The Health Benefits of Juicing: Fact Or Fiction?
The term "juicing" is becoming more prevalent among health gurus and nutritionists. The theory behind this method of food preparation makes perfect sense to many: The liquids extracted from your fruits and vegetables are easier to digest and maximize the potential health benefits. But is it really healthier to drink your fruits and veggies as a juice rather than eating them? Here is some useful information to help you determine if juicing is right for you.
What is Juicing?
Juicing is the process of taking a fruit or a vegetable and squeezing out its juices for consumption rather than actually eating it. The process is usually performed with a juicer, and can be used on virtually any fruit or vegetable. Common produce used for juicing includes:
- Wheat grass
- Bell peppers
Juicing should not be confused with blended or puree forms of fruits or vegetables. Juicing only separates the juice from vegetables and fruits, leaving a portion of the solid produce left-over after putting it through the juicer.
While there is no scientific evidence to support the initial claims of the health benefits of juicing, many believe it's a healthier way of consuming fruits and vegetables for various reasons:
- Digestion: Those who support the health benefits of juicing claim the process leads to a relatively easier digestive process since the fruit or vegetable is being consumed in liquid form and does not need to be broken down. Because there is less of a digestive process, many supporters of juicing claim the vitamins and nutrients from these juiced foods enter the system much faster.
- More nutrients: Juicing supporters also claim the juicing process leads to a more nutrient-dense version of the food since you are able to eat more fruits and vegetables due to their liquid form. For example, you can potentially gain the nutritional value of the multiple carrots you use to make a glass of pure carrot juice, rather than just eating one carrot.
- Liver cleansing: Another possible health benefit of juicing is its liver detoxification properties. The amount of antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients obtained from juicing can rid your liver of toxins and waste, helping your body feel cleaner while increasing liver function.
Aside from easier digestion, many people claim that the benefits of juicing are no different than eating the actual fruit or vegetable. It is commonly suggested to keep some of the pulp of the fruit or vegetable during juicing to obtain a healthy dose of fiber with the juice.
Juicing Myths and Possible Negative Effects
Many experts claim that there is not enough scientific evidence to justify any of the health benefits of juicing, meaning there is no proven advantage to drinking your fruits and vegetables rather than eating them in whole form. There are also claims of health risks associated with juicing:
- Some even go on to say that important nutrients are actually lost during the juicing process.
- Another potential danger in juicing is using produce that has not been properly washed and may contain E. coli, although this can be just as dangerous for those who eat the whole forms of produce as well.
- While juicing may be more nutrient-dense than a whole fruit, it can also cause you to ingest excess calories and sugar. For example, one apple might be enough to fill you up, but it's not enough for a full glass of juice after being processed in a juicer. Therefore, you are forced to use even more apples, increasing your calorie and sugar intake.
Like the health benefits of juicing, most of the negative health claims about this method of food preparation also lack scientific evidence.
The Bottom Line
Although the health benefits of juicing have yet to be proven, no one can deny that juicing your fruits and veggies is better than not eating any at all. For many people, juicing is an effective way of obtaining the vitamins and nutrients from foods that they would typically avoid in whole form. While there is no proof that juicing is easier on the digestive system, many can support the fact that drinking a glass of spinach is a lot easier than chewing and swallowing it. Now imagine a juice comprised of broccoli, spinach, chard and wheat grass; that's one juice cocktail that's a lot easier to send down the hatch than actually trying to eat all of those green vegetables.