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Is Juicing Really Healthy?

By Jessica Bruso

Before you go out and buy a juicer, make sure you understand the pros and cons of juicing. Juicing your fruits and vegetables may have some benefits, but it isn't a cure-all or a way to guarantee weight loss. How healthy a juice is will depend on the type of juice, and it isn't healthy to try to subsist on juice alone.

Juice Nutrition

Juices, especially fresh juices that haven't been pasteurized, provide a number of vitamins and minerals. The juicing process removes the fiber from your produce, however. This can make it easier for your body to absorb these nutrients, though it will make the juice less filling. Fiber also helps lower your risk for high cholesterol, heart disease and certain digestive issues, such as constipation. Because of this, getting all your fruits and vegetables in the form of juice isn't a good idea unless you're getting the recommended 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day from other sources.

Potential Health Benefits

Juicing may make it easier for you to fit in your recommended two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day. Although proponents of juicing claim that raw juices provide enzymes that improve your health, there isn't any evidence for this, according to the American Cancer Society, which notes that these enzymes are destroyed during the digestive process. You may get more vitamins from raw juice than from cooked fruits and vegetables, however, because heat destroys some vitamins. Including vegetables in your juice as well as fruit will decrease its calories and sugar content while increasing the variety of nutrients it contains. Drink fresh juice right away to limit the risk of food-borne illness.

Potential Considerations

People with kidney problems may want to avoid juices using produce high in oxalates, such as spinach, as it may make their kidney problems worse. The high potassium levels in some juices may also be risky for people with kidney disease. Juice fasts involving just drinking juice don't provide enough of the essential nutrients, including protein, fat, fiber and certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B-12 and iron, to be healthy. They also aren't very filling, so they don't make a good replacement for meals. Some juices may contain too much sugar for diabetics, or they may be high enough in calories to lead to weight gain. Juices made from fruits and vegetables that aren't organic may also contain a significant amount of pesticide residues, depending on the ingredients.

Healthy Alternatives

You can fit plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet without juicing if you plan your meals well. Add sliced bananas or berries to your breakfast cereal, slices of tomatoes and lettuce to your sandwich at lunch and a side of broccoli to your dinner, and you'll be well on your way to meeting the recommended intake. Smoothies may be a healthier alternative to juices as well, as they still contain the fiber from the fruits and vegetables you include. Just limit the amount of high-calorie ingredients you add and include vegetables as well as fruits for the most nutritious smoothie. Whether you choose juice or a smoothie, watch your serving size so you don't end up drinking too many of your daily calories.

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