We dig into the world of ‘healthy’ juice shots to see if they’re really as good for you as they claim.
When someone in the office grimaces at their desk, you can bet it’s one of two things: a demanding email or the fact that they’ve just downed a juice shot full of spicy or grassy ingredients.
These shots are so common that they’re now available in most mainstream shops and cafes. Grabbing them is akin to picking up a flat white en route to the office or spooning tomato soup when you feel unwell.
But is there any science behind these tiny drinks to suggest that they’re really doing us any good? Or are they just another one of the wellness world’s false promises?
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What is in juice shots?
Though they’re dubbed juice shots, typically they come loaded with green vegetables and spices like ginger or turmeric.
Like a regular glass of juice, the biggest benefit to shots is that they offer a high concentration of nutrients in a small dose. “Many of juice shots’ claims lie in the fact that they can deliver concentrated nutrients directly to your body, without having to go through the process of chewing and digesting a meal,” says registered nutritionist Eli Brecher.
Many juice shots promise results such as an immune ‘boost’ or more energy. “However, there have not been any significant clinical studies to demonstrate that these shots offer any of the benefits stated,” adds Brecher.
Do health shots work?
While the shots may not have been studied, we can figure out whether there’s really any good stuff in them by looking at the ingredients themselves. “A juice shot packed full of nutritious vegetables like spinach, celery and carrots may provide you with a dose of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that may potentially leave you feeling ‘energised’ for a couple of hours,” says Brecher.
The science also backs the idea that there are some ingredients that work quickly. Beetroot, for instance, has been shown to increase nitrate levels in your blood within three hours of consumption and is associated with almost-immediate benefits to performance.
“You would also need to eat a lot of beetroot to obtain enough nitrate required for performance [improvements], so it is usually more convenient to consume a more concentrated dose such as beetroot juice,” sports nutritionist Mikari Scipioni previously told Stylist. Other ingredients like guarana seed contains caffeine, which can have an immediate stimulating effect.
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But nutrition is a long term strategy rather than a quick fix, and one shot isn’t enough to create long-term health differences. Immunity, for instance, is only improved through long-term health behaviours. So will these shots make a difference if you drink them daily?
“Certain ingredients in juice shots may offer health benefits when consumed at high doses and on a regular basis,” Brecher says. Checking the ingredients is important, too: “While juice shots contain high sources of the key ingredient, many mix them with sweeter juices to make them more palatable. For instance, one of the most popular ginger shots on the high street is in fact 75% apple juice and only 25% ginger,” says Brecher.
Even so, the benefits of ginger, including beating nausea, joint stiffness and muscle pain, have been shown by taking doses of 1-3g a day – so 25ml from a 100ml shot probably does deliver on some elements of your health.
The best way to get nutrients
Isolated nutrients aren’t always the best way to improve your health. “Ginger has been associated with worsening heartburn and drinking straight apple cider vinegar can damage your tooth enamel,” explains Brecher.
Plus, a meal-first approach to healthy ingredients may be beneficial as many nutrients work best when they are paired with other foods. “For example, turmeric is not particularly bioavailable – meaning it’s not easily absorbed when taken alone. Combining it with a pinch of black pepper as well as a source of healthy fat, such as olive oil, makes turmeric more potent, which is why traditional uses of turmeric in curries and stews is more beneficial,” adds Brecher.
Then there’s the cost. With some juice shots being around £2 a pop, it can make more sense to just eat the fresh vegetables. Alternatively, you can make your own with a juicer or blender (the latter of which will maintain the fibre of the plant, too).
Really, whether or not you take juice shots is down to you. A high dose of goodness probably won’t do you any harm, and may even deliver health benefits in the short- or long-term. But for affordable, sustainable wellbeing, it’s probably best to focus on your everyday diet, rather than something you down in 10 seconds.
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