Apples? Check. Beets? Check. Carrots? Check.
Juicing – as in extracting the juices from fruits or vegetables for consumption – has become increasingly popular over the years, but experts say that the trend is best used as a supplement to your regular diet, and even then it has its positives and negatives.
“For the general student population that I speak with, because fruits and veggies are such low-consumed food groups, I would say that juicing is more of a positive. I would definitely support juicing as an option to supplement a balanced meal,” said Darany Hoang, a health educator at the Student Health and Counseling Center.
Fruits and vegetables have long been neglected food groups, so the benefit of juicing means gaining the vitamins and minerals that students otherwise would not consume in a day’s diet.
“If someone is really just not enjoying their veggies, an option to get a few servings in is to add them in with a smoothie. Those veggies that I hear people add are anything from cucumber to celery to spinach,” Hoang said.
One popular juice recipe found online is called the “mean green,” which includes kale leaves, cucumber, celery stalks, apples and lemon.
Isaac Salazar, director of strength and conditioning, said fruits and vegetables are valuable in giving athletes optimum performance.
“Now that we are understanding how not all nutrients are created the same, we want to make sure our athletes are getting dialed-in, quality carbohydrates,” said Salazar. “We call them low-glycemic, high-fibrous carbohydrates. Those are your standard vegetables and fruits that are not high in the glycemic load that cause a spike in insulin response.”
Salazar added that the net gain of nutrients helps our body maintain itself.
“You’re getting additives of good vitamins and minerals that are going to help support bodily functions, and good antioxidants that are going to help relieve you of free radicals, or stressors, in the body that are going to cause cellular breakdown. It’s going to promote better focus and better sleeping habits,” he said.
Both Salazar and Hoang support juicing as a supplement to a person’s regular diet, but they say our bodies need more than just fruits and vegetables.
“I feel that it’s incomplete in a nutritional profile. Because we are made up of lean tissue, we need lean tissue,” Salazar said.
“Healthy lean tissue from chicken, ground beef and steak help set up good neurotransmitters throughout the day, good metabolic functions to burn fat and when you’re putting in healthy fats, you’re using good functions to burn unhealthy fats,” he added.
Juicing fruits and vegetables may be an easy way to gain your daily requirements in those food groups, but there is at least one drawback to having them in liquid form.
“My concern is the fiber gets separated in juicing, so one doesn’t get that benefit. I’m kind of in the middle, because sure you can get your vegetables in, but at the same time it’s great to have it whole,” Hoang said.
The risk of over consumption also comes into play.
“The serving size of what you’re drinking in liquid form is significantly more than what you’re eating in an actual piece of fruit or vegetable,” Hoang said.
Hoang added that over consumption has no adverse health effects, but people need to watch their caloric and sugar intake.
Nathan Castro, 21, a business major, pointed out the versatility of juicing fruits and vegetables.
“You can make whatever you like. Some people don’t like certain fruits so they just make their own concoction,” he said.
So it’s your choice whether you juice or not, but keep in mind that it’s important that juicing is only a supplement to a regular healthy diet.