Nutrition Articles

The Truth about Juicing and Your Health

To Juice or Not to Juice;That is the Question

A couple decades ago, juicing was something that only overzealously health-conscious people did.  You just knew someone was into healthy living if he or she owned a juicer or drank fresh juice regularly. Today, it's much more popular. People are juicing to lose weight, to cleanse and to consume more nutrients. Juicers are popular sold not only via infomercials but can easily be found in department stores. Juice bars have popped up not just in hip California neighborhoods but even in the Midwest.
In the SparkPeople Community, we get questions about juicing all the time. Should I be juicing?  Will juicing improve my health?  Does juicing help with weight loss?  While you may be looking for a quick answer, it isn't that simple.  Like many things in nutrition and weight loss, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to the topic of juicing.  Read on to find out if juicing can benefit you and your goals.
What Exactly Is Juicing, Anyway?
Juicing is the process of extracting the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables.  A small kitchen appliance known as a juicer is used to extract the juice, and these can range in price from $50-$500. Drinking the juice of fruits and vegetables means consuming their water and much of their vitamin and mineral content; however, the pulp, or fiber, which also has many health benefits, is removed. (Note: Some high-powered juicers do retain most of the pulp in the juice, thus resulting in a thicker juice.)

There are a few main types of juicers out on the market today:

''Fast'' Juicers
This type of juicer is one of the most common varieties you'll find on the market. A fast juicer (or centrifugal juicer) grinds your fruits and veggies and then pushes the extracted juice through a strainer by spinning at a very high speed. The pulp is extracted and ejected into a special compartment, usually near the back of the juicer. This type of juicer produces pulp-free juice very quickly, but it also tends to extract less juice than other types of juicers. This type of juicer also generates more heat than other types, which some experts say could compromise the nutrients in the produce. 

"Slow" Juicers
This juicer produces juice in two steps, using one or two gears. First, it crushes the fruits and veggies, and then it presses out the juice. These types of juicers take longer to produce juice, and they tend to be more expensive than most centrifugal juicers. However, they are said to extract more nutrients from the produce. They yield a thick juice with more pulp, yet still produce some pulp extract in a separate compartment.

''Whole Food'' Juicers
These juicers are reminiscient of blenders. Using sharp blades at high speeds, they are able to pulverize whole fruits and veggies into liquid. These do not have a separate pulp compartment.
Fresh juices should not be confused with smoothies, which are usually made in a blender, food processor, or high-powered juicer and include the fibrous pulp of the fruit and vegetable ingredients (and can often contain a blend of fruit, vegetables, juice, dairy and other ingredients). 

