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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Is juicing as healthy as some proclaim, or are some nutrients lost in the process?
ANSWER: Juicing — extracting the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables — can be a good way to add nutrients to your diet. If you struggle to eat the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, juicing can help you get there.
The good news is that the juice contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in whole fruit. Juicing also may help you incorporate a broader variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, such as kale, spinach or tropical fruits.
However, juice shouldn’t be the only way to get these nutrients. Whole fruits and vegetables also contain healthy fiber, much of which is lost during juicing — especially if the skin and pulp are removed. Dietary fiber not only aids in digestion, but also may improve blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Fiber also helps you feel full, which can help with weight control.
Some promote juicing as a quick way to lose weight. However, a diet containing only fruits and vegetables isn’t balanced. Be sure you’re also meeting your needs for fiber, protein, calcium, iron and healthy fats. You can do this by incorporating juicing into a healthy-eating plan that includes various whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein sources, and whole fruits and vegetables.
While juicing in moderation is generally healthy, certain types of juice may not be appropriate for everyone. A juice made of mostly fruits can be high in carbohydrates and sugars, which can influence blood sugar levels. For people with kidney disease, fruits that are high in potassium, such as melons and bananas, can cause complications and may need to be avoided.
Juicing also can be a significant source of calories, depending on the contents and the portion size you consume. Without the fiber to keep you feeling full, you may find that you’re hungry sooner. Add these up, and you have a recipe for potential weight gain if not kept in check.
Here are steps you can take to make sure your juice is as healthy as possible:
If you’re not sure whether juicing is a healthy option for you, talk to your health care provider or a dietitian. (adapted from Mayo Clinic Health Letter) — Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., Endocrinology/Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota