Juice Plus – ‘The next best thing to fruit and veg’ …..More fad than fact?

We all know how important it is to incorporate fruit and vegetables into our daily diet, but it can be difficult and expensive to keep this up.

This is where Juice Plus (JP) comes in – a brand offering dietary supplements that contain 30 different kinds of powdered fruits, vegetables and berries to ‘bridge the gap between what you actually eat and what you SHOULD eat.’

There is a lot of hype around the brand, including many personal testimonials floating around the internet, claiming Juice Plus has reversed cases of cancer and treated other diseases. This is often the case when a product, like JP, is sold through multi-level marketing (often referred to as pyramid schemes).

What is in juice plus and is it worth the £57.75/ month price tag?

You have to sign up for four months, so the actual cost is £231.00. This price includes three products per month: a berry blend, a fruit blend and a vegetable blend.

In summary each product contains vitamins A, C, E, and folate. Plus antioxidants and digestive enzymes.

You can easily get the amount of vitamins provided by JP in normal portions of fruits and vegetables– as demonstrated below, and at a much smaller cost!

β-carotene* 1.8mg    = ¼ cup dried apricot

Vitamin C    200mg    = one cup of bell peppers

Vitamin E    8mg         = 1 cup cooked spinach

Folate          140μg        = ½ cup cooked pasta

* a precursor of Vitamin A

The digestive enzymes are papain and fruit bromelain, found in papaya and pineapple respectively. They are an unnecessary addition, as almost everyone has sufficient digestive enzymes in their gut. If you don’t, Juice Plus certainly isn’t going to help you.

The antioxidants present are bioflavonoids. Rich sources include: wine, olive oil, apples, green tea, berries and citrus fruits. It is not necessary to buy antioxidant supplements.

Juice Plus claims to be the next best thing to fruit and vegetables. This is a concerning claim for two reasons:

(1) It gives the impression that JP is nutritionally almost equal to fruits and vegetables. This is misleading, as a fruit and veg supplement does not contain the fibre and phytochemicals provided in the whole fruit or veg.

(2) With fruits and vegetables a dietitians advice will be the more the merrier! The five- a-day target is not a limit. This is not the case with supplements; they should not be taken haphazardly. Supplements taken in high amounts can but health at risk, especially in children.

Beware of the chewables!

This is the JP product aimed at children. They recommend : 2 fruit, 2 vegetable and 2 selected berry Soft Chews per day.

The amount of dried fruit in the chewable is incredibly low (around 7%) and therefore doesn’t confer much nutritional benefit at all except for a large dosage of added sugars. Disguised in the ingredients list is Tapioca Syrup, cane juice , vegetable oil and gelling agents. Not so healthy after all! Interestingly, JP do not provide information on the exact amount of sugars in their products.

But aren’t the benefits of JP supported by strong scientific research?

No.

All of the studies suggesting the use of JP has positive health effects were funded by JP themselves. You can find them here: http://www.juiceplus.com/gb/en/clinical-research/study-results

 Research flaws include:

  • Many of the subjects were consuming less than 4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day before receiving Juice Plus- putting them at risk of deficiencies – therefore it is not surprising that adding Vit A, C, E and folate to their diet in the form of JP improved their health outcomes.
  • Each study follows a similar pattern – they state JP contains Vit A, C, E. They continue to cite the health benefits associated with each vitamin. So all that’s being said here, is that supplementing with these vitamins (in individuals that were at risk of deficiency), unsurprisingly led to improvement in health outcomes.
  • At no point in any study is JP compared to a multivitamin supplement.
  • The studies have <50 participants, not large enough to reach a conclusive result.
  • Many of the participants smoke. The health of smokers rapidly improves with Vitamin C supplementation – shown in many other studies. Therefore this confounds the results.

 Verdict: Unfortunately, good health cannot be captured in a pill.

Spend the £57.75 on fresh fruit and vegetables, and if you really want to use a dietary supplement, a multivitamin will provide a wider variety of vitamins and minerals and costs far less. Always purchase from a reputable source and check the label for dosage.

If you find it hard to fit five portions of fruit and veg into your diet daily, try tinned or frozen fruit or veg. The nutrient content of these pre prepared products is equal to that of fresh veg in many cases (see previous FTF post) – they are also cheaper, last longer and quicker to prepare.

Image: http://www.juiceplus.com

 

 

 

 

 

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