How Juice Stacks Up against Whole Foods
Proponents of juicing like to say that juice is more nutritious than simply consuming fruits and vegetables. But does that argument really hold up? To compare the nutrition of whole fruits and vegetables to juice, it is important to compare apples to apples (no pun intended).  For accuracy, this means that one must compare them based on equal portions of weight (in grams), which is what we've done in the chart below. If using a juicer or blender that retains the pulp, the end result will be similar to the whole fruit.  This chart is a comparison of whole fruit vs juice that does not retain the pulp.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have been juicing for months now and the results have been amazing. Anyone who says it's bad for you needs to look into more. How come consuming more fruits and vegetables is a bad thing? Just stay away from processed foods. Yes it would be wonderful to be able to eat all the fruits and vegetables however me eating, 4 stalks of celery, 4 apples, 3 carrots, a bunch of kale, handful of spinach, 1 cucumber, 4 oranges, 4 kiwi, 2 thumb size of ginger, a handful of parsley, 2 mango's, just doesn't seem possible to do in a matter of minutes. I consume this within 20 minutes of juicing twice a day. Then I eat a whole plant based meal for my other meal. I feel full and have stopped counting calories. I measure how I feel. All the nutrients that are in each one of these are quickly consumed into my body because I'm getting in my body in a manner in which it needs. The above food is just what I juice. and as far as the cost goes, it's saving me money. I no longer eat meat, (just my choice) and I do not eat out, and do not buy processed food including cheese etc. Where the big savings is my health, I'm not missing work due to illness, I sleep better therefore I am more alert during the day. I am happier to be around. I do not need to buy pain medication to try remove pain caused by another chemical. My skin has cleared up, my sore back that use to prevent me from walking is now gone.
    Funny how we need to consult a doctor before we eat better... Live life to the fullest, do what makes you feel good. No one ever should tell you what not to do. Anyone who is telling you not to do something just means they have gone to school to learn something someone else found out first. You know you're body the best, learn to listen to it. - 1/14/2015 9:43:01 AM
  • LOLA5021
    I just got the nutribullit and it pulverizes everything. I cannot decide on a good morning shake for energy. Does anyone know of a good one for energy? - 1/13/2015 2:34:36 PM
    As long as I have teeth, I'll stick to eating the fruit and vegetables, thanks just the same. Waste of time, for one thing. Waste of the fruit and vegetable pulp, too. Ok if you are sick and can't eat. - 12/7/2014 1:12:12 PM
  • I have started juicing -- dont know how to count the calories as it is not the same as eating the fruit-- should equate to about 100 calories-- apple cranberry pineapples juice. I do not sub meals this is part of my spread out breakfast follow with oatmeal or eggs and coffee-- mid-day snack of veg juice-- spinach apple carrot parsley celery--- suppose to chew as you drink-- feel very full for hours eat normal meals. I do vary the fruits and vegetables I use - 10/31/2014 11:48:36 AM
    Interesting article thanks, what is the source for that table? - 10/28/2014 8:11:12 AM
  • I enjoyed this article - I have a juicer somewhere- O found it wastes a lot of the fibre although I have to admit I DID enjoy carrot juice!! I think for the time and trouble it would be easier for me to buy it fo the odd time I feel a need for it (or just buy some V-8 -which BTW isn't as healthy in my opinion as they try ti make out). - 8/28/2014 9:19:35 PM
  • If you wanted to compare apples to apples, you should compare home juice to store juice. You're quite likely to find all the nutrition has been baked, boiled, and irradiated out of the store juice. Also, you'll find people using juicers have increased their intake of fresh fruit (granted, without some pulp) from what they were previously using, which is rarely taken to the point where it would be a bad thing. - 5/16/2014 11:01:26 AM
  • I highly disagree with the premise made in this article. I have a cheap juicer. It cost less than $50 from Wal-Mart 20 yrs ago. I keep it really clean with an old toothbrush and larger brush and I dont care if the pulp goes in the trash. I use everything in season. My favorites are green beans and carrots and tomato and cranberries and apples and celery and grapes.and berries....strawb
    erries and others. Its not a "cleansing" issue. For me and for you its an immediate absorption of nutrients thru your digestive system! No energy wasted digesting and chewing all that hard vegetable material. Im 62. My teeth cant take all that chewing anymore! And I dont like it! One glass of veggie juice is my lunch. It gives me all my vitamins in one glass. It costs about $2-3. Its worth it! So I recommend it to all ages it tastes great! And u will get a rush of energy lik u wouldnt believe. Im 62. Everyone thinks im 48! Check my photo! Keep juicing! Scott - 5/16/2014 2:02:45 AM
  • NJ_HOU
    Juice Fast , not true, you are receiving valuable protein, carbs and if you add avocado fats. Thus, juicing is not a fast. NON INFORMATIONAL - 5/9/2014 12:26:10 AM
  • I have been juicing since I was a teenager ~ and it really does do all it claims to do, in my opinion. I feel so good when I've been on a juice fast. I just finished a 10 day fast, lost 16 lbs and feel wonderful and healthy. I have been on juice fasts for up to 21 days. :) - 4/23/2014 7:13:32 PM
    I love to juice as I have for years with the Jack La Lanne's Power Juicer - but incorporate Juice with well balanced meals and not as my only source of food . I have never used to jump start my loss and I do reserve the pulp that is collected for many different recipes - for example from carrots - high protein carrot muffins and so forth - anything that I cannot use right away I compost - great article ! - 4/23/2014 3:48:41 PM
    I'm not a juicer, but I LOVE making smoothies!
    For me the increased fibre content and nutrients are a no-brainer in making smoothies far better. Besides, the thicker texture works better to fill my stomach and I add other things like plain yogurt, wheat germ, flax seed, cocoa powder, walnuts (No nut butters for me. I'm allergic to peanuts and cant stand the taste of other butters, unfortunately), avocado etc to add in protein, fats, etc. I love that I can make a full meal and sip it leisurely on my balcony or bring it with me on my walk to work or school.

    I also find that a green smoothie in the morning is an easy way to wake my stomach up gently, but doesn't have too many sugars which can bother me. - 4/23/2014 12:14:40 PM
  • Why not whole fruit smoothies or green smoothies instead of just juicing? I have a Vitamix & a friend has a Blendtec. I'm much more inclined to get 5-7 fruit & veggie servings in a day if I do most of 'em in one glass. :-) - 3/29/2014 5:44:16 AM
  • I'm always on the go at my internship. Does anyone know if juicing is good for busy days? - 1/12/2014 11:10:17 PM
  • I prefer the whole food, not just juice. - 9/17/2013 7:29:32 AM

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