Juicing has become an increasingly popular way for people to get more fruits and vegetables into their diets. With busy lifestyles, juicing provides a convenient way to pack in the nutrition. Some advocates even claim you can get all the nutrients you need from juice alone. But is juicing once a day enough to provide health benefits? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.
What is Juicing?
Juicing refers to extracting the liquid from fruits and vegetables. This is typically done by pressing or blending produce and then removing the solids, such as skins and pulp. The resulting juice contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in whole fruits and veggies. However, the fiber is removed.
Juicing makes it easier to consume a large amount of produce quickly. For example, you might eat one medium carrot or one medium apple. But you can juice several carrots or apples in the same amount of time it takes to eat just one.
Nutrients in Juice vs Whole Produce
Whole fruits and vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Fiber is an important nutrient that most people do not get enough of. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber bulks up stool and may help prevent constipation.
Juicing removes most of the fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables. For example, a medium apple contains 4.4 grams of fiber, but apple juice has only 0.5 grams of fiber. So you lose most of the fiber when you juice produce.
In addition to fiber, some nutrients can be degraded by exposure to air and the juicing process. For example, some vitamin C can be lost.
|Nutrient||Whole Apple||Apple Juice (1 cup)|
|Fiber||4.4 g||0.5 g|
|Vitamin C||8.4 mg||0.5 mg|
|Potassium||195 mg||147 mg|
As you can see from the table, an apple contains significantly more fiber and vitamin C than apple juice. While apple juice still provides vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, you lose a significant amount of fiber when you juice.
Potential Benefits of Juicing
Despite the loss of fiber, juicing can still provide the following benefits when included as part of a healthy diet:
- Increased fruit and vegetable intake – Juicing makes it easier to consume more produce in one sitting.
- Greater variety – Mixing different kinds of produce allows you to obtain a wider range of nutrients.
- Enhanced absorption – Juicing may enhance absorption of some nutrients, especially carotenoids from vegetables.
- Phytonutrient boost – Juices are rich sources of disease-fighting phytonutrients like flavonoids.
- Convenience – Juicing is a fast and convenient way to get your daily serving of fruits and veggies.
For many people, juicing is a way to add more fruits and vegetables into their diet. One review found that consuming 100% fruit and vegetable juices was associated with an increased intake of produce.
Downsides of Juicing
There are some potential downsides to juicing that need to be considered:
- Lacking in fiber – Juices contain significantly less fiber, an important nutrient with many health benefits.
- Blood sugar spikes – The fiber removed in juicing helps blunt blood sugar spikes. Lacking fiber, juices can cause rapid rises and falls in blood sugar.
- Produce waste – The leftover pulp from juicing is often discarded, resulting in wasted produce.
- Nutrient loss – Some nutrients, like vitamin C, can degrade when exposed to heat, air and light.
- High in sugar – The juicing process concentrates natural sugars, resulting in high sugar content.
- Loss of chewing benefits – Chewing produces saliva which starts starch digestion and may satisfy appetite signals in the brain.
While juicing has some benefits, completely replacing whole fruits and vegetables with juice limits fiber intake. Choosing whole produce and adding juice as a supplement may be a better strategy.
Some people do short-term juice cleanses, consuming only juices for 3-10 days. Advocates claim this detoxifies the body, leads to weight loss, and provides a quick dose of nutrients. However, there is little evidence to support these claims.
Juice cleanses tend to be low in protein, fat, calories and fiber. While a short cleanse is unlikely to be harmful for most people, they do not have magical detoxifying powers. Our bodies naturally detoxify every day.
In fact, drastic calorie deprivation from juice cleanses may come with side effects like fatigue, nausea, irritability and disordered eating patterns.
You can get the benefits of juicing without doing a complete cleanse by incorporating one or two juices per day as part of a balanced diet.
Is Juicing Better Than Blending?
Blending, or making smoothies, has become another popular way to increase produce intake. Unlike juicing, blending keeps the fiber intact because the whole fruits or vegetables are pulverized. So smoothies have more fiber and may be more filling.
For example, here’s a comparison of nutrients in apple juice versus a smoothie made with one apple:
|Nutrient||Apple Juice (1 cup)||Apple Smoothie (1 cup)|
|Fiber||0.5 g||2.1 g|
|Sugar||25.8 g||17.2 g|
|Protein||0.5 g||0.8 g|
The smoothie has nearly 4 times more fiber and less sugar than apple juice. But juicing still provides more concentrated nutrients and phytonutrients that you may not otherwise consume.
For most people, a mix of both juicing and blending is best. Consume smoothies frequently for fiber and meal replacements, while also mixing in juices for an extra phytonutrient boost.
Should You Juice Every Day?
There is no strong evidence that you need to juice every single day. However, incorporating juice into your daily routine can help increase your produce intake and provide a burst of extra nutrients.
Here are some tips for adding juicing to your routine:
- Try substituting juice for your morning coffee occasionally as an energizing, nutritious start to your day.
- Mix juice into a veggie-based smoothie to amp up the nutrient content.
- Include a small glass of juice (4 oz) with breakfast or snacks to help you reach produce targets.
- Use juice as a refreshing pick-me-up post-workout instead of sugary sports drinks.
- On weekends or days off, consider replacing breakfast or lunch with a juicing or blending combo.
Ideally, aim to consume 2-3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day. Using juicing as one way to increase your produce intake can help you meet these goals.
Juicing is generally safe if done in moderation, but there are some precautions to keep in mind:
- Clean produce thoroughly to minimize risk of contamination from bacteria.
- Consume juices immediately, as they lose nutrients quickly after being exposed to air.
- Be aware that juicing concentrates natural sugars. Limit juice portions to 4-8 ounces.
- Don’t rely entirely on juicing for nutrition, since juices lack protein, fat and fiber.
- Children, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions should consult a doctor before juicing.
- Be cautious about cleanses or fasting with juices alone.
The Bottom Line
Research shows that increased fruit and vegetable intake promotes good health. Juicing can provide a significant nutrient boost and makes it easier to get a variety of produce into your diet.
However, fiber is lost during the juicing process. For optimal health, pair juicing with plenty of whole fruits and veggies, as well as other whole plant foods like nuts, seeds, beans and grains.
Occasionally replacing a meal with a juicing combo or adding a small juice to your daily routine can help you meet nutrition goals. But juice shouldn’t replace eating whole produce. Aim for a mix of both juiced and blended drinks along with plenty of solid plant foods.
Juicing once a day can provide benefits but shouldn’t be relied on as your sole source of nutrition. Focus on a balanced diet with a variety of juices, smoothies, and fiber-rich plant foods for optimal wellness.