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Is juicing the secret to better health or just another diet fad?

Juicing has been a popular health trend for a while and it’s easy to see why – the idea of fitting most of your daily fruit and vegetable requirements into a tasty drink sounds appealing. But is juicing as healthy as advocates claim? Lena Beal, MS, RDN, LD, a licensed and registered therapeutic dietitian at Piedmont, weighs in.

“Drinking fruit or vegetable juice can be healthful and refreshing,” she says. “It’s one way to ensure you're getting plenty of produce in your diet and fill in gaps of whole fruit and vegetable intake.”

Myths about juicing

While juicing has some health benefits, it’s also important to know some health claims are unsubstantiated.

Claim: Juicing is healthier than eating whole vegetables and fruits because it gives your digestive system a break from digesting fiber and allows you to absorb nutrients better.

Fact: Juice from fresh produce does include most of the minerals, vitamins and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in whole vegetables and fruit, but it’s missing fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol.

Claim: Drinking fresh juice can boost your immunity, detox your body, improve digestion, help prevent cancer and help you lose weight.

Fact: While juicing has health benefits, no scientific evidence shows it’s better for you than eating vegetables or fruit in their whole state, says Beal.

Juicing safety

Fresh juice also has a risk of contamination, thanks to bacteria found on the outside of produce. Before juicing at home, wash your fruits and vegetables under running water and dry them with a clean cloth to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

If you purchase juice from a grocery store or juice bar, consider buying a pasteurized product. Pregnant women, infants, young children, people with weakened immune systems and older adults should only consume pasteurized juice.

Enjoy juice in moderation

“Fruit is naturally high in sugar,” says Beal. “When you drink juice, you could consume liquid from several pieces of fruit, which can add up to several hundred calories.”

To avoid unwanted weight gain and prevent blood sugar spikes, keep your juice portions small.

To lower the glycemic index of fresh juice – and prevent blood sugar spikes – add protein and fiber to your juice. Beal recommends the following add-ins:

“Have fun experimenting with different recipes to make juicing a complete, balanced nutritional alternative and to find a taste that suits you,” says Beal.

Check out more nutrition tips from Living Better experts.