In recent times, juicing fruits and vegetables has become an international phenomenon revolutionized by celebrities and wellness gurus. Juices are being touted as being great detoxes, cleanses and cures for almost everything from flagging energy levels to weight loss and prevention of disease.
Juicing is not just a craze which will go away, it is here to stay. There is something really appealing and delightful about it and to be able to blend up veggies which otherwise you won’t like to eat them raw every day.
No wonder markets are flooded with juice recipe books which make to the bestsellers lists, juice kiosks, and stalls at every possible location, juice home delivery services and so on.
Juice extractors and blenders sales are rising upwards especially in the US with brands like Philips, Joyoung, Moulinex, Hamilton Beach, and Kenwood leading the sales ladder. In fact cookware store, Lakeland, recorded a whopping increase of 400% in sales of juice extractors and blenders in 2015.
With celebrities touting the benefits of juicing to small boutique juice kiosks popping up in every small, big city and town, the big question attracting debates remains; Is juicing vegetables and fruits healthy, harmful or little more than just hype?
Is Juicing Vegetables and Fruits Healthy, Harmful or Just Little More Than Hype?
Ask millions of juicing aficionados and evangelists who claim it works as a miracle drink however there are not many scientific pieces of evidence to support the claims.
If you would ask a health guru or an expert in the field about their opinion on the pros and cons of juicing, you might need to clear your schedule for a week and still be confused.
Opinions are deeply divided hence let us take an in-depth look at all the pros and cons of juicing, cleanses and detox which anyways will leave us better informed.
Pros: What Are The Benefits of Juicing
Before we proceed, let us understand our fruit and vegetable consumption. According to a study published by CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention & Control) found that just 15% of US adults consume the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
What is even surprising that per capita fruit and vegetable consumption in the US have declined by 7% over the past 5 years according to a Study on America’s Consumption of Fruit & Vegetables.
For all those who don’t have the time or inclination to chop up or cook two servings of vegetables with every meal, juicing is a convenient way to eat their share of veggies on the go.
Juicing provides with the same nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, as eating whole fruits and vegetables. What’s more, the water content in juices helps you stay hydrated.
Juicing Boosts Vegetable Intake
If you consume enough fruits and vegetables, that is great!
Ask yourself, do you actually consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables every day? Most likely the answer would be NO.
Juicing sounds to be the perfect solution especially for those who are not inclined towards chewing on veggies with every meal and/or snacks. It is also a convenient and easy way to consume a variety of produce. Just extract/blend different fruits, veggies and you have a nutrient dense drink ready.
It also helps break the monotony of consuming just the fruits and vegetables you like. Juicing also gives you the freedom to try new combinations of produce which you normally would not include in your recipes. Just slip it in the juicer with other produce and get heaps of nutrients and vitamins you probably would miss out on otherwise.
What’s even great about juicing is that it is a great option for kids who are picky eaters. What could be a better way to keep your kids healthy and sipping onto nutritious drink instead of unhealthy sodas, shakes and other drinks which are high in sugars without any nutrients.
Fresh juices provide you with important nutrients such as potassium, folate, vitamins A, vitamin C which helps maintain energy and metabolism, maintain blood pressure and may also reduce your risk of heart disease.
Fresh juice not just tastes delicious, it is also a healthy snack. Juices can also be replaced for meals when required.
Juicing is an Easy Way to Get Lots of Nutrients
According to the Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute, one glass of carrot juice give you the same nutrients compared to eating five cups of chopped carrots.
Drinking juices provide you with an instant shot of multivitamins that tastes delicious and all the nutrients are absorbed better. Your body finds it easier to digest juices easily because all the insoluble fiber was filtered out during the juicing process.
Including fruits and vegetables in your diets offers many health benefits. Many studies have found that people who consume more vegetables and fruits are likely to have a reduced risk of many chronic diseases.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients which are essential nutrients needed for many important body functions. They also provide protection against many diseases.
