Q: What are the benefits of drinking raw fruit and vegetable juices vs. eating the whole foods?
A: There aren't any benefits to drinking fruit juice over eating whole fruits. In fact, eating whole fruit is a better choice. In regards to vegetables, the only benefit to vegetables juices is that it might enhance your consumption of vegetables; but you'll miss out on some key health benefits by juicing.
One of the benefits of eating vegetables is that they have low energy density, meaning that you can eat a lot of vegetables (a large volume of food) without eating a lot of calories. This has powerful implications when it comes to weight loss—eating fewer calories while still feeling full and satisfied. Plus, research shows that if you eat a small salad before your main meal, you will eat fewer overall calories during that meal. Drinking water prior to a meal, however, has no effect on how many calories you will eat, and it doesn't increase feelings of fullness. Vegetable juice is comparable to water in this situation.
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According to a study published in the journal Appetite, when researchers looked at eating fruits in different forms (apple juice, apple sauce, whole apple), the juiced version performed the poorest in regards to increasing feelings of fullness. Meanwhile, eating the whole fruit increased fullness and decreased the number of calories study participants at by 15 percent in the meal that followed.
So juicing isn't going to help your weight-loss efforts, but health is not all about weight loss. Will juicing make you healthier? Not exactly. Juicing doesn't give your body access to more nutrients; it actually decreases nutrient availability. When you juice a fruit or vegetable, you remove all of the fiber, a key healthy characteristic of fruits and vegetables.
If you need to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet, my advice is to simply eat more fruits and vegetables in their whole form. Make vegetables, not grains, the foundation of every meal—you won't have any trouble meeting your vegetable intake goals, eating fewer calories, or feeling satisfied after each meal.
Meet the Diet Doctor: Mike Roussell, PhD
Author, speaker, and nutritional consultant Mike Roussell holds a bachelor degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. Mike is the founder of Naked Nutrition, LLC, a multimedia nutrition company that provides health and nutrition solutions directly to consumers and industry professionals via DVDs, books, ebooks, audio programs, monthly newsletters, live events, and white papers. To learn more, check out Dr. Roussell's popular diet and nutrition blog, MikeRoussell.com.