The Pros and Cons of Juicing

Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet is critical to maintain good health, and juicing can provide you with a quick and easy way to get your daily requirement of the vitamins and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.

Other pluses include the juice you prepare yourself will taste better than its store-bought counterpart because it doesn't need to be heat-treated to kill germs to make it safe for storage. It's also generally easier to digest than eating whole fruits and vegetables.

However, there are some drawbacks to juicing. For one, the process of juicing eliminates fiber. One of the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables is to increase your source of heart- and digestive-healthy fiber. Also keep in mind that unless you drink your home-squeezed juice right away, you run the risk of contamination by exposing it to air and pathogens. And then there is the expense of buying a juicer and the time investment needed to prepare the fruits and vegetables you're using and the cleanup afterward.

So should or shouldn't you juice? The answer depends on your and your family's preference. If it's unlikely that you'll get the necessary daily requirement of fruits and vegetables any other way, then juicing could make sense for you. If, on the other hand, it's easy for you and your family to get fresh fruits and vegetables in meals and snacks throughout the day, then juicing may not be advantageous for you.

 What You Need

The latest dietary guidelines from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, U.S. Department of Agriculture, call for between five and thirteen servings (2½ to 6½ cups) a day depending on your total caloric intake.

For example, if you need 2,000 calories a day to maintain your current weight and health, you should get nine servings or 4½ cups a day (two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables).

 Reaping the Health Benefits

In addition to the heart-health and possible cancer protection benefits, eating fruits and vegetables can improve your gastrointestinal health in several ways. The fiber in fruit and vegetables passes through the digestive system soaking up water, which can help calm the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and trigger regular bowel movements. You'll also find that the bulking and softening action of insoluble fiber in fruits and vegetables can decrease pressure inside the intestinal tract, possibly preventing diverticulitis, the painful inflammation of pouches inside the colon.