Have you heard of Juice Plus? In the word of supplements, Juice Plus (also called Juice Plus +) is often classified as a whole food supplement. Basically it contains the extracts of 17 different fruits and vegetables in capsule form – minus the fiber and water. This is the flagship supplement. Another product, Juice Plus Vineyard Blend, contains extracts of grapes and berries. Because of its lack of fiber and water, a better definition of Juice Plus might be a food extract supplement or phytonutrient supplement. Regardless of what you call it, Juice Plus is intriguing for a couple of reasons. 1. It has a simple approach to nutrition that I personally like; no stimulants or fancy ingredients, just extracts of common fruits and vegetables. 2. When I wrote this review there were over 10 studies on Juice Plus appearing in peer reviewed journals. That makes Juice Plus different from most other similar products. So let's review the research on Juice Plus in an unbiased way. That way you can make an informed decision about whether it's right for you. Also see my review of Juice Plus side effects for more information.
Juice Plus Research
As I see it, the Juice Plus research can be grouped into the following categories:
- Juice Plus and heart disease research
- Juice Plus and exercise research
- Juice plus and immune system research
- Juice Plus and antioxidant research
- Juice Plus and pregnancy research
Juice Plus Heart Disease Research
While no study has yet shown that Juice Plus reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes or the development of heart disease, there have been some intriguing findings which suggest it may have some positive disease modifying effects.
A few early and small studies like those of Wise and associates (1996) found that Juice Plus supplementation can lead to increase in various vitamins and antioxidants like folic acid, vitamin E and phytonutrