‘Juicing’ has become the latest thing to do with our food. Juicing is thought to be beneficial to our health as it is a way to ingest a concentrated source of micronutrients, which would only be achievable by eating large quantities of fresh vegetables and/or fruits. This much is true.
One of the problems with juicing however is that only the micronutrients, the juice and sugar from the fruit or vegetable get consumed. The valuable fibre or roughage portion of the fruit or vegetable is not consumed and therefore nor are various phytochemicals and phytonutrients. These nutrients have health benefits ranging from maintaining our gut function and immune system to preventing cancer; benefits which could be lost through juicing.
Most juices contain mostly fruit as fruit contains sugar which gives a pleasant taste. When fruit is juiced the resulting drink can have a high concentration of sugar (and therefore hidden energy), which is not helpful for those trying to control their weight. Added to this is that food in a liquid form can be digested at a faster rate compared to eating it in its whole form. This can leave one feeling hungry sooner and result in unnecessary snacking.
Depending on where the fruit and vegetables are sourced from the nutrient content of juices comes into question and may not be superior. From the moment that fruit and vegetables are picked their nutrient content starts to decline.
For effective juicing here are some things to consider;
- Always include fresh vegetables. Make them the majority.
- Make smoothies instead of a juice so that the whole fruit and/or vegetable is consumed.
- Avoid adding too much fruit so that the energy content is kept low.
- Use home grown or market sources vegetables that have been freshly picked.
To incorporate a juice effectively it should serve as a complement to food intake not in place of. It should be based predominantly on vegetables and other ingredients known to contain compounds beneficial to health. By achieving this, the juice will then be concentrated in micronutrients and low in energy – it may however not necessarily have the best taste.
Article Credit: Kerryn Wuth (Kerryn is a dietitian in private practice in Ballito and Umhlanga. Kerryn is specialised in sports nutrition and child nutrition.)