Is the Jenny Craig Diet Healthy?

The Jenny Craig diet was named the best out of six popular diets tested by, and placed 8th out of 29 diets examined for U.S. News & World Report by a panel of health experts and nutritionists. Consisting of frozen or dried entrees that dieters supplement with fresh fruits, vegetables and non-fat dairy products, the Jenny Craig diet is praised for being safe and simple to follow, though health professionals caution that it may not be the best choice for everyone. Before beginning the Jenny Craig diet, consult your doctor.

Nutritional Content

According to both U.S. News & World Report and, the Jenny Craig diet is nutritionally sound, especially when compared to other weight-loss programs. It meets the government's recommended daily dietary guidelines for protein, fat, carbohydrates and minerals like calcium. However, unless you're careful about what foods you choose to supplement your Jenny Craig meals with, you may not get enough fiber, potassium or vitamin B-12. Nutritionist Monica Reinagel cautions that Jenny Craig's meals are high in sugar, hydrogenated oils and additives. The meals may also not be appropriate for people on a sodium-restricted diet.

Weight Loss

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Jenny Craig proponents say that you can lose up to 2 pounds a week on the plan. Mayo Clinic preventative medicine specialist Dr. Donald Hensrud says that this rate of weight loss is considered safe because you'll still be consuming adequate calories and nutrients for your body to function properly. Hensrud also says slow, steady weight loss is more likely to help you keep weight off long term. The Jenny Craig diet is relatively effective for both short-term and long-term weight loss, concluded the U.S. News & World Report expert panel.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Although the Jenny Craig diet isn't directly associated with preventing or treating cardiovascular disease, its success as a weight-management program may make it a healthy way to lower your risk of heart problems. In 2010, a study published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" reported that women following the Jenny Craig diet lost about 10 percent of their body weight in a year, compared to women following a typical low-calorie diet who lost only 2.6 percent of their body weight. The researchers said that the plan's effect on weight could help lower a dieter's risk of stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure. However, the study was funded by Jenny Craig and involved giving participants free products and extensive one-on-one counseling, so more research is needed.

Diabetes Prevention and Management

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If you lose weight on the Jenny Craig diet, you'll lower your chance of developing diabetes. People already diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes can choose Jenny Craig Type 2, a version of the program that involves an eating and exercise regimen designed specifically for diabetics. All of the meals provided on Jenny Craig Type 2 conform to the American Diabetes Association's nutritional recommendations for diabetics. Out of a possible five stars, the majority of the health experts involved in the U.S. News & World Report diet ranking gave the Jenny Craig diet 3 stars for effectiveness at preventing and managing diabetes.