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The Truth about Juicing and Your Health

To Juice or Not to Juice;That is the Question

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian
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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

  • 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
  • I love juicing my veggies and fruits. - 9/13/2013 9:17:37 PM
  • This really makes me want to get out my ninja and use it! - 9/11/2013 9:56:54 PM
  • According to the research I've found, juice might not have all the nutrients that the fruits and veggies have, but they absorb better and faster. Having had gastric bypass surgery, that has HUGE benefits. Getting natural vitamins and minerals is a lot healthier than taking engineered pills. - 9/11/2013 12:30:35 PM
  • Juicing is amazing. I love the way it makes my body feel. DH's blood pressure and blood sugars normalized. I am loosing pounds. I feel more alert, energetic, healthier. You can't buy what you can make at home in a juicer. - 9/11/2013 11:59:27 AM
  • I'm all for juicing. I found it a great way to get in a few servings of freggies in one sitting. With anything, do your research or simply check with your doctor before starting any new health or fitness journey. - 9/11/2013 9:43:01 AM
  • I'm fortunate in that I love eating whole fruits and veggies. However, a good smoothie makes a great meal replacement when rushed for time or what have you. I have avoided juicing specifically due to the fiber issue - I already have trouble getting enough, I don't need to make it worse! - 9/11/2013 9:28:32 AM
  • Unless I'm mistaken, this: 13.8 g 11.3 g comparison of apples to apple juice shows that there are LESS carbs in the juice than in the apple. Same for each of them. The article does not mirror the results on the table here. - 9/8/2013 12:17:56 PM
  • I prefer to "eat" my veggies instead of drinking them - but then again, I am one of those crazy people who happen to loooooove veggies. Maybe I was a bunny in a past life? heh

    I definitely agree though that juicing can very much help people who hate vegetables. My fiance is anti-veggie; he gags as he consumes them. I'll have to get him a bottle of juice, I think! (But the real stuff, not one of those shelf-stable kind) - 8/5/2013 2:34:17 PM
  • i guess i dont techically JUICE, since i just use a little mini-blender, but i loveloveLOVE making homemade fruit juice. nothing gets lost or extracted, i just thrown in whatever fruit i feel like and blend. i was having watermelon-strawb
    erry juice almost daily for awhile, which was about 3 servings of fruit that i could easily drink with lunch. if i feel like i want something heavier or creamier, i'll add some tofu or yogurt and make it a smoothie. or throw in some protein powder if i'm not quite meeting my goals for the day. delicious and filing if you do it right. - 7/11/2013 4:30:01 PM
  • I use home-made fruit and veggie juice in my cooking. Usually fruit or carrot when a sweet taste is required in a dip, a dressing, or soup. And veggie juices, like tomato, celery, herbs, etc. for savory sauces for stews or soups.

    I feel it is a much healthier choice than the salty or sugar laden broths, and sweeteners which are available. I'd much rather have my own avocado/orange dressing than something out of a bottle with questionable fats, and loaded with sodium. - 6/30/2013 11:34:30 PM
  • I read comments that equate personal experience stacked up against scientific evaluation and give more weight to personal experience. Personal experience is not science it is anecdote and the plural of anecdote is not data. We are not objective in our evaluations and there are many confounding factors when we personally evaluate the results of our actions. The scientific method tries to eliminate as many of those confounding factors and look at measurable outcomes. "Feeling better" is not a measurable outcome, that is a subjective evaluation. If I eat a dozen cookies, I might feel better... but that doesn't mean it was beneficial for my health. Other confounding factors include the fact that when we move towards being healthier, we are making many changes. It is those many changes that are having positive effects.

    The juicing craze is another example of a fad. It is a belief system that is not grounded in science. - 6/4/2013 8:25:02 AM
  • I'll give you some "research based evidence". I am currently on day 55 of a 60 day fast and have never felt better in my life. The comments about my skin looking so healthy just don't stop. My nails are stronger, my hair is shinier, I'm light on my feet, which is expected with a 45 pound weight loss. Acid reflux is gone, dandruff is gone, blood pressure is back in the normal range. A cyst I had in my shoulder is gone. It's not meant to be something you do for the rest of your life, but it is a great kick start for some to head down a healthy path. I have a new love of fruits and vegetables that I just didn't have before. I am a firm believer that this has done nothing but add years to my life. Where were the naysayers when I was stuffing my face with hamburgers and fries? Nowhere. I'm more than proud of myself and the decision I made to juice fast. - 5/28/2013 3:55:02 PM