To Juice, or Not to Juice

Juice Cleanse 6-4-14

These days, it seems like everyone is juicing. Farmers’ markets and grocery stores sell bottles of brightly colored juices made with apples and pineapples, kale and carrots. There are juice recipes on websites and in magazines. There are juice bars popping up in neighborhoods, grocery stores, and gyms. And people are even doing it at home, buying juicers and mounds of fresh produce. Should you be juicing too?

 

Before we get to that, let’s take a detour to talk about fiber. You may have heard of fiber. You may even know that it’s good for you. But you may not know why. Fiber tends to make you feel full for a longer period of time. This may help you eat less. So fiber is a great way to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It can also help:

  • Improve digestion
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Control blood sugar

 

Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber. It’s one of the reasons they’re so healthy for you. In the process of juicing, whole fruits and vegetables are chopped up into small pieces. These pieces are then spun or pressed. This separates the juice from the fiber, though you may know it as pulp. Then the juice is run through a filter, which strains out some of the fiber or pulp. Some juicers let you adjust the filter to strain out more or less pulp. But juicing removes at least some, and often a lot, of the pulp. This means you may not be getting the important fiber your body needs from fruits and veggies when you juice.

 

Plus it’s easy to consume a lot of extra calories. There are a lot of natural sugars in many fruits and even certain vegetables, like carrots. And it takes quite a few fruits and veggies to get one glass of juice. That can translate into extra calories. And without the fiber to fill you up, you might not feel as satisfied. So you may find yourself drinking more juice or eating more throughout the day in order to feel full.

 

That being said, juicing is not bad for you. The juice from fruits and vegetables has many of the vitamins and minerals that whole fruits and vegetables contain. It can be a fun way to add more fruits and veggies to your diet. And for picky eaters, it can be a way to add different fruits and veggies to your diet, like kale or grapefruit.

 

But juicing should not replace eating whole fruits and vegetables. There’s no evidence that drinking your fruits and vegetables is healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables. On the contrary. Eating whole fruits and veggies is healthier than drinking just the juice. So make sure, even if you juice, to keep eating lots of whole fruits and veggies.

 

Whether store-bought or homemade, be sure to enjoy juices in moderation. And to make sure they’re as healthy as possible, follow these tips:

  • Keep as much of the pulp as you can. This will give your body more of the healthy fiber it needs.
  • Focus on veggies, especially leafy greens. They’re lower in natural sugars and lower in calories.
  • Make only as much as you will drink at one time. Fresh juice can develop harmful bacteria.