Having fresh juice is a popular choice for many people – one who is on diet, one who is tired, or one who just wants to have a healthy snack. How many of us know about the drawbacks and benefits of having a juice? How good is it for cleansing the system or for weight loss? Here are few details which may be of help in answering those questions.
According to Jennifer Barr, a dietician from Wilmington, an occasional glass of fresh juice can be a healthy option for snacking. The favorites in her list are carrots, ginger, parsley, kale and apples. She remembers to add the left over pulp in the muffins. She feels that it is a very good way to have fruits and vegetables if one is not a fan of them. “A fresh juice helps to meet the daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables”, says Barr, MPH, RD, LDN, who works at Wilmington’s Center for Community Health at Christiana Care Health System.
“Juice should not be considered as the sole source of fruits and vegetables”, cautions Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, CSSD, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesman and founder of Eating Free, a weight management program. Try to include two whole fruits and three to four vegetables in the diet every day. Choose a variety of colors as different colors have different vitamins and minerals.
Juicing may remove the pulp from the fruit, which contains lots of fiber. Further making a juice in a machine removes most of the minerals and vitamins from the whole fruits and vegetables as the nutrient rich skin is not used. One can add the left over pulp into the juice or add it in a different recipe. Barr uses the pulp from spinach, kale, flaxseed, celery and pears while making broth for cooking soup, rice and pasta. This helps to fortify the meals further. Some of the juicers further break down the fruit by grinding the core, rind and seeds.
According to Villacorta, a juicer is not needed to make a juice. A blender is all that is needed for most of the fruits and vegetables to keep the fiber. Do remember to remove the skin, rind or the seeds when needed.
Just like any other food, one should be careful about the calorie count in a juice too. A medium sized fruit contains about 60 calories. A cup of vegetables adds up to 25 calories while 3 cups of leafy green vegetables has 25 calories. Four ounces of fruit juice provides 60 calories and a typical juice is usually 12 to 16 ounces. One generally takes up to 4 fruits for making juice and the calories add up. If it is an all fruit juice, calories are the real concern, says Villacorta. One can make a more balanced juice by adding some almond milk, Greek yogurt, flaxseed or peanut butter.
There are few safety guidelines to be followed while making juices. These include:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before touching fruits and vegetables
- Wash the fruits also thoroughly
- Clean the blender using hot, soapy water and dry it completely before putting it away. This will prevent bacterial growth.
- If the juicer is cleaned in dishwasher, use the sanitize cycle
- Do not keep the juice for more than a week. It is always better to have the juice on the same day.
Juices are supposed to have a number of health benefits. Some say that juicing can reduce the risk of cancer and boost the immune system. Although plant-based products are known to reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancer, no specific studies has been done linking the intake of juices and these diseases. There are some studies which have looked into the intake of juice and the functioning of immune system. Any changes in the working of the immune system would have been probably due to the vegetables and fruits rather than the juice, says Barr.
Some are of the opinion that juicing helps to absorb the nutrients better than eating the whole fruits and gives the digestive system rest from digesting the fiber. Villacorta says that the nutrients might not have the same potential as it has been processed by juicing. Although fiber can sometimes block the absorption of nutrients, many people do not get the recommended quantity of fiber in their diet. It is also better to discuss with the doctor before starting juices in the diet to avoid any potential interactions between the juice and medications. “For example, taking large amounts of food containing vitamin K like kale and spinach may affect the functioning of anti-clotting medications”, says Barr.
Many consider juicing as an essential part of weight loss programs. A full-juice diet may not provide the recommended dose of fiber to make you feel full. This gives the temptation to eat a cake or a chocolate as the amount of food did not give a full feeling. The protein of protein that you get also may be limited. Dieting with only juice may give the risk of losing muscle mass. Many studies have shown that adding proteins is essential to preserve muscle mass during weight loss. “Moreover, extreme diet slows down the metabolism and when the person gets back to the normal routine, they will be prone to building fat cells”, says Villacorta. According to him, there are no studies that support the view that having juice helps to cleanse the system.