Is it better to eat vegetables or juice them?

Eating vegetables is a vital part of maintaining a healthy diet. Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. However, some people argue that juicing vegetables is an even healthier option that allows you to consume more nutrients. So what is truly better for your health – eating whole vegetables or juicing them?

Nutrient Content

When comparing whole vegetables to juices, the nutrient content can vary significantly. Juicing removes the pulp and skin of vegetables, which contain insoluble fiber and many nutrients. For example, some sources estimate that juicing removes up to 90% of the fiber content in vegetables. Fiber is important for gut health, heart health, stabilizing blood sugar levels and promoting feelings of fullness.

However, the process of juicing concentrates the remaining liquid, which contains most of the vitamins and plant compounds from the vegetables. This allows you to consume a higher quantity of certain micronutrients in juice form compared to eating whole vegetables. For example, 16 ounces of carrot juice may contain over 10 times the amount of beta-carotene as 1 medium raw carrot.

Overall, juicing makes some nutrients more concentrated and bioavailable. But the trade-off is losing out on fiber and some antioxidants. The scale below summarizes the main differences in nutrient content:

Nutrient Juicing Whole Vegetables
Vitamins C, A and B Higher Lower
Fiber Removed Higher
Minerals Higher Lower
Carotenoids Higher Lower
Antioxidants Lower Higher

Fullness and Weight Management

Juices are lower in fiber since the pulp is removed during the juicing process. Fiber promotes feelings of fullness or satiety after eating. For this reason, juice may be less filling than whole vegetables.

Some research has investigated this effect. In one study, overweight adults consumed vegetable juice or raw vegetables along with a standard lunch. The vegetable juice only increased fullness ratings slightly compared to no vegetables, while raw veggies significantly increased fullness and led to consuming fewer calories later in the day.

The table below summarizes a study comparing the effects of raw veggie salad vs. vegetable juice on fullness:

Measure Vegetable Juice Raw Vegetable Salad
Fullness Rating Slightly higher Significantly higher
Calories Consumed Later No difference Lower

The fiber content of produce may also promote weight loss. In one study, increased vegetable intake was linked to lower body weight, but this was primarily attributed to the fiber content of the veggies.

Since juice is lower in fiber, it may not provide the same weight management benefits as whole vegetables. However, more research is needed on this.

Nutrient Absorption

Juices may also have an advantage when it comes to nutrient absorption. The process of juicing breaks down plant cell walls, which releases nutrients and makes them easier to absorb.

One study measured iron absorption from vegetable juices vs. whole vegetables in adults. Iron absorption was significantly higher from juices. Beta-carotene absorption has also been shown to be higher from juiced carrots compared to raw carrots.

So while juices lose out on some nutrients, your body may be able to absorb and utilize a greater proportion of the nutrients they do contain. Again, more research is needed comparing absorption of different nutrients from whole produce vs. juices.


Juicing has the perk of saving you time prepping vegetables. Chopping up produce takes effort and time that you don’t spend when making a quick vegetable juice in the morning.

Juices are also very portable. You can store juice in a water bottle and take it on the go, allowing you to get vegetables in even when you’re not home. Drinking juice takes minimal time as well.

For busy people who struggle to eat enough whole vegetables, juicing makes it easier to fit them into your day. However, for the health benefits outlined previously, it’s ideal to consume whole vegetables along with juicing rather than only drinking juice.


Juicing can be quite costly compared to eating whole vegetables that you purchase. Home juicers range from $50-$400 which is a notable upfront investment. And vegetables produce a fairly small amount of juice, so it can take large quantities to make juice.

One analysis estimated that juicing led to 2.8 to 6.4 times the cost of just eating the whole vegetables. The table below shows estimated costs:

Food Estimated Cost
1 pound raw carrots $0.89
1 pound carrots juiced $2.49 to $5.69
1 pound kale $2.99
1 pound kale juiced $8.41 to $19.17

Juicing is more expensive mostly thanks to the lower yields per pound of vegetables. The juice content of most vegetables ranges from 60-90% water, with the remaining dry pulp removed through juicing.

Downsides of Juicing

There are some potential downsides to drinking vegetable juice that need to be considered as well:

  • May spike blood sugar – Without fiber to slow absorption, juices can cause spikes in blood sugar. This may be detrimental for diabetes management.
  • Less nutrient diversity – Focusing just on juicing may lead to lower intake of other beneficial produce like berries, avocados, and dark leafy greens.
  • Temporary fullness – The lack of fiber limits how filling vegetable juices are.
  • Oxidation – Freshly made juice begins losing nutrients as soon as it’s exposed to air. Enzymes in vegetables start breaking down vitamins.
  • Food safety – Juices made with contaminated produce can more easily harbor foodborne pathogens and lead to illness due to the lack of cooking.

For these reasons, it’s best to consume vegetable juice in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. Juicing should complement your intake of whole vegetables rather than completely replacing them.


Overall, both whole vegetables and juices have unique benefits and downsides when it comes to your health:

  • Whole vegetables are higher in fiber, antioxidants, and more cost-effective. They provide greater feelings of fullness and weight management benefits.
  • Vegetable juices are more concentrated in some vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Juices may be absorbed better and are convenient, especially for those struggling to eat enough produce.

For optimal health:

  • Consume primarily whole vegetables for fiber, fullness and variety of nutrients.
  • Enjoy juices made from dark, leafy greens and other antioxidant-rich produce for an extra nutrient boost.
  • Limit higher sugar juices like carrot and beet juice to a few times per week due to their glycemic impact.

Making vegetable juices and smoothies can promote higher produce intake overall. But they do not provide the same health benefits as consuming whole vegetables which should be your primary focus. Juice is not a nutritional magic bullet, but an occasional nutrient boost alongside regular vegetable intake.

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