Green juice has become a popular health trend in recent years, with juice bars and bottled green juices popping up everywhere. But does drinking green juice actually provide any benefits? Or is it all just hype? In this article, we’ll take a look at the potential benefits and drawbacks of green juice.
What is green juice?
Green juice is made by juicing leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables. Some common ingredients include kale, spinach, parsley, celery, cucumber, apple, lemon, ginger, and beetroot. Unlike smoothies, the fiber is removed from green juice, leaving only the nutrients in the juice.
Advocates claim that juicing helps you absorb more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from fruits and veggies. Because the produce is juiced and drinking juice is quicker than eating whole fruits and vegetables, you can consume a larger quantity and variety in one sitting.
Potential benefits of green juice
Here are some of the top benefits that proponents claim green juicing provides:
Increased vegetable and fruit intake
Juicing makes it easier to consume a larger quantity and wider variety of fruits and vegetables. This may help those who struggle to get enough produce in their diet.
According to USDA guidelines, adults should aim to consume at least 1 1⁄2 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day. However, most Americans fall short of this. Only 12.2% of adults get the recommended intake of both fruits and vegetables.
Juicing can be an easy way to increase your produce intake and get a wider variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. For example, you may be able to drink 4-6 cups of fruits/veggies in one green juice.
High nutrient absorption
Since juicing removes fiber, some claim that your body can more easily absorb certain nutrients in juice form. Proponents say this increases the amount of carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals your body takes in.
However, research on absorption rates has been mixed. While some studies have found increased plasma levels of certain antioxidants after drinking juice, the effects are likely short-lived. The fiber in whole fruits and vegetables also provides important health benefits that you miss out on with juicing.
Some view green juices as a way to get a concentrated dose of nutrients while reducing overall calorie intake for weight loss.
Replacing higher calorie beverages and snacks with low-sugar green juice containing fruits/veggies like kale, cucumber, parsley, lemon, and ginger may support weight loss efforts. However, drinking juice alone is not likely an effective long-term weight loss strategy.
One study in over 100 overweight adults found that replacing one meal and one snack per day with a green juice led to greater weight loss compared to only nutrition education. But more robust research is still needed.
Many green juice fans claim that juicing can “detox” your body and flush out toxins. However, the body already has its own highly sophisticated detoxification system: the liver. There is no evidence that specific juices or diets can enhance the liver’s natural detoxification processes.
That said, avoiding processed foods and eating more fiber-rich fruits/veggies may benefit liver health and reduce exposure to certain toxins in the first place.
Radiant skin, nails, and hair
Some green juice enthusiasts report improved hair, skin, and nails from drinking green juices rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, there is limited research to support these claims.
While getting enough nutrients is important for hair and skin health, there is no proof that juicing provides extra benefits over eating whole fruits and veggies.
Regularly consuming fruits and vegetables is tied to a lower risk of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Since green juicing may increase produce intake, some believe it provides exceptional protection against disease.
However, most research looks at total produce intake from whole foods, not juiced produce specifically. There is currently no strong evidence showing juicing prevents disease better than simply eating whole fruits and vegetables.
Potential downsides of juicing
Despite the hype, juicing also comes with some potential downsides:
Juicing extracts the juice from produce and leaves behind the fiber, pulp, and skin – where many nutrients reside. This can result in loss of fiber, antioxidants, beneficial plant compounds, and more.
For example, one study found that drinking juice led to significantly lower beta-carotene blood levels compared to eating whole carrots. Research also shows that drinking fruit juice provides far less cancer-fighting phenolic compounds compared to eating the whole fruit.
Blood sugar spikes
The fiber content in whole fruits and veggies helps slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Without fiber to slow it down, drinking sugary fruit juices can cause rapid blood sugar and insulin spikes.
For example, one study found that juice caused a more rapid increase in blood sugar and insulin levels compared to eating the whole fruit. For those with diabetes or blood sugar issues, juicing can be a particular problem.
Hunger and overeating
Juice has less satiating fiber and chewing resistance compared to whole produce. This may translate into increased hunger and calorie intake.
One study found that drinking fruit juice did not reduce hunger or subsequent food intake compared to drinking water. Other research shows that liquid calories aren’t as filling as calories from solid foods.
Sipping on sugary juices throughout the day can spell trouble for your teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and produce acids that can erode tooth enamel. This can increase risk of cavities, tooth decay, and erosion.
Pre-made green juices from juice bars and stores can get very expensive, especially if you drink them regularly. It’s much cheaper to make your own juice at home with a good juicer.
Juicing produces a lot of pulp and fiber left over that most people don’t use. Some estimate that juicing wastes 25-50% of the veggies and fruits used.
Not a long-term nutrition solution
While juicing may help some people eat more fruits and veggies, drinking juice should not replace eating whole produce in the long run. Juicing is not a sustainable daily nutrition plan.
Should you drink green juice?
Green juice may provide some benefits when included as part of an overall healthy diet. But it should not replace whole fruits and vegetables, which provide more fullness and complete nutrition.
Here are some tips on how to incorporate green juicing into your diet:
– Drink juice in moderation – no more than once a day to avoid too much sugar.
– Use juice as a snack or part of a meal, not a full meal replacement.
– Pick low-sugar vegetables and fruits like kale, cucumber, lemon, ginger.
– Drink shortly after juicing to avoid nutrient degradation.
– Alternate juicing with eating whole produce. Don’t rely on juice alone.
– Consider making your own juice at home to save money.
The bottom line
While juice contains a concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds from fruits and veggies, you miss out on fiber and antioxidants found in skins and pulp. Whole fruits and vegetables are still the best and most complete sources of nutrients.
Green juicing may provide some benefits when incorporated into a healthy diet, but should not replace eating whole, solid produce. Moderation is key.
|Wang et al. (2014)||Juice consumption increased plasma levels of some antioxidants like vitamin C, but not carotenoids.|
|Parada and Aguilera (2007)||Juice had lower phenolic compound content and antioxidant capacity compared to whole fruit.|
|Wootton-Beard et al. (2014)||Vegetable juice consumption increased vegetable intake and improved weight loss compared to nutrition education alone.|
|Flood-Obbagy and Rolls (2009)||Fruit juice did not decrease hunger or subsequent food intake compared to drinking water.|
|Melanson et al. (2006)||Juice produced a more rapid and larger increase in blood sugar and insulin compared to whole fruit.|