The pros & cons of juicing
We're well into 2022, which means annual food and diet trends are in full flow. Guess what? Juicing seems to be back. Should we all dig out our slow juicers, blenders, presses, and centrifuges? Or, is juicing not quite as healthy as it sounds? We collected the most frequently asked questions and gave our honest answers, so you can decide whether you're going to hop on the trend this year or not.
What is juicing?
The name pretty much says it all: juicing extracts the juice from fruits and vegetables. Most of us have a lemon squeezer laying around in our cupboards, which is great for squeezing citrus fruits. We all love a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with a Sunday breakfast, but most juicing enthusiasts tend to go the extra mile with a proper juicing machine. The price of a juicer can be as modest as ₤30, but they can easily go for ₤1500 and above, too. That money gets you an appliance that does all the hard work for you, but for that big of an investment, you probably want to use it for something that’ll really benefit you. So, let's dive into that a little deeper.
Is juicing actually good for you?
First, we don’t believe in labelling foods and drinks as ‘good’ or ‘bad'. To determine whether something is good for you, you always have to look at the bigger picture. We all understand that chocolate cake for breakfast is not the healthiest choice, but a slice of cake every now and then, as part of a balanced diet, is totally ok. In this sense, chocolate cake can be both ‘good’ and ‘bad’, depending on the context.
The same goes for juicing. In general, our advice would be to always eat your fruits and veggies. By separating the pulp from the juice, you're losing a great amount of fibre, which can help promote bowel health and regularity as well as support insulin sensitivity. Fibre consumption in adults is actually far below daily-recommended levels, so this is a serious point of attention. Since the juicer will do most of the work for you, your body will likely absorb more sugar quicker. That's at least the case for most fruits, which are generally much higher in sugar compared to vegetables. We're not implying that you should be afraid of sugar in fruit (it's the added sugars you'll want to avoid) but imagine how it is for your body to handle. Here are two scenarios:
Scenario 1: eating an orange. From the moment you start peeling an orange, your brain begins to send satiety signals to the rest of your body, preparing it for what's going to come. While you start chewing on the orange slices, your body starts with the digestion process. It mechanically digests bigger chunks of fruit into smaller ones and your salvia production will peak, adding important digestive enzymes to the food. On average, you'll maybe eat one or two whole oranges in about 10 minutes.
Scenario 2: drinking orange juice. A normal glass of orange juice (250ml) contains an average of five oranges. You can chug a glass in a short period of time, by which you'll fill all that juice into your body without even having to chew. That means that five times the amount of sugar will get absorbed, resulting in a bigger blood sugar peak.
You can now probably imagine your body preferring to eat fruits and veggies instead of just drinking their juice. We must admit — juice does contain a good portion of fruit's and vegetable's vitamins and minerals, but overall, we'd advise to eat your five-a-day instead of drinking them.
Can you lose weight by juicing?
Losing weight is all about your calorie balance. When you eat less calories than you burn, you'll lose weight. To achieve this negative calorie balance, we recommend a combination of working out and eating healthy. Just like most other foods and drinks, juice contains calories and will therefore contribute to your calorie ‘budget'. Because of the difference in fibre we talked about earlier, it's also likely to make you feel less full compared to eating a piece of fruit.
To answer the question, we must look at the bigger picture again. Yes, it is possible to drink juice and lose weight, if your calorie intake sits in the right place. Therefore, it's also possible to juice and gain weight, if juicing means you're adding too much extra calories to your diet. If you want to know more about losing weight in a healthy way, we recommend this blog from our ambassador, Shelly. She explains in detail which factors are important to keep in mind when trying to lose weight, how you can make the process as enjoyable as possible and shares her own special nutrition plan.
Why is juice bad for you?
We can reassure you that juice itself isn't necessarily bad for you but do try to implement it in a healthy and balanced diet. In our opinion, juicing is still better than not eating any fruits and veggies at all. If juicing is the only way of getting in these essential foods, it may be a good choice for you. As a general tip, we’d suggest limiting the amount of fruit in your juice and trying to maximise the number of veggies. It’s also a good idea to put your ingredients in a blender instead of a juicer if you do prefer to drink instead of eat. When you blend your fruits and veggies, you'll usually include (almost) the whole product instead of just the juice. Where pulp goes to waste in a juicer, it is included in the drink when you blend, meaning your fibre, vitamin and mineral intake will be higher.
Is fruit juice healthier than soda?
Soda is often compared to fruit juice when it comes to sugar content. It is true that a glass of fruit juice contains as much sugar as a (non-diet) soda, but there's a big ‘but’. Fruit juice still contains a considerable number of vitamins and minerals as opposed to soda. Still, you should be getting enough of those if you eat your five-a-day, so drinking only juice, just because you're worried about your vitamin and mineral intake, isn't a valid reason. That doesn’t mean you can't enjoy an occasional glass of juice (or soda, for that matter), but don't think of it as a necessary part of a healthy and balanced diet.
What are the pros and cons of juicing?
To summarise the points we made above, here's a list of what we consider to be the most important pros and cons of juicing.
- If you enjoy the process of juicing and the taste of your juice, it's a nice way to treat yourself
- Drinking fruits and vegetables is better than not eating any at all
- Juice contains a considerable number of vitamins and minerals from the ingredients you put in
- Drinking instead of eating your ingredients will result in a faster peak in blood sugar
- When separating the juice from the pulp, fibre, vitamins and minerals get wasted (more on that below)
- Purchasing a juicer can be quite an investment, as well as buying the ingredients themselves since you're likely to use more product (see our orange scenarios)
- It's not a magical ‘health-hack’ trend as some will let you believe
Is juicing a waste of food?
We touched upon this just now but allow us to elaborate. By now, it's clear that you'll throw away nutrients when discarding the pulp. But, from an environmental and food-waste perspective it's also important to think twice when throwing away food. To answer the question more concretely — yes, juicing is a waste of food if you're not using the pulp. Read on for some great ways to reuse pulp.
What can I do with leftover pulp?
You can find tons of recipes online that use juice pulp, ranging from muffins to meatballs. One of our favourite (and simplest!) recipes is to combine your pulp with a flour of choice until it forms a dough-like structure. Roll that out as thinly as possible and sprinkle with Pure Pumpkin Seeds, salt and pepper. Dry out on a low temperature in the oven for a couple of hours, et voila — you have your own pulp crackers. If you're not keen on eating your pulp, you can also choose to compost it and use it to fertilize your garden or house plants. It's interesting to see how entrepreneurs are stepping up and developing ways to reuse fruit ‘waste’ such as pulp or peels. If you've ever freshly squeezed your own orange juice using one of those machines in the supermarket, you've seen the amount of orange peels that go to waste. The Dutch PeelPioneers realised how valuable these peels are and partnered up with supermarkets to save them from the bin. They transform the peels into all sorts of products ranging from oils to fodder. An interesting field to keep an eye on, if you ask us!
If you enjoy an occasional juice, you should go for it. There are tons of different flavours you can experiment with, and we can recommend thinking out of the fruit-and-veggie-box. Consider adding spices (like cinnamon, turmeric or black pepper), Matcha Tea Powder or even a scoop of our all-time favourite protein powder. Perhaps it goes without saying but make sure to add these ingredients to your juice after you're done with the juicer. For your main fruit and vegetable intake, remember to eat instead of drink them as much as possible. Cheers!