In a review of around 22 studies, it was found that drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juice or blended powder concentrate improved the levels of folate and antioxidant such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
In a study which was conducted by the Department of Agriculture study in which twelve fruits were analyzed, researchers found that 90 percent of the antioxidant activity was in the juice, rather than the fiber.
Juicing Is A Great Way to Reduce Produce Waste
Would you believe that 30 to 40% of the food supply is wasted in the US alone which equals to more than 20 pounds of food per person every month.
Juicing is a great way to play your part in reducing if not stopping food waste.
Juicing helps to use up any about-to-spoil produce such as a sadly shrunk cucumber, shriveled carrots or kale which might not be fresh enough to be included on dinner plates.
Cons: What Are The Negatives Of Juicing
Like everything, juicing also comes with its disadvantages. No doubt fruits and veggies are good for health and there are numerous studies which confirm that consuming fruits and vegetables reduces risks of many diseases.
However, there are not many studies which confirm the same when it comes to juices.
Juices Are Not Low Calorie, May Not Help Lose Weight
“Juicing is not a healthy craze,” says Priya Tew, a registered dietician with the British Dietetic Association, to the delicious magazine. According to her, “drinking a small glass of juice every day with breakfast or lunch won’t harm, in fact it is good and healthy”.
She further adds that “The problem starts when people start using juices as meal replacements. They end up consuming an awful lot of fruits and vegetables, possibly more than four portions in one glass which might sound healthy but it is not. It can add up to a lot of calories, sugars, and no fiber, fats or proteins”.
Probably juices are low calorie if you compare it with foods like pizza, burgers or french fries but in reality, they are a concentrated source of calories. Juices are also devoid of fiber which might make you feel hungry more often. What that means is that you would tend to eat or drink more.
Based on many studies, eating solid food helps feel full for longer and give the feeling of satiety compared to liquid meal replacements such as juices.
Juice diets provide decent calorie deficit which may help you lose weight initially, however, such a diet may slow down your metabolism in the long term. It may not sound right but juice diets may also lead to many nutrient deficiencies in your body.
Being on a juice diet for a couple of days could be a good thing to replenish your body with fluids especially if you are trying to cut back on alcohol.
Juices are not balanced diets especially for those who might be prone to diabetes. They lack proteins and fats. Dietitian Priya Tew advises against it and says “People can end up with an unbalanced diet, not getting the micronutrients they need and could end up lacking in protein, zinc, and other nutrients”.
Juices Have Concentrated Sugars
When you juice fruits, you strip away all the fiber and what you collect in a glass is the concentrated juice extracted from many fruits.
To give you an example, a cup of pomegranate seeds contains just 12 grams of sugar vis-a-vis a cup of pomegranate juice which contains 37 grams of sugar. Same goes for fruits like pineapples, oranges, apples etc.
Another example could be a very popular juice concoction which includes cucumbers, kale, apples, carrots, and lemons. It is a great recipe but moment you add apples and carrots, it becomes more concentrated on sugars.
So what you are doing is consuming a lot of fructose sugar in a very short time. It gets digested very fast and released in your blood stream which can lead to blood sugar spikes and fluctuations.
Juices Lack Fiber
Many people do not consume enough fiber in their well-balanced diets. According to the Institute of Medicine, an average American adult consumes just 15 grams of fiber per day and in the UK it is 18 grams. The recommended minimum intake of fiber is 30%.
Fiber is a vital component of a healthy and well-balanced diet. It can help prevent many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, some types of cancers, and it also helps improve digestive health.
The only source of fiber is from plants based foods such as fruits and vegetables. Foods such as meat, fish and dairy products don’t contain any fiber
For the matter of fact, juicing process removes up to 90% of insoluble fiber leaving behind negligible amounts of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber plays many other roles in our body. Firstly, it aids in slowing down sugar absorption in the blood and avoid sugar spikes. Secondly, it scrubs and cleans the digestive tract which helps get rid off trapped toxins and plaques.
