Most Americans aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables, and, sadly, some non-veggie lovers think a super-size order of French fries from McDonald’s is a vegetable serving. In the quest to encourage people to get their “five-a-day”, researchers at the University of California at Davis looked at whether a veggie alternative – drinking vegetable juice would help Americans boost their vegetable intake. Here’s what they found out.
Drinking Vegetable Juice to Get More Fruits and Vegetables
Ninety volunteers were assigned to a eat a DASH diet along with either 0, 8, or 16 ounces of vegetable juice each day for three months. When researchers measured their vegetable intake while on the diet, the volunteers were only eating 2.5 servings of vegetables – despite the fact that a DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables.
The good news? Once vegetable juice was added to their fruit and veggie count, they reached their goal of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day – or close to it. The researchers concluded that drinking vegetable juice is a “can do” way for people who don’t get enough vegetables and fruit to get their daily five.
In this same study, participants who were pre-hypertensive when they started the study saw their blood pressures drop. This isn’t surprising since doctors frequently recommend the DASH diet to people who need to lower their blood pressure.
Should You Drink Vegetable Juice to Get Your Five-a-Day?
There are advantages and disadvantages to getting vegetables from vegetable juice. Eating the whole fruit or vegetable provides heart-healthy fiber you won’t get from the juice. Another drawback to drinking vegetable juice is the high salt content. Take a quick glance at the label of most commercial vegetable juices, and you’ll quickly see they’re loaded with sodium.
On the other hand, if you find it difficult to eat fruits and vegetables with your regular meals, drinking vegetable juice gives you antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that you might not otherwise get. Veggie juice does count when it’s time to tally your five-a-day. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, three-quarters of a cup of vegetable juice counts as a serving of vegetables.
Get More Fruits and Vegetables: Drink Vegetable Juice the Right Way
If you plan on drinking vegetable juice to get more fruits and vegetables, buy a juicer and make your own veggie juice at home. When you do this, you get less sodium, and you can cherry – pick the vegetables that go into your juice. Don’t forget to throw in some fruit to sweeten things up a little. Organic vegetables are a good choice, if you’re concerned about pesticide exposure, and don’t mind paying a little more.
If you don’t want to do your own juicing, look for a commercial vegetable juice that’s low in sodium – and drink to good health, but don’t forget to add some whole fruits and vegetables to your diet too.
Food and Drink Europe website. “Study makes the case for vegetable juice”