From Nutribullets to Vitamixes, it seems people can’t get enough of the juicing craze. You’d be hard-pressed to walk around any supermarket without coming across multiple brands offering you fresh, natural fruit or vegetable juices in their cool glass bottles.
Thanks to pretty much every celebrity magazine out there, from Cosmopolitan to Women’s Health talking about how Celebrity X managed to lose Y amount of weight, it’s not surprising young women, in particular, are obsessed with the trend. You will hear all sorts of health claims in the media about juicing. ‘’Increase your antioxidant intake and reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer’’, ‘’ Juicing enriches your body with micronutrients, enzymes and supercharges your body’’ etc. Juicing isn’t just a trend anymore it seems, it has evolved into a lifestyle.
While many of these health claims are undoubtedly true, are these claims overhyped a little? Is it pulp fiction (pun intended!) or is there some truth to the hype?
Personally, I can definitely see why people are so enamoured with the new trend. It ‘feels’ healthy thanks to the realization that it replaces sugary drinks or unhealthy amounts of coffee. Juicing would obviously be more of a hit in warm countries where people can get to sip cool, fresh juice on a hot sunny day. Let’s also not forget about how incredibly convenient juicing is, particularly to busy parents and professionals. It’s a great way to reduce all those vegetables or fruit into one cup. Otherwise, you’d end up having to eat a whole bunch of kale or spinach. So, it makes great sense to whittle it down to a more manageable serving.
While celebrities and bloggers remain hyped about the juicing trend, medical professionals don’t seem so keen on the idea. Reputable sites like Mayo Clinic claim that juicing doesn’t offer that many benefits over eating whole fruits or vegetables. It’s not surprising that medical professionals are concerned, given the number of unhealthy detox juicing diets that are peddled in the media.
Though juicing fruits was the most common when juicing first started out, the increasing popularity of low carb diets has made it far less common. People are starting to realize how much sugar there is in fruits. So now, vegetable juicing is the new trend. Vegetables have much lower calories, sugar and far more micronutrients per gram than fruit juice, so it does seem to a healthier option. The most common juicing vegetables are things like kale (numerous health benefits including large amounts of Vitamins A and C), beetroot, carrots (large amounts of vitamin A), tomato (has lycopene which is beneficial to the skin) and spinach (rich in iron, Vitamin A and C). Small doses of naturally sweet fruits like apples, pears, and blueberries are also added for a bit of flavour as well as other ingredients like ginger, nuts, and cinnamon.
So, let’s look in more detail at the health benefits (both health wise and not) of Juicing.
A convenient method to get a lot of nutrients
The biggest health benefit of juicing is really the convenience of it. Think about the volume of vegetables and other ingredients that go into one cup of vegetable juice. You would take a lot longer and probably less likely to eat all those vegetables in one meal. Juicing will condense all those vegetables and their nutrients into one tasty glass of juice that is perfect for busy people.
Juicing can from other unhealthy, sugary drinks
Think about it. If you weren’t going to be holding a green juice in your hand, it would most likely be a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage with added sugar. Juicing can quench your thirst so that you’re less likely to crave sugary sodas or iced coffees. With juicing, you will have something to drink that has natural sweetness (thanks to the fruits) as well as plenty of micronutrients. Unlike coffee, you won’t get all the caffeine and things like green tea aren’t really packed with nutrients, the way vegetable juices are.
Vegetable juices are jampacked with antioxidants
A lot of the vegetables commonly used for juicing, such as kale or spinach, is packed with Vitamins A and C. These vitamins are antioxidants, which help to fight harmful free radicals that are floating in our bodies due to unhealthy fried foods and toxic chemicals in the environment. Free radicals are claimed to be one of the biggest culprits in heart disease and cancer.
Juicing breaks down fibre
Fibre is an essential nutrient in any diet. A lack of fibre is linked to conditions like IBS and constipation. However, during juicing most of the fibre is broken down so you just end up with a liquid full of micronutrients. Hence, juicing is not really a substitute for eating whole vegetables. [https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/juicing/faq-20058020 https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/juicing-health-risks-and-benefits#1
Juicing can break down some vitamins
Vitamin C isn’t really the most stable Vitamin. It is susceptible to oxidising at higher temperatures, exposure to sunlight and too much cutting or chopping. So, you would need to drink your juice right away to get any Vitamin C that survives the juicing process.
Juicing can be expensive
We know that buying freshly made juice isn’t exactly the cheapest takeaway beverage out there. But, even if you want to juice at home, you will need to invest in a good juicing machine which can cost anywhere between $50 to $400.
You might not actually need all those nutrients
Our kidneys usually flush out any excess nutrients that your body doesn’t need. For example, a cup of kale has a whopping 684% of the RDA of Vitamin K [https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2]. In that case, consuming all those vegetables would’ve been a waste of time and money.
The Bottom Line
Juicing can be a great way to consume large amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in a manageable serving. However, this is more beneficial for people who don’t have the time but have the money to invest in expensive juicers and fresh ingredients. With losses in nutrients like fibre and vitamin C, juicing doesn’t outperform eating whole fruit or vegetables. Really, the benefits of juicing come down to convenience rather than health benefits.