Reviewed byLaura J. Martin, MD
Juicing is popular. But before you give it a whirl, you might
want to know what it may -- and may not -- do for your health.
What are the
nutritional benefits and drawbacks? Can you juice for weight loss? What about food safety and claims
about cleansing your system? Here's what you need to know.
Pros and Cons
Jennifer Barr, a Wilmington, Del., dietitian, occasionally makes
fresh juice as a snack for her kids. Her favorite juice combines kale, carrots,
ginger, parsley, and apples. She then adds the leftover pulp from her juicing
machine into muffins.
“If you’re not big into fruits and vegetables, it’s a good way to get
them in. It can help you meet daily recommendations in one drink” and be part of
a healthy diet,
says Barr, MPH, RD, LDN, who works at Wilmington's Center for Community Health
at Christiana Care Health System.
But you shouldn't count on juicing as your sole source of fruits
"Don’t think because you’re juicing that you’re off the hook
with eating fruits and vegetables,” says Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, CSSD, an
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesman and founder of Eating Free, a
weight management program.
Aim to eat two whole fruits, and three to four vegetables a day.
They should come in different colors, as the colors have different vitamins and
minerals, Barr says.
What's Left Out
A juicing machine extracts the juice from whole fruits or
vegetables. The processing results in fewer vitamins and minerals, because the
nutrient-rich skin is left behind. Juicing also removes the pulp, which contains
You can add some of the leftover pulp back into the juice or use
it in cooking.
Besides muffins, Barr uses other combinations -- such as
spinach, pears, flaxseed, celery, and kale -- to make broth for cooking soup,
rice, and pasta. She calls it "going the extra step to fortify your meals."
Juicers can be expensive, ranging from $50 to $400. Some more
expensive juicers will break down a lot of the fruit by grinding the core, rind,
and seeds, Barr says.
You may not need a juicing machine to make juice. You can use a
blender for most whole fruits or vegetables to keep the fiber -- add water if it
becomes too thick, Villacorta says.
You’ll also want to remove seeds and rinds, and some skins.