Juicing has become a popular way for people to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. Proponents claim that juicing allows you to consume more produce and absorb more nutrients. However, there are some downsides to juicing, including the loss of fiber and nutrients when you remove the produce pulp.
One of the main nutrients lost when juicing is fiber. Fiber provides many health benefits and is an important part of a balanced diet. It helps regulate digestion, promotes gut health, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels, aids in weight management, and more.
When you juice fruits and vegetables, the pulp containing the fiber is removed. This significantly reduces the fiber content of the produce. For example, a medium apple contains 4.4 grams of fiber. But when juiced, the same apple provides less than 1 gram of fiber.
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to fiber, some vitamins and minerals are decreased when produce is juiced. The extent of nutrient loss depends on the fruit or vegetable being juiced.
For example, broccoli is high in vitamin C but about half of this vitamin is lost during juicing. Up to 80% of immune-boosting antioxidants like flavonoids can also be degraded in the juicing process.
Similarly, potassium levels drop by about 35% when juicing fruits like oranges and apples. Other vitamins and minerals reduced by juicing include B-complex vitamins like folate and minerals like magnesium and phosphorus.
Phytochemicals are plant compounds that may provide health benefits. They are found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Like some vitamins, phytochemicals are concentrated in the skin and pulp of produce. Unfortunately, this pulp is often discarded when juicing.
Beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein are examples of phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Up to 30% of beta-carotene and lycopene can be lost through juicing.
You can add high-protein foods like nuts, seeds, yogurt, and milk to smoothies made in a blender. However, protein is lacking when you strictly juice produce. Most fruits and vegetables are low in protein to begin with.
Adding protein is important, as it helps you feel full and satisfied. Protein also provides essential amino acids needed to build and maintain muscle.
Like with protein, it can be challenging to get adequate healthy fats from fruit and vegetable juices alone. While produce does contain some fats, much of it is removed in the juicing process.
Healthy fats are necessary for proper immune function, brain health, balanced hormones, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut, olive oil, and fatty fish are good sources of beneficial fats.
Juice cleanses or restricting your diet to only juices may lead to calorie deficits. While juice contains vitamins and minerals, it lacks adequate protein, fat, carbs and calories to sustain energy levels.
Very low-calorie diets can cause fatigue, headaches, nausea, mental fog, and electrolyte imbalances. Be sure to consume sufficient calories from healthy whole foods like lean proteins, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Benefits of Juicing
Despite the loss of some nutrients, juicing still provides benefits – primarily increasing your intake of produce.
The nutrients most affected by juicing are fiber, water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Juice retains decent levels of minerals like potassium, folate, and carotenoids like beta-carotene.
If you don’t enjoy eating fruits and veggies, juicing makes it easier to consume them. Juicing also allows you to easily mix produce together for a dose of different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Maximizing Nutrition from Juicing
Here are some tips to get the most nutrition when juicing:
- Use produce with edible skins and peels, like apples, pears, carrots, and beets. Leave the skin on when possible.
- Add herbs like parsley and cilantro, sprouts, and leafy greens like kale or spinach to increase nutrients.
- Mix up fruits and vegetables to get different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Drink juice shortly after making it to reduce degradation of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and folate.
- Consume the pulp left over after juicing in smoothies, baked goods, or stir fries.
- Aim for limited juice portions and mostly focus on whole fruits and vegetables.
The Bottom Line
Some key nutrients lost from juicing include fiber, vitamin C, folate, B vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, protein, and healthy fats. Still, juice can add nutrition as part of a healthy diet focused on whole foods.
To make the most of juicing, drink juice shortly after making it, add nutritious ingredients like leafy greens and sprouts, and consume the leftover pulp. Most importantly, focus on eating whole fruits, veggies, proteins, healthy fats, and fiber.
While juicing shouldn’t replace eating produce whole, it can be used judiciously to increase your intake of fruits and veggies.