Is there any benefit to drinking your fruits and vegetables as juice? The proponents say that you get more of the plant nutrients if you eat the plant raw, because when the food is cooked the heat destroys certain nutrients. If you squeeze fruit and veggies you get to drink a large amount of their nutrients in one go. For example, to have one cup of orange juice you need to use 4 oranges, one cup of carrot juice takes 4 carrots. Do you know anyone who would sit down and eat 4 oranges in one go?
Now let’s take a look at the downside to juicing.
- Juicing removes fiber from the fruits and vegetables. This is bad because fiber is beneficial to health, and most of us do not get enough of it. When you eat food with its natural fiber packaging, the fiber does several things. It slows down the absorption of sugar from the food and helps you control blood sugar levels, it helps you to feel fuller sooner, and it helps carry food out of your gut by speeding up the time it takes food to travel through you.
- The sugar in fruit is called fructose. When you drink fruit juice you are drinking a lot more fructose than if you ate a piece of fruit (remember 4 oranges to make 1 cup of juice). You are drinking the fructose without fiber, and without the fiber you absorb more of the sugar. It is not easy for your body to metabolize fructose and its by-products include the worst kind of cholesterol, fat production, fatty liver, and appetite dysfunction among other things. See this blog about fructose.
- What about the extra plant nutrients in raw food? Well you can still eat raw foods without juicing them. There are lots of ways to eat raw vegetables and fruits, salads being the obvious choice. And cooking is not necessarily bad for nutrients. If you cook vegetables in olive oil, the fat actually helps you to absorb of some of the most valuable nutrients. It is well known that cooked tomatoes provide more of an antioxidant called lycopene than raw tomatoes.
If you really want to juice, I recommend a small glass of juice as a very occasional treat. And I recommend using organic fruits and vegetables. Don’t give yourself extra pesticides with your nutrients. Plus, try to add back a little of the pulp. Remember, fruits and vegetables are best taken with their natural fiber.