(Diet Review) Juice Plus: The ‘Next Best Thing to Fruits and Vegetables?’
I last reviewed Juice Plus in 2016, and it has been one heck of a popular post! But since its been three years, it’s definitely time to have an update.
Since publishing my last Juice Plus review, I’ve received countless emails from Juice Plus devotees (and salespeople, natch) scolding me for my negative take on it, and saying that it has changed their lives.
Not one to discount peoples’ personal experiences, my review is, as always, going to focus on the claims that Juice Plus makes as a company, and how they stack up to science and REALITY.
Remember reality? That thing that most diet companies aren’t based in?
But I digress.
What Is Juice Plus?
For those of you who don’t know, Juice Plus is an MLM company that has been selling fruit and vegetable-infused supplement powders since 1993.
Their tagline is, “Try the next best thing to fruits and vegetables,” and the main premise of the brand appears to be that you can swap in Juice Plus supplements for the fruits and vegetables you might not get in your diet.
We already know that most North Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables, but is Juice Plus really a comparable substitute?
Hint: Pfffft. Hardly.
What’s In Juice Plus?
Juice Plus makes a really big deal about how their fruits and vegetables are ‘farm fresh’ (a completely meaningless term) and grown locally, although I have no idea how they can make that claim when their product is all over the world. The supplements are made with a ‘proprietary Juice Plus juicing and drying process,’ and contain 20 or 30 (depending on which supplement you choose) fruits, vegetables, and grains.
That sounds really interesting, but remember: eating whole foods and drinking their derivatives are two very different things.
Our culture seems to be looking for something quick and easy that boosts health and can stand in for food with as little work as possible. Juice Plus knows this and profits from that sort of thinking. They push your emotional buttons with a ‘we know you’re too busy to eat healthy, so here’s a capsule of fruit and vegetable powders to fill the holes in your diet’ sort of narrative.
Yes, the company does say that whole food is important, but there’s some sort of sneaky marketing going on that gives unsuspecting people the impression that if they don’t eat produce, they can pop a few Juice Plus capsules and get the nutrition they’re missing out on.
That’s wrong. Juice Plus is NO BETTER than whole fruits and vegetables, is MORE expensive, and has less fiber. It has antioxidants, sure – but they have no research to prove that their product contains more of them than whole foods or that it’s superior to whole foods in that regard.
I’d sure rather grab an apple than take a few capsules, wouldn’t you? How much more taxing is it to add an apple to your day instead of some $400 a month supplements?
Does Juice Plus Cure Cancer?
Juice Plus is rather infamous for its salespeoples’ egregious practice of marketing to vulnerable cancer patients as a way to ‘cure’ cancer.
Not only can Juice Plus NOT cure or prevent cancer, but for those in cancer treatment, the antioxidants in it can decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation.
The targeting of cancer patients by Juice Plus associates is so prevalent that Memorial Sloan Kettering, who I sure as hell trust more than some Juice Plus salesperson, has even put out a statement about how Juice Plus doesn’t treat or prevent cancer and shouldn’t be taken during treatment.
Mic drop, courtesy of Sloan Kettering. And good on them, too.
Juice Plus makes plenty of other claims including that their products are associated with improved cardiovascular health and immunity, better dental health, and decreased inflammation. And everything sounds very clinical and legit, until you get a look at the research. Wuh wuh.
The Research Behind Juice Plus
The Juice Plus site has a lot of photos of professional-looking people in lab coats, and constant mentions about the ‘research’ behind the Juice Plus products.
The company also has a number of videos featuring ‘experts,’ mostly physicians, touting the benefits of taking Juice Plus.
It’s like an evidence-based dream, until you wake up and realize that it never happened.
For all of the citations and research talk the website provides, it’s all just an illusion. None of the studies Juice Plus provides are very convincing.
For the most part, they have faulty methodology and don’t come up with any appreciable evidence that Juice Plus is any better than whole foods.
Also, most of the research has been done by the parent company of Juice Plus.
Juice Plus has been around for long enough for the company to have been able to produce some sort of study that uses solid methodology (and results) in all of this time, but it hasn’t. I wonder why.
The short of it is, Juice Plus hasn’t been proven to make and keep anyone healthy. It hasn’t been proven to prevent or cure disease. And as much as the company tries to say it is, the product is not well-researched.
Aside from the research, the ‘experts’ who Juice Plus features on the site are no doubt selling the product and being paid by the company as spokespeople. I’ve seen this with other commercial diet programs, and needless to say it’s pretty weak what some people will use their credential and platform to promote.
Most notably, Dr. Bob Sears, a notorious anti-vaxxer and pediatrician, is featured on the Juice Plus site as a spokesperson for Juice Plus and its family-based Healthy Start Program.
As an aside, one thing I’ve discovered from doing these diet reviews is that the biggest quacks and most disreputable ‘professionals’ are always the ones who give testimonials for bad diets and supplements. You never see really solid, reputable people endorsing shit like this, and there’s a good reason for that:
Because it’s not anything they want to be associated with.
This is also a great time to remind you that testimonials aren’t a substitute in any way for research. Just because famous people, or non-famous people with MD credentials, endorse a product, doesn’t mean it’s not crap.
Juice Plus for Kids
The Juice Plus for Kids line and the ‘Family Health Study’ are both complete scams.
Their Family Health Study involves Juice Plus customers completing yearly surveys to help study the ‘impact of taking Juice Plus on their wellness.’
It has so far found that of the kids involved, 61% were eating more fruits and vegetables, 60% were missing fewer days of school, 71% were consuming less fast food and soft drinks. 71% were drinking more water.
To the untrained eye this looks fantastic, until you realize that none of these outcomes can be directly attributed to Juice Plus. MLM Watch has published a great overview of the shitty research that is this study, but to summarize, there is no control group, the questions are vague and arbitrary, and the responses, likely biased.
I see a pattern of Juice Plus doing shitty research and using it to try and prove things about their brand that aren’t actually true.
Aside from being a grab at lifelong brand loyalty and more money made off the backs of concerned parents, the kids’ gummies are full of sugar. In fact, the first three ingredients are different types of sugar. Juice Plus says that these sugars are ‘all natural’ and that the gummies don’t contain HFCS or any artificial flavors or colors. But looking at the nutrition facts label, these supplements don’t even contain anything valuable in appreciable amounts. 24% of vitamin C and 10% of vitamin E recommendations can easily be obtained in food by even the most fruit and vegetable-phobic kids.
If you or your child aren’t eating a varied, complete diet for whatever reason, Juice Plus isn’t going to magically ‘fill in the holes’ like the company says it will.
The funny thing is that many of the people who swear by Juice Plus are probably the same people who say that we should be avoiding ‘processed food.’
Um. What do you think Juice Plus is? It’s a high-processed fruit and vegetable powder that offers none of the fiber and satiety that the whole versions of these things give us.
An RD’s Juice Plus Thoughts?
Juice Plus is a scam, has always been a scam, and probably will always be a scam.
Their claims hold no water and their research sucks.
They sneakily suggest that their product is the ‘next best thing’ to fruit and vegetables, but then imply that it can seamlessly swap in for those things to make and keep you healthier. This, of course, is false.
All of this is bullshit and gives people a false sense of security.
If you’re healthy, taking Juice Plus probably won’t hurt anything but your wallet. But why would you ever want to do that?