Is juice actually healthy for you or is juicing making you gain weight?

Eating healthy can be a challenge for everyone. Healthy living is something that we should all aspire to. You’ve probably seen millions of articles on the best juicer to buy and the best juices to drink – but could drinking juice actually be making you gain weight? Is juicing unhealthy?

Healthy snacks – does juice count?

A fairly recent Harvard study about sugary drinks found that if you take exactly the same energy (calories) as a liquid instead of consuming as a solid, “you will consume more calories later because the liquefied energy doesn’t satisfy your appetite as well as the solid food.”

Thomas Campbell, MD has written a brilliant article where he talks about the perceived health benefits of juicing. He puts up a recipe for a typical “healthy” green smoothie. The smoothie would contain about 218 calories. He says that although the smoothie looks green and full of spinachy goodness, only 6% of your energy is coming from the spinach and the rest from sugary fruit.

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Is there a “best juicer” to buy or are they all the same?

Personally, I love my blender. I have bought one with a glass jug, sturdy blades, and it comes apart for easy cleaning. I spent a good amount on it too – about $100USD, which pales in comparison to some of the exorbitant prices people are paying for juicers these days.

Nutribullets, Thermomixes, Magic Bullets, the list is now endless. The thing you find with mots juicers is that they take ages to clean, have lots of fiddly little parts and cost an arm and a leg to run because you have to buy fifty bucks of vegetables each time you go on your “health kick”.

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Are juices and smoothies as bad as soft drinks?

Experts in the US say, “Yes”. According to the Guardian, “Barry Popkin and George Bray pointed the finger at high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks in 2004, causing a huge headache for the big manufacturers, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi.” And now, a decade later, they are doing the same thing with smoothies and juice.

It’s the next step in the evolution of the battle,” according to Popkin. “In every country (large multinational soft drink companies) are replacing soft drinks with fruit juice and smoothies as the new healthy beverage. So you will find that Coke and Pepsi have bought dozens (of fruit juice companies) around the globe.”

The researchers say that sugar in juices and smoothies is often overlooked, and could be a contributing factor in the world’s obesity crisis.

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So is it better to eat fruit or drink fruit juice?

It’s not always that simple! I found an interesting German study that compared an orange in three forms: whole, pulped and juiced.

The study revealed that levels of vitamin C and carotenoids were similar in juice and the whole fruit, while levels of flavonoids were much lower. But the interesting findings did not end there.

“The scientists threw their orange test foods into in a test tube model designed to mimic digestion, and much more of the carotenoids and flavonoids were released from the orange juice than from the fruit slices or mush.”

The differences between them were quite significant too. “Carotenoid release went up from nearly 11 percent in the fruit to 28 percent in the fresh juice, and up to 39.5 percent in the pasteurised juice. Meanwhile, flavonoids were boosted nearly five-fold in juice compared to fruit.” Read more about the juice vs. whole fruit findings here.

What about kids?

What if your kids don’t like vegetables, could they still enjoy vegetable juices? Easy Healthy Smoothie, says, yes. “Texture is another key element to success in smoothie making for kids and adults alike. Most kids won’t drink a smoothie that is chunky, grainy, too thick or too thin.” Check out How to Make Vegetable Smoothies Your Kids Will Love! to get more ideas.

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Skip the juice, or factor it into your daily calorie allowance

I tend to agree with the MD here. Thomas Campbell suggests, “Use your mouth and your teeth the way nature intended and put the smoothies aside or have them just as treats.”

The doctor says he used to drink smoothies in his medical school days, but has given up on them in favour of fresh, whole fruit and veg. “Compared to my medical school days,” he says, “my life is now better in many ways, and I no longer imbibe the gross, green smoothie of old. I strive to eat and chew generous portions of dark green leaves every day, and thus hope the desperate times do not return. I recommend you do the same.”

Do you think juice is healthy or unhealthy? Have you lost weight by drinking juice? Let me know in the comments below!

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