How Healthy Is Juicing?

Incorporate this health craze in a holistic way.

Juicing—and whirring up your fruits and veggies in a Vitamix blender—has been heralded as a detox cure, a weight-loss miracle, and a deliverer of antioxidants and phytonutrients in a glass.

But all juices are different, of course.

The Mayo Clinic says that there’s little scientific evidence that juices make vitamins in fruit and veggies easier to absorb. But proponents of juicing and blending say you can pack a lot more nutrients into a glass by drinking a pound of raw kale or broccoli rather than eating them whole.

The Department of Agriculture analyzed 12 fruits and found that 90 percent of the antioxidant activity was in the juice rather than the fiber. So go ahead and get your juicer or mixer out, but drink the juice right after it comes out of the machine, the Mayo Clinic says, because produce is more vulnerable to bacteria when stored.

What to juice
Nutritionists advise being careful about what you put in the blender or juicer, since your body absorbs fructose from fruit juice more easily, causing blood sugar levels to spike. If you love fruit juice, consider blending it with plenty of vegetables or gradually working up to an all-veg juice.

Juices vs. smoothies
The advantages of juicing include being able to extract far more nutrients in concentrated form, in an easy-to-digest glass of goodness. (This is up for debate among nutritionists, some of whom claim that juicing is no healthier than eating whole foods.) Consider this, however: Juicing strips most of the fiber content from vegetables and fruits. The Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily amount of fiber is 25 grams or more—so you’ll need to find a way to supplement your fiber if you’re a juicer.

Throwing your fruits and veggies into a blender can actually work as an occasional meal replacement, unlike juicing, because you’ll retain all the fiber. Plus, blending makes it easy to add a source of protein, such as almond milk or protein powder. But watch out for ingredients: Smoothies can pack a caloric punch. Aim for a mix of fruit, vegetables and protein—and keep the frozen yogurt, honey and, yes, ice cream out of the blender if you want a nutritious, lower sugar smoothie.