Juicing also removes many antioxidants which are naturally bound to fibers. To get complete health benefits of fiber and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, it becomes vital not to waste them by juicing.
Most Juices Contain No Fats & No Proteins
Since juices do not contain enough fats and proteins, they are not nutritionally balanced for muscle maintenance, sustained energy, cell membrane and hormone balance, gut integrity and long-term health.
Fats are vital for your body which allow your body to transport fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K.
These fat soluble vitamins aid many important functions in our body such as regulating blood pressure, heart rate, metabolic functions and are key to the nervous system, bone health, cell membrane formation and more.
Since most of the fats cannot be produced by the body such as omega 3 fatty acids, they need to be consumed from foods within our diets.
Lack of fats in the diet may lead to decreased energy levels and mental health, hormones reproduction and more.
Alternate View On Juicing
Not all experts agree on the pros or cons of juicing which does not mean you toss away your juicers or start replacing your meals with juices. There is a very thin line to be drawn on what is healthy for you.
No two humans are alike, what may work for me may not necessarily work for you.
There is no harm in going on a juice diet for a couple of days to detox or cleanse, it may help in just reducing intake of processed foods and help to get out of the daily food rut.
An occasional juice diet can give you an instant shot of multivitamins and minerals boosting your energy levels and recharge your batteries.
Should You Juice Or Not To Juice
The debate on whether you should juice or not can be neverending. Many juicing enthusiasts suggest that juicing fruits and vegetables help absorb nutrients better and take off stress from the digestive system from the fiber.
On the other hand, there is no scientific evidence which suggests that juicing is better than eating fruits and vegetables.
Well, if you do not like or enjoy eating salads, fruits and veggies, juicing them could be a fun way to incorporate all the veggies and fruits to your diets and toss in some fiber back into your juice.
Another way not to miss out on fiber is to consider blending which will also retain healthy antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Add Fats And Protein To Your Juices
It might not sound right but you can make your juices balanced by adding fats and proteins.
Of course, you cannot slip in steak or fish fillet in the blender but you might want to add chia seeds or flaxseeds which will provide you with a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants.
You can even add some olive oil, coconut oil or cod liver oil which come with added health benefits.
Adding proteins to your juice could be done simply by adding in powdered amino acids or hydrolyzed collagen into your juice.
Choose Juicing Method
If you have the need and can afford the original Norwalk hydraulic press juicer for $2,500, nothing like it. Otherwise, there are two different types of basic juicers available in the market.
This is the most common type of juicer available in the markets. It works typically by utilizing a very fast-spinning metal blade that spins against a mesh filter. The centrifugal force separates the juice and pulp into different containers.
One of the major issue with centrifugal juicers is that they generate a lot of heat which destroys some of the enzymes and nutrients.
These new generation juicers are also known as masticating juicers. They work by crushing and pressing the produce slowly for the highest yield. They also do not produce much heat compared to their counterpart and keeps nutrients intact.
Some Tips To Keep In Mind
Try and consume freshly squeezed or blended juices immediately because the antioxidants and other phytonutrients start to break down instantly once exposed to light and air.
Fresh juice is also vulnerable to develop harmful bacteria and cause many health issues.
Juices may lead to weight gain because they may contain more sugar than you realize.
Ideally, you should go heavy on veggies and low on fruits. 4:1 vegetable to fruit ratio will ensure that sugar intake is balanced.
Try and not to replace a meal with juice more than a few times a week and ensure you get all the nutrients which you otherwise get from whole foods.
No doubt fresh juices contain important nutrients such as vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health.
Juicing in moderation can be healthy and help you replenish essentials nutrients, but it’s definitely not a good way to lose weight, detox, cleanse or diet.
Ideally, fruits and vegetables are still the healthiest and most nutritious when consumed whole providing you with all the goodness of natural health.