Are whole vegetables better and healthier than vegetable juice?
I’m sure we’ve all asked ourselves that question.
We’re all on the lookout for the instant version of something in the current fast paced life, .
Instant noodles, ready-to-eat lunches, just-add-water deserts, all of these becoming more popular as people’s lives seems to get busier.
Many people don’t have the time (or should I say, don’t make the time) to cook proper meals, including vegetables.
An adult needs 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day.
And in America, only 1 in every 10 adults eats enough fruits and vegetables!
It’s easy to understand why vegetable juice seems like the perfect fit: consume your daily veggies without eating or preparing it.
But you have to ask yourself: Are whole vegetables better and healthier than vegetable juice?
No, not necessarily. The main line of thought is that the juicing process destroys and excludes nutrients, but that is not always the case.
So let’s dig a bit deeper.
In this article I will discuss:
What is vegetable juice?
Vegetable juice is juice made from the edible parts of vegetables.
The story doesn’t stop there, though.
Inside vegetables, like most living things on earth, there’s water.
Water serves as a transport and storage medium, amongst other, in plants.
That means sugars, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are dissolved or suspended in water for transportation to wherever these nutrients are needed.
When you speak of the natural juices in vegetables, you would refer to this nutrient-rich water found throughout the inside of vegetables, even inside the individual cells.
However, a lot of the nutrients in plants are present in the solid parts of vegetables and cell structures.
And when you eat vegetables, you consume all these nutrients as well.
The aim of juicing vegetables is to extract as much of the nutrients as possible, and not only the liquid parts.
So when we refer to vegetable juice, we generally refer to a liquid extracted from vegetables that includes both the liquid parts and as much of the solid parts as well without giving in too much solid structure.
It should not be confused with smoothies, though.
A smoothie is the result of blending and mixing whole fruits and vegetables, so it includes all the liquid parts as well as all the edible solid parts.
This leads to the next question: What different types of vegetable juice do you get?
Different types of vegetable juice
You get different types of vegetable juice based on the way these juices are extracted from vegetables, as well as how these juices are processed after extraction.
Vegetable juice extraction
The most common way to produce vegetable juice is by pressing.
Pressed vegetable juice is made by pressing vegetables to force out as much liquid as possible.
You get different varieties of presses, from hand-operated ones to powerful hydraulic ones.
Another way of juicing is to use what is called centrifugal juicing.
That is where blades, spinning very fast, cuts the vegetables to shreds. After this, the cut-up produce is spinned very fast in a chamber with mesh on the outsides.
This spinning causes the juices to move outwards, through the mesh, from where it’s diverted to the outlet spout.
Vegetable juice post-extraction processing
The type of process involved will depend on the desired end result.
Vegetable juice can be either 100% pure with no additives, or diluted and even flavoured.
You also get juice that is pasteurized compared to others that aren’t.
Pasteurization, the same process involved in milk processing, prolongs the shelf life of juice by using heat to kill the bacteria and viruses that may be present in the juice.
How does nutrients get lost during juicing?
Firstly, there is heat involved in some processes.
This can be either during the juicing process or during the post-juicing processing.
The fast rotating blades of a centrifugal juicer causes heat which can destroy some nutrients.
Certain heat sensitive nutrients are also destroyed during the pasteurization process.
Nutrients are also destroyed by oxidation.
This is where the juice gets exposed to oxygen.
When the blades cut up vegetables in the centrifugal juicing process, it aerates the pulp and thereby introduces oxygen to it.
Cold pressed juice is hailed as the ultimate in juices because it’s made using pure pressure and no heat in the juicing process.
Yes, juicing destroys some nutrients.
And yes, most fibre is removed by the most common juicing processes.
But the heat during juicing makes other nutrients and doesn’t have much effect on nutrients like calcium and magnesium.
The argument is that fibre is being removed during juicing and that’s a bad thing.
But fibre reduces the absorption of certain nutrients and as with any balanced diet, there should be other sources of fibre in your diet as well.
There is still much debate about how healthy vegetable juice is compared to whole vegetables.
But with a balanced diet, that is besides the point.
You can’t replace whole vegetables with juice.
Vegetables juice is very healthy, and when consumed in a balanced diet that includes whole vegetables as well, you can’t go wrong.