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Juicing Pros and Cons – How to get the most out of juicing

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In this post,  the pros and cons of juicing are outlined as well as the health aspects of juicing fruits and vegetables. Juicing a few times a week means I usually meet my goal of getting the recommended amount of fruits (2 servings) and vegetables (3 servings) each day.

Let’s get started!

Pros of Juicing

Juicing is the extracting of juice from fruits and vegetables. In this process, the liquid part of the produce is separated from the fiber.

Consume Essential Nutrients More Quickly and Easily

Many people don't have time to take care of themselves as they know they should. We all know we should eat a healthy diet, but making healthy meals with a full range of fruits and vegetables can take a long time to prepare. Unfortunately, sometimes it's faster and easier to make unhealthy choices when you have a busy schedule.

Juicing fruits and vegetables is a great way to make healthy food choices fast and straightforward. Juice is easy to drink in a hurry or even take with you on a commute. Juicing is a time-efficient way to make healthier food choices and take care of your body.

Get a Wider Range of Fruits and Vegetables In Your Diet

Some fruits, like apples, bananas, and oranges, are easier to eat on the go, while pineapples and pomegranates can take more time and effort to prepare. If you are counting calories, you’ll want to be mindful of the number of servings of fruit you consume.

Many vegetables are delicious when combined in a salad, but salads also take a lot of preparation, and we tend to use the same salad ingredients repeatedly. We also often add extra fat and calories to salads in the form of croutons or dressings.

When trying to save time and manage a busy schedule, we may eat the same fruits and vegetables repeatedly because they are easily consumed and don't require much preparation.

You can get all or most of the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables with juicing and easily use a wide range of produce in your juice. Instead of looking for recipes that use beets or sweet potatoes or figuring out how to combine them in a salad, they can be added to your juice.

If you will not eat certain vegetables, such as spinach or kale, juicing them is a way to add them to your diet. Eating pure green juice can be accomplished gradually.

Those new to juicing might find pure green juice recipes have too strong of a flavor. If you want to add more greens to your diet, a healthy recipe to start with consists of an apple, celery, lemon, and ginger. You can gradually decrease the amount of apple and increase celery. As you get used to the stronger flavor, you can add spinach or kale. It won’t take long before you enjoy recipes made with only greens.

If you have problems with your teeth and can’t chew hard vegetables such as carrots and celery, juicing them is a great way to get the nutrients they provide. If you want the fiber from carrots ( 2 g per 7” carrots) and celery (2 stalks provides 2 g fiber), then blending them is another option if you don’t have a juicer.

Easy to Digest and Absorb Nutrients

Juicing separates fruits and vegetables from plant fibers. While fiber is an important part of a healthy diet and keeps your digestive tract functioning well, it can also interfere with the absorption of the vitamins and minerals in your food.

Juicing extracts nutrients from the fibrous cell walls. When the juice is consumed, the body can quickly access and efficiently process the pure vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients in your fruits and vegetables.

Juice for Hydration 

Hydration is necessary for overall health. Your body relies on healthy fluids to transport blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body. Fluids are also needed for the healthy transmission of nerve signals, cushioning the joints, and making your skin and hair look healthy and shiny.

While water is the best way to remain hydrated, juice is a healthy option. Beets are full of  B vitamins and carotenoids, and their high levels of potassium and magnesium are beneficial for hydration.

Juicing the Right Foods Can Help Reduce Inflammation

Juicing and eating particular food whole may help reduce inflammation, according to Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. He states: "Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects."

Here are examples of produce that are anti-inflammatory and can be juiced or eaten whole.

Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, cherries (a lot of work to juice), and oranges.

Green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, and collards

Cons of Juicing

Lack of Fiber

While drinking juice made from fruits and vegetables is a convenient way to get the five recommended servings, there are drawbacks. One is the lack of fiber in the juice. 

Dietary fibers are carbohydrates that are not digestible. They help prevent and manage chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and chronic kidney disease.[1]

As fiber moves through your body, it slows down digestion. This helps you get more of the nutrients from the foods and lessens the spike in your blood sugar after eating.

Soluble and insoluble fiber both help prevent constipation.

Another disadvantage of not consuming fiber is that juice is less filling than eating whole fruits and vegetables.

The dietary fiber intake recommended by the USDA is 14 grams per 1000 calories. If you eat 2000 calories a day, you should be getting 28 grams of fiber from food.

According to 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, the average daily dietary fiber intake among males over 20 is 18.7 grams, and for females over 20 is 15.5 grams. [2]

Sugar Intake

If you are juicing for health and/or to lose weight, you’ll want to minimize the sugar content of your juices. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (pg 33) recommend two cups of fruit per day.  

To give you an idea of the sugar content in the juice, we’ll use a six-ounce glass of orange juice as an example. The number of oranges needed depends on how juicy the oranges are and the size. For this example, we’ll say it takes three medium-size oranges to produce 6 ounces of juice.  A 2 5/8” orange (medium) has 12 g of sugar. Suppose you use three oranges, that 36 grams of sugar. This is quite a bit of sugar in one drink.

If you juice spinach, kale, cabbage, lettuce, and collard greens, you don’t have to worry about sugar. However, green juices with no fruit can be bitter. A green apple, pear, or a few strawberries or blueberries are healthy fruits added to your green juices to enhance the flavor.

If you are new to juicing, you’ll want to work your way up to green juices with no fruit. Add half a Granny Smith apple and ½ a lemon or lime (remove the rind), carrots, or beets to cover the bitter taste.

