Are juices healthy? We answer your questions

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Juice has always been regarded as something healthy, linked to weight loss and good nutrition. In the past few years we’ve seen a real surge of the so called “detox juices”, which supposedly detoxify your body. Many people follow diets based on juice consumption in order to shed some weight or improve some condition.

The question here is simple: how much truth is there behind the supposed benefits of juices? Does science back them up? In this article we’ll analyze juices and try to recommend the healthiest options for our readers.

Home-made or industrially-produced juices? 

Supermarket shelves are increasingly full of all kinds of juices. Conventional juices (those that can be stored at room temperature before opening) are made from concentrate and have added sugar, so they are not such a healthy option. However, refrigerated juices also exist. Many are advertised as cold pressed, though by law they still have to be pasteurized, thus loosing plenty of benefits. Also, they’re primarily made of fruit, which means a lot of fructose. Lastly, some stores have recently introduced juicing machines (mainly orange presses) for you to make your own juice: this leaves us with a liquid that’s basically vitamin C mixed with sugar and water. Not precisely super healthy either. In short, none of the industrial options are really to be considered healthy.

Carrot juice is a great source of antioxidants that doesn’t contain too much fructose

So, I’m drinking home-made juices. What do I need to know?

First of all, you should know that juices don’t provide anything that can’t be obtained by eating fruits and vegetables whole. Nonetheless, if used correctly, they can be a great tool to increase our fruit and veggie consumption. Remember that by juicing a lot of insoluble fiber is lost, and fiber helps reduce the impact of the fruit’s sugar on our body. Therefore, a first tip wold be to maintain a ratio of 20% fruit to 80% veggies in our home-made juices. That way you’ll consume less sugar (since more of the juice is veggies). On the other hand we don’t particularly recommend adding any “superfoods” (spirulina, goji berries, etc.) to your juices or smoothies since they don’t really provide anything you can’t get through other foods, plus, your bank account will thank you.

And, what if I want lo lose weight?

Juices are often marketed as something great for weight-loss regimes. Unfortunately, this is probably not their best use: any juiced fruit will make you gain more weight than the fruit eaten whole. If what you want is to get rid of some pounds then shift to a low-carb, high-(healthy)fat diet. If you still want to incorporate juices, then make sure they’re mainly veggies. Limes are a a great ingredient to soften the sometimes strong taste of veggies.

Fat, sick and nearly dead was a film that made detox juices popular

 

But, didn’t juices have more minerals and antioxidants? 

Not at all. During the process of juicing lots of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants are lost. Remember to drink your juice immediately after making it, in order to minimize oxidation. Also bear in mind that excess of antioxidants and vitamins put extra stress on your body and are harmful. Obviously, we’re talking about massive amounts, but it illustrates that more isn’t always better.

So, aren’t juices going to detoxify me?

Unfortunately there isn’t any literature that proves that juices help our kidneys and liver in the detoxification process. Also, nothing indicates that the body might need external sources of cleaning.

Berries are a great option to include: they make juices tasty whilst containing very little sugar.

What does science have to say?

There isn’t much literature on juices. After all, if consuming the fruits and veggies whole is best, who would take the time to research juices? In this case study on elite swimmers there was no added benefit to consuming juices. Same here, in a study with cyclists. However, a study with average healthy people did find some benefits. Either way, evidence is still very scarce.

So, when do we specially recommend juicing?

Firstly, to people who’ve had a digestive system operation (stomach reduction, colostomy, etc.). Juices are easily digestible and stress the system less than consuming whole foods.

Secondly, and for the same reason, we also recommend juices to people with IBS and IBD. Patients suffering these conditions often have difficulties tolerating fiber, something which can be solved through juicing some of you foods. By this, veggie consumption is also assured.

Everyone else can of course drink juices totally freely, just remember they’re not better than the vegetables and fruits they’re made from.

All in all we believe that drinking juice can be a great way to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies.

Making the juices

As you may know, there are different types of “juices” you can prepare. On the one hand we have smoothies, which technically aren’t juices but are a creative and tasty way of eating fruit and vegetables. In order to make them you’ll need a blender sturdy enough to process mangoes, avocados, bananas and other similar fruits. This blender here is one of our favorites.

If what you want is to juice green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, kale or lettuce then your best bid will be a masticating juicer, which is a slow juicer that will prevent many nutrients and vitamins to be lost. We usually recommend this one, due to its good value.

Lastly, for other veggies and fruits such as apples, carrots, ginger, cucumbers or celery, a regular juicer will do just fine. We love the ones by Philips (we even have a big one at our office), there are several models available based on need, volume and power. They’re great value for money.

What ingredients shall I use?

As we mentioned earlier on, we don’t particularly recommend using superfoods in  juices or smoothies, mainly because we don’t think they are worth the money. Instead, we encourage real foods in a ratio of 80% vegetables to 20% fruit. If you suffer any inflammatory condition it might be smart to incorporate some natural anti-inflammatories such as ginger, curcumin or boswellia. Remember that for compounds to be effective it’s best to consume then in a bioavailable form, like the ones we recommend. Unfortunately, raw turmeric root , for example, won’t be as effective.

We like to use fruits with low sugar content and some natural anti-inflammatory properties such as berries, a pice of papaya or pineapple or half and apple, mixed with carrots, celery, beetroot, cucumber and many others.

Be creative and explore new flavors!

 

Is there a best moment for juices?  

You won’t want to mix the fructose of juices with protein, since this will cause fermentation in you bowel. It’s best to drink juices on an empty stomach.

Our verdict

Juices mustn’t substitute a healthy and varied diet. However, they are an excellent way to reach the daily recommended servings of fruit and specially vegetables, which very few people do in the western world. Therefore, we should regard juices not as substitutes but as helpful tools. Don’t let marketing convince you and make your own veggie juices at home!

If you want to ask us any question about juicing just contact us here.

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You might also be interested in our article on a healthy diet:

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