Juice Plus™, Food or Supplement

Physicians and nutrition experts recommend five servings of fruits and vegetables per day for better health. The vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants provided by fruits and vegetables promote health by lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. The five servings may be enjoyed as juice in the morning, for example, a cooked vegetable, a baked potato and salad with the evening meal, and maybe a fruit for snack. Fruits and vegetables are versatile, easy to fix, and economical. However, there are some who argue this isn't so. They say people are too busy to eat, let alone prepare five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. They may encourage drinking them as juice because that is quicker and easier. Then better yet, how about just taking capsules of dried juice... that's even faster.

Some entrepreneurs have developed a product designed for people too busy to eat and enjoy food. Take Juice Plus™ Orchard Blend (dried fruit juices) in gelatin capsules in the morning and Juice Plus™ Garden Blend (dried vegetable juices) in gelatin capsules at dinner time. Salespeople armed with impressive sounding promotional literature are selling these products and making money. A months supply of capsules costs $90.00. A gallon of fresh orange juice costs $ .09 per serving.

The promotional literature for Juice Plus™ billed as a whole food concentrate is a carefully worded blend of incorrect information, misleading health claims, and nonscientific jargon. It makes a big point about "active" enzymes in the capsules. The enzymes listed on the label are bromelain and papain which are two enzymes used in meat tenderizers; lipase, amylase, and protease which are digestive enzymes produced in saliva and the digestive system when food is consumed; and a curious enzyme called cellulase. If cellulase digests cellulose, it may benefit cows- but humans don't need it. Actually, humans don't need to take any of these enzymes in capsule because we make all we need in our digestive tracts. The claim that having to make our own digestive enzymes weakens our immune system and hastens aging is patently false.

The product contains "food actives" which supposedly are good for you. They do not explain what they are and food actives is not a term used in reliable, scientific literature.

Fiber is promoted as being very beneficial, and the capsules list plant cellulose as an ingredient. Saw dust is a plant cellulose and hit the headlines when a bread manufacturer used it in a high fiber bread. Since fiber is lost when vegetables and fruits are made into juice (and then dried), the capsules no doubt contain added fiber that was not part of the original vegetable or fruit. You can get more fiber by eating the vegetables and fruits cooked or raw.

Some examples of false information in the promotional literature:

*Carrots and barley are rich in vitamin B12. In fact B12 is found only in foods of animal origin.

*Kale contains 40 times more calcium than milk. In fact, kale has 90 mg. calcium per serving and milk, 290.

*Cranberry removes toxins and poisons, fights viruses, cleans liver, cleans prostrate, prevents sterility. This is pure fiction.

Juice Plus™ is promoted as a food-not a supplement. If Juice Plus TM is a supplement, the company has until April 1995 to conform to new labeling regulations passed by the Food and Drug Administration regarding dietary supplements.

Juice Plus™ probably won't harm you, but can hurt your pocketbook.

Prepared by: Fudeko T. Maruyama, Ph.D., R.D., State Extension Specialist, Food and Nutrition, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Adapted by Mary P. Clarke, Extension Specialist, Nutrition Education

Mary Clarke, Ph.D.
Extension Specialist, Nutrition Education


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.