To Juice, or Not to Juice?
Submitted by: Kathleen Van De Weert
Edited by: Marcia Bristow MS RDN CD
On the shelves of grocery and health food stores you will find bottles of juice that tout high amounts of vitamins and minerals. In fact, some specialty shops or “juice bars” are seen has a healthy stop for consumers. Although the process of extracting the liquid portion from fruits and vegetables does deliver a substantial amount of nutrients, how does it compare to eating whole foods?
Along with providing a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals, juicing is also a way to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. The taste of certain foods can be masked within the juice mixture, so many individuals will drink foods they don’t normally eat. In addition, juices are flavorful and refreshing. Made in a wide array of flavors, juices can quench your thirst.
Although tasty, juices leave out an important nutrient that whole fruits and vegetables have – fiber. It is found in the skins and pulp of fruits and vegetables, both of which are left out in the juicing process. Fiber plays a role in healthy digestion and makes you feel full for longer, therefore it may contribute to weight loss. A study comparing the effects of consuming grapes vs. grape juice and oranges vs. orange juice showed a smaller insulin response when the whole fruit was eaten compared with the juice. This means that juice can spike blood sugar, which can increase risk for diabetes, heart disease, and increased weight.
Because of the fiber content and bulk of whole foods, the body expends more energy during digestion. This contributes to calorie burn, which is not experienced when drinking juice. Moreover, there is a lot of waste involved with juicing. Because just the liquid part is consumed, none of the solids are utilized. Also, it can take several fruits or vegetables to produce a cup of juice. By consuming whole fruits and vegetables you get more bang for your buck by feeling more full on a smaller amount of food for less money.
Overall, eating whole fruits and vegetables is more beneficial for health than juice. If you’re looking to add vitamins and minerals to your diet, incorporate fruit in salads, yogurt, baked items, or grab as a quick snack. Blending fruits and vegetables in a smoothie is a better alternative as the whole food is utilized, and vegetables can be added without compromising taste. If you do enjoy drinking juice be mindful of portion size – 4 oz is one serving. Overall, don’t get caught up in the buzz that juicing is “healthy” and reach for whole fruits and vegetables.