Juice bars are quickly becoming the new Starbucks. You can walk a city block without seeing a new juice/smoothie place, and certain cities (I’m looking at you LA and NYC) are becoming quickly saturated with the juice trend. However, just because something is trendy doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best for your health. Do we all remember the fat-free trend of the 90’s?
There are definitely a lot of benefits to adding juices into your diet, but is it better than just eating the fruits and vegetables themselves? I looked at different topics and recent research to make sense of it all and find out what really is best.
Pro: Juicing allows you to consume more fresh produce
If you were to take one apple, an orange, two stalks of celery, half a lemon a few cups of spinach and eat them, you would be so full and likely to not eat it all. However, if you threw those ingredients into a juicer, that same amount of produce becomes much easier to consume.
The absence of the fiber means that you are not filling up, but are still getting the nutrients of the fresh produce. This allows people to consume a lot more fruits and vegetables than they normally would.
A report done by the USDA found that the average American eats 1.5 cups of vegetables daily, that’s half the recommended amount. The same study also finds that most of the vegetables consumed are potatoes and tomatoes, oftentimes with loads of fat and sodium added. With so little vegetables in the average American diet it is nearly impossible for the body to get an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals.
Adding a daily juice is a great way for people to up their intake of fruits and vegetables and in turn, their vitamins and nutrients.
Con: Juicing removes the pulp which is an essential part of the fruit/ vegetable
For the reason listed above, juicing and removing the fibers of the fruit can be beneficial. However, you are also removing an important part of the fruit or vegetable which contains fiber. Since the juicer doesn’t heat the ingredients to any significant degree, the other nutrients are retained.
The insoluble fiber of the fruit is what takes the body long to digest and therefore slows the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Diabetics might want be mindful for that reason.
However, if you make your juices using a high speed blender rather than a juicer, then you will be getting all the pulp and you don’t need to worry about losing any fiber. Another solution to this would be to add a few tablespoons of chia seeds to your juice, which will provide you with 10 grams, about 40% of your daily requirement.
Pro: Juicing makes the nutrients more bio available
Bioavailability is defined as the degree and rate at which a substance enters the body and circulation so as to have an active effect. The nutrients present in fruits and vegetables are wasted if they can’t be broken down and used by your body.
Through several processes, your body breaks down the food you eat, making use of whatever it can. Decreasing the particle size actually enlarges the surface area available for action by digestive enzymes. Mastication is the process of breaking down the particles of food you eat.
This is typically done when we chew our food, but juicing mimics this process. In fact, most juicers sold are actually called masticating juicers. This means that the first step of releasing those nutrients has been done for you, so when you drink your fruits and vegetables your body can put them to use more quickly and with less energy.
This is especially true with lycopene in tomatoes and carotenoids in carrots.
At the end of the day, you still need to decide what is right for your body. There is no “one size fits all” approach to health and wellness, despite what some companies might try to sell you on. Listening to your body and adapting trends to your needs and lifestyle are most important. However, no matter what your individual needs might be, everyone needs a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Incorporating a daily juice could be a good addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle.