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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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100 Grams of Juice vs Whole Foods
 
Food or Juice Calories Water content Fiber
 
Carbs Protein Vitamin A Vitamin C Potassium
Apple, 2.5'' diameter
 
Apple juice, 3 fl. oz.
52
 
46
86 g
 
88 g
2.4 g
 
0.2 g
13.8 g
 
11.3 g
0.3 g
 
0.1 g
54 IU
 
1.0 IU
4.6 mg
 
1.0 mg
107 mg
 
101 mg
Grapes, 20 whole
 
Grape juice, 3 fl. oz.
69
 
60
81 g
 
85 g
0.9 g
 
0.2 g
18.1 g
 
14.8 g
0.7 g
 
0.4 g
66 IU
 
8 IU
3.2 mg
 
0.1 mg
191 mg
 
104 mg
Orange, 2.5'' diameter
 
Orange juice, 3 fl. oz
49
 
45
87 g
 
88 g
2.2 g
 
0.2 g
12.5 g
 
10.4 g
0.9 g
 
0.7 g
247 IU
 
200 IU
59 mg
 
50 mg
166 mg
 
20 mg
Carrots, 2 (5.5'' long)
 
Carrot juice, 3 fl. oz.
41
 
41
88 g
 
89 g
2.8 g
 
0.8 g
9.6 g
 
9.3 g
0.9 g
 
0.9 g
16,706 IU
 
19,124 IU
5.9 mg
 
8.5 mg
320 mg
 
292 mg
Kale, 1.5 C chopped
 
Kale juice, 3 fl. oz.
49
 
40
84 g
 
n/a
1.7 g
 
0 g
8.8 g
 
8.0 g
4.3 g
 
2.5 g
9990 IU
 
14,750 IU
120 mg
 
116 mg
491 mg
 
428 mg
Tomato, 2.5'' diameter
 
 
Tomato juice, 3 fl. oz.
18
 
 
17
94 g
 
 
94 g
1.2 g
 
 
0.4 g
4.24 g
 
 
3.89 g
0.9 g
 
 
0.7 g
833 IU
 
 
450 IU
13.7 mg
 
 
18.3 mg
 
237 mg
 
 
229 mg
 
By looking at the chart, you'll notice:
  • Whole foods usually contain more vitamins and minerals. This is most often due to the fact that many of these nutrients are in (or very near) the skin of fruits and vegetables, which gets discarded as pulp when fruits and vegetables are juiced.  
     
  • Whole foods always provide more fiber. As expected, fiber content is always higher in the whole produce since it is primarily found in the pulp, which is removed with the traditional juicing process. Fiber is one of the key reasons that fruits and vegetable are so good for us.
     
  • Gram for gram, juice is slightly lower in calories due to its slightly higher water content. The calorie content of your juice will be dependent on the combination of produce used in your given juicing recipe.  However, this is only the case if you stick to the small 3-fluid ounce portion of juice listed in this chart. Many people drink large cups of juice, which can double or triple the calories listed. Notice that fruits do have a higher calorie content than most non-starchy vegetables, primarily due to their natural sugar content. 
     
  • Both juice and whole foods provide a lot of water. No matter which option you choose, juice, whole fruits and whole vegetables all provide needed hydration for the body.
     
  • Whole fruits are lower in carbs than their juices.  Both fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates, but fruits contain more carbs than veggies typically do.  These carbs come primarily from the natural sugars contained in the produce, but are considered ''smart carbs'' because they are nutrient dense and rich in fiber, which helps slow  blood sugar response in the body. Yet, for people following a weight-loss program or a diet to control blood sugar levels, the carbs in fruits, vegetables, and their juices should all be monitored.  When making your selections, note that fruit juices are usually higher in carbohydrates. (Learn more about making smart fruit and juice choices when you have diabetes.)

    You may think that the Glycemic Index (GI) would be a helpful tool for calculating the nutritional differences between whole produce and juice.  However, for people with diabetes, counting total carbs is the most valuable tool for regulating blood sugar.  If you are having difficulty controlling blood sugar readings, work with your health care provider to adjust your eating plan.


One other concern with juicing is the cost. It takes a lot of fruits and vegetables to make a small amount of juice, and these fresh produce items don't come cheap. Especially if you are discarding the pulp, you're spending a lot of money on making fresh juice when your wallet (and body) may benefit more from simply eating the fresh produce. Healthy eating does not have to cost a lot of money, but if budgetary constraints are a top concern of yours, juicing isn't the most frugal choice when it comes to getting the most nutrition for your buck. 
 
So Why Do People Juice? What Are the Benefits?
People who juice usually fall into one or more categories based on the reason they choose to juice.
 

  • The Juice Cleanser uses a juice concoction with the goal of detoxing the body and giving the gut a rest.
     
  • The Juice Faster is typically looking to jump-start their weight loss by using fruit and vegetable juices as their main source of nutrition for up to a few days, weeks, or even months.
     
  • The Juice Snacker enjoys freshly squeezed juice with a meal or snack, and occasionally replaces a meal with only juice. This juicer simply likes juice or feels that fresh juice is a healthy addition to their diet on occasion.


Does juicing help people reach any of the goals above? I'll be the first to admit that while there is a great deal of research regarding the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, there is very little research-based evidence regarding the juice of such produce. Yet, we can still use science and common sense to answer the most common questions about juicing. Continued ›

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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

  • 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
  • RACEWELLWON
    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
  • NEARLYNINA
    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
  • 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