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Juice: Is juicing fruits and vegetables good for us?
Colourful juices line the shelves of our favourite cafes, promising benefits from better digestion to clearer skin. But is drinking our fruits and vegetables really better for us than just eating them whole?
Juicing - extracting the nutritious juices from fresh fruits and vegetables - has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Usually, juicing gets rid of the solid matter, such as the pulp, and leaves the liquid behind - which contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Benefits of juicing
Vitamins and minerals
When you’re in a rush or on the move, drinking a fresh juice can be more convenient than trying to peel an orange. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so drinking the juice can be a good way to add them to your diet - especially if you struggle to eat your 5-a-day.
One study found that supplementing your diet with mixed fruit and vegetable juice over 14 weeks improved levels of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and folate, which are all important nutrients1.
However, whilst drinking juice in moderation - as part of a healthy diet - may have some health benefits - drinking too much juice may lead to health issues because it tends to contain a lot of sugar.
Downsides of juicing
When you make juice, you often lose the solid parts of the fruit or vegetable, which is where most of the dietary fibre is found. Fibre is essential for our digestive health, helps to lower cholesterol levels, controls your blood sugar levels3.
Therefore, eating fruits or vegetables whole - for example, snacking on a satsuma rather than having a glass of orange juice - is a better way to get more nutrients as well as fibre.
High in sugar
Fruit juice is often high in sugar. All fruit contains fructose, a type of sugar. However, juicing releases the sugars in fruit - making them ‘free’ sugars, the type we are advised to cut back on.
Also, because juice contains less fibre, the sugar is absorbed into the blood more quickly than if you were to eat a piece of fruit. This can lead to increased appetite and sugar cravings, which can lead to eating more sugar and increases your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Drinking too much juice can also lead to tooth decay4.
Juice is easy to consume in large quantities, which can mean you’re taking in extra calories, which can lead to weight gain.
Studies suggest that when you drink fruit juice, you do not eat less of other foods - so you may just end up consuming more calories than if you drank water5.
Keeping juice healthy
Drinking juice can come with health benefits if you consume it in moderation - this is around 150 ml of juice per day. Also, how healthy a juice is depends on where it is from. Shop-bought juices may contain more sugar or other additives.
Blending fruits and vegetables - including the solid parts, like the flesh and seeds - into a smoothie may be a better way to up your nutrient intake without losing any fibre.
Mixing up fruit and vegetables is a good way to cut down on your sugar intake. Use a juicer to blitz together apple, carrot and orange, or add in a handful of raspberries too.
Try a cucumber, apple and spinach juice for a morning pick-me-up, or a fresh ginger, apple and lemon juice for a vitamin boost with a kick.
- Kiefer et al: Supplementation with mixed fruit and vegetable juice concentrates increased serum antioxidants and folate in healthy adults.
- Ruxton et al: Fruit juices: Are they helpful or harmful? An evidence review.
- Barber et al: The health benefits of dietary fibre.
- Liska et al: 100% fruit juice and dental health: A systematic review of the literature.
- Flood-Obbagy et al: The effect of fruit in different forms on energy intake and satiety at a meal.