Juicing is a Lot of Work

There is no getting around the work involved in juicing. There’s the shopping, food preparation (rinsing and chopping), and cleanup.   A masticating juicer, gives you the added benefit of being able to juice in batches and store the juice in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

How to get the most out of juicing  

There are a few ways to ensure you are maximizing the pros of juicing and reducing the cons.  We’ve compiled a few suggestions for healthy juicing.

Juicing is one part of your eating plan

Juicing is a great supplement to your daily eating plan to reach your daily fruit and vegetable serving goals.  However, it doesn’t have fiber, protein, and fat, which are needed for a healthy diet.

When juicing, be mindful of the calories as if you were eating the foods whole.

Juice mostly green vegetables

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (pg 33) recommend 2.5 cups of vegetables per day based on a 2000 calorie diet.

When selecting vegetables for juice, it’s healthier to focus on the greens. Green vegetables are a great source of chlorophyll. This study shows chlorophyll is an anti-inflammatory agent.

Spinach and parsley have the highest amount of chlorophyll. Other vegetables to use in green recipes are celery, green bell peppers, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, collards, and arugula.

If you find juice made solely of greens too bitter, the sweetness from a Granny Smith apple, kiwi, or carrots or beets will balance the flavor out.

Rotating your greens provides a variety of different nutrients contained in individual foods.

Limit sugar intake

This suggestion goes along with juicing mainly green vegetables. It is best to use only one fruit serving in your juice recipe to enhance the flavor of the vegetables.

Use low-glycemic fruits

The glycemic index (GI) assigns a number (0-100) to a food based on how slowly or quickly it makes your blood sugar rise. The lower the number, the less impact the food has on your blood sugar. The numeric value of 55 is considered low-glycemic.

According to WebMD, the value assigned to a food can change based on how the food is prepared, ripeness (banana GI increases as it ripens), and what other foods are being consumed simultaneously.

Examples of fruits with a lower glycemic index are apples (medium), oranges (medium), lemons, and grapefruit (1/2).

In addition to the glycemic index of the fruit, the serving size added to the juice recipe is important. A large serving of a low-glycemic fruit can impact your blood sugar as much as a small amount of a high-glycemic fruit.

Use the leftover pulp

Leftover juice pulp can be used in a variety of ways. It can be stirred back into the juice, mixed with scrambled eggs, or included in recipes for smoothies, soup, broth, pasta, or baked goods. Our chickens enjoy the pulp from carrots.

We compiled a list of ways to use leftover pulp.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have read the pros and cons of juicing, hopefully you have the information you need to decide whether you want to start juicing. 

It is a great way to add a wide range of fruits and vegetables to your eating plan as long as you watch the sugar intake and get your required amount of daily fiber.  

Drinking juice also helps keep you hydrated and, depending upon the recipe, can help reduce inflammation. A serving of fresh, homemade green juice is a convenient way to squeeze in extra vegetables. If you don't have a juicer, you can always make pickle juice

The downsides of juicing are the lack of fiber, the tendency to overdo the fruit intake, and the time it takes to prepare and juice the foods and clean the juicer.

The purpose of this article is to provide information. We are not medical professionals and do not give medical advice. 

Q&A

Do I have to drink the juice right away?

If you use a centrifugal juicing machine, it is best to drink the juice right away. However, if refrigerated in an air-tight container, it can last up to 24 hours. If you are using a masticating juicer, then it can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours.

Should I buy store-bought juice?

The interest in preparing green juice has increased in the last ten years to the point it is no longer a niche market. There is a wide variety of pre-made juices that can be purchased at grocery and convenience stores.

If you buy juice in a container, be sure to read the nutritional label. Look for the sugar content and try to purchase non-pasteurized, cold press, organic juices when possible.

Some store-bought “green juices” are fruit-green juice blends and have high sugar content.

How many servings of fruits and vegetables should I have per day?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (pg 33) recommends two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The results of an America Heart Association (AHA) study published in March 2021 found ≈five servings per day of fruit and vegetables was associated with the lowest risk of death. They concluded eating two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables daily correlated to the greatest longevity.

One interesting aspect of this study is that not all fruits and vegetables offer the same benefit. For example, starchy vegetables, such as peas and corn, fruit juice, and potatoes were not associated with a lower risk of death. Contrary to this, leafy vegetables and fruit and vegetables rich in Vitamin C and beta carotene showed benefits.

This AHA study was conducted over 28-30 years with data analyzed from over 2 million participants. D. Wang M.D. Sc.D., an epidemiologist, nutritionist, and member of the medical faculty at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, was the lead author of this paper.

He and his colleagues analyzed data from women in the Nurses' Health Study and men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study for 30 and 28 years, respectively. These studies represented a total of 108,735 adults.

Additionally, the team analyzed data collected from 28 studies that included almost 1.9 million participants from 29 countries.

The data from all the studies yielded similar results. The researchers do not claim a direct cause (not eating five fruits and vegetables per day) and effect (death). They observed an association between fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of death.

Are extracted juices healthier than the juice you get from eating whole fruits and vegetables?

Mayo Clinic maintains there is no scientific evidence this is true.

Should I juice for weight loss?

Some people use juice as part of a weight-loss plan. Although some might experience weight loss, juicing alone is not a long-term weight loss solution.

Juices deliver a high quantity of natural, bioavailable nutrition in every glass and are one part of a healthy diet. But juices are not intrinsically low in calories, and when liquid is separated from the plant fibers, it is not filling enough to serve as a meal replacement.

Juice can be a powerful part of a healthy lifestyle that includes losing weight but beware of people who claim that juicing alone is a solution for weight loss.

Sources

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