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Are Juice Boosters Worth a Shot?

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Wheatgrass shots are so 1999. Today, juice and smoothie companies are offering an array of mini drinks featuring algae, sea buckthorn, tart cherry, aloe vera, and much more that claim to do everything from boost your energy to brighten your skin. (These 14 Super Smoothie Boosters claim similar benefits!) But for as much as $4 per one-ounce sip, can the teeny drink truly make a difference?

It depends, says Angela Stanford, R.D., founder of Vital Nutrition & Wellness in Danville, CA. If you eat a whole-food based diet, Stanford says a shot could count toward your daily fruit and veggie quota since it takes several pieces of produce to create a single drink. On the other hand, a shot of juice isn't going to make a difference if the majority of your diet consists of high-fat, high-sugar processed foods. That's because there aren’t enough nutrients in a single shot to counteract the damage that an unhealthy diet can do.

When you consider the price of these juice shots, Stanford points out that you can get a lot of organic produce for just $4. "Cold-pressed juices maintain some of the pulp and fiber, but don't compare to consuming a whole fruit or vegetable." Some juice shots are also made entirely of fruit, which can cause your insulin levels to spike, resulting in a blood sugar crash and food cravings soon after.

When shopping for a boost, Stanford offers these guidelines to make sure you're deriving as much as possible from every drop. (Or learn to Make a $10 Smoothie at Home!)

1. Look beyond the name. "Juice and smoothie companies tend to give boosts fancy names that can distract you from what's really in them," she says. Ignore the monikers and check out the ingredients instead. Choose a vegetable-based juice to maximize nutrients while keeping blood sugar levels in check.

2. Skip powder-based boosters. Make sure that the drink is made with whole fruits and vegetables and not concentrated powders. "Powders are often highly processed that strip a lot of vitamins, minerals, and fiber from the foods and then have those nutrients synthetically added back into the powder," Stanford says. Our bodies absorb vitamins and minerals from whole foods much better than they do from supplements.

3. Go organic. "You want to make sure that what you're taking in is as clean and as devoid of toxins as possible," Stanford says.

4. Consider probiotics. If you have difficulty digesting dairy, a probiotic boost can be a great way to consume the good-for-you bacteria that are often found in yogurt and kefir, Stanford says. Probiotics are linked with better digestion, improved immunity, and a slew of other health benefits.

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