.

People who have kidney issues should be extra careful. Drinking a lot of juices that are high in oxalate can lead to serious kidney problems.

Lastly, going overboard with juice cleanses can result in unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, getting dizzy, and feeling extremely tired.

Summary: There is no scientific evidence to support the notion that juice cleanses are necessary for detoxifying the body. Additionally, individuals with kidney problems or taking certain medications may experience harm from juicing.

Fruit juice contains high amounts of sugar

The ingredients you pick for your juice can make a big difference. Fruits are generally higher in sugar compared to veggies.

Eating too much of the natural sugar in fruits, known as fructose, can lead to elevated blood sugar, weight gain, and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

For instance, a small 3.9-ounce serving of pure apple juice has almost no fiber but contains 13 grams of sugar and 60 calories.

Similarly, the same-sized serving of pure grape juice has a whopping 20 grams of sugar.

If you’re looking to cut down on sugar, opt for vegetable-based juices and toss in a small piece of fruit for a hint of sweetness.

Summary: Vegetable-based juices contain less sugar compared to their fruit-based counterparts.

Summary

Fresh juices contain essential vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health.

However, whole fruits and vegetables are still the healthiest and most nutritious.

If you want to add juices to your diet, use them as a complement to your meals instead of a substitute, and aim to consume them in moderation.

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