We all could use a little help when it comes to getting enough fruits and veggies, right? Taking a pill or even eating candy that gives you the benefits of fruits and veggies sounds too good to be true, but that’s exactly what Juice Plus+ claims to offer. Is it a dream come true or just a bunch of hype? Here’s my take on Juice Plus+ supplements.
What is Juice Plus+?
Juice Plus+ is a corporation that sells encapsulated fruit and vegetable powders and other packaged nutrition products through virtual franchise owners. They make the claim that their fruit and vegetable capsules are “the next best thing to fruits and vegetables,” because they “add the nutrition of 30 fruits, vegetables, and grains to your diet.”
image: Juice Plus
Juice Plus+ gives you “whole food based nutrition in a capsule.” They don’t claim to be a replacement for fresh fruits and vegetables, nor a medicine, treatment, or multivitamin, just an addition to a healthy diet that provides more nutrients and antioxidants than other vitamin supplements. There’s a lot of emphasis placed on the idea that these capsules are “whole food nutrition,” so let’s take a look at the “whole” ingredients in Juice Plus+ Garden Blend Capsules:
Vegetable juice powder and pulp from carrots, parsley, beets. kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and tomato; gelatin, lipase, amylase, protease, cellulase, beet fiber, barley bran, oat bran, cabbage fiber, glucomannan, plant cellulose, dried plant fiber, lactobacillus acidophilus, vegetable-derived magnesium stearate, anthocyanins, allicin, lycopene, polyphenol catechins, Dunaliella salina (algae), and indole carbinols.
The only “whole” thing about that ingredient list is the list of vegetables that have been juiced to remove natural fiber, then dehydrated into a powder – and that’s a stretch. The amount of actual vegetables you can fit into a small capsule is so minimal that this may as well be any other vitamin that contains a few antioxidant compounds. What’s more, those antioxidant compounds that can be found in fruits and veggies (anthocyanins, lycopene, polyphenol catechins, etc) are synthetic and added into the Juice Plus+ capsules as separate ingredients, rather than coming from the fruits and veggies themselves.
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So, Juice Plus+ may not be as “whole” as they’d like you to believe, but is there still some value to taking these supplements, “whole food based” or not?
What Nutrients are in Juice Plus?
Here’s what you’d get from taking 2 capsules of the Garden Blend and 2 capsules of the Orchard Blend daily (which is the recommended regimen from Juice Plus+):
Yep – that’s it. The combo of Garden Blend and Orchard Blend capsules sets you back $44.99 per month, while supplying significant amounts of just 4 vitamins and minerals. If the capsules were “the next best thing to fruits and vegetables,” you’d sure expect them to have more of the nutrients actually found in fruits and vegetables, right? The antioxidant and polyphenol content is supposedly what makes Juice Plus+ better than other multivitamins, but remember, those don’t actually come from the fruits and veggies – they’re isolated additions to the capsules!
Now we know that the fruit and vegetable content in the capsules is minimal, the antioxidants don’t actually come from those fruits and vegetables, and the capsules only provide 4 significant vitamins and minerals at a steep price. Juice Plus+ sure doesn’t seem to be the whole food-based hero it makes itself out to be, but does research back up their hype?
What Research Says About Juice Plus+
On the Juice Plus+ website, there’s an entire page dedicated to sharing the research studies specifically involving their products, and even a section with studies published in medical and scientific journals. That’s pretty impressive, but take a closer look and you’ll notice that much of this research is funded by Juice Plus+. Juice Plus+ can’t necessarily influence the outcomes of studies, but it can prevent studies that don’t favor their product from ever being published or getting anywhere near their website, so take the research they provide with a (huge) grain of salt, because it may not be the full picture.
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For example, a 2003 study suggested that 6 weeks of Juice Plus+ Supplementation significantly lowered homocysteine, an attractive outcome, since high homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The study doesn’t mention whether similar results were achieved through increased whole fruit and vegetable consumption, and didn’t test that variable (likely because Juice Plus+ funded the study). However, another study found that a multivitamin supplement other than Juice Plus+ actually produced more significant decreases in homocysteine levels in just 15 days, and yet another study found that switching from a low-folate diet to a diet high in folate-rich fruits and vegetables for 5 weeks decreased homocysteine levels more than the Juice Plus+ 6 week trial.
Many more Juice Plus+ studies share this pattern of showing positive results without considering other options, including eating whole fruits and vegetables!
Should You Try Juice Plus+?
In short: no. If you’re looking for a multivitamin but want to keep it all-natural and whole-food based, Juice Plus+ comes up short. If your busy lifestyle has you missing out on fruit and veggie servings, don’t count on the minimal amount of dried, juiced produce in Juice Plus+ to make up the difference. Even though there’s some research showing positive outcomes of Juice Plus+ supplementation, it’s almost exclusively funded by Juice Plus+ and disregards comparable or even more effective options.
My advice? Stick to real food and fruits and vegetables in their actual whole form. There’s no encapsulated shortcut for real food, so eating real fruits and vegetables is the best way to reap all their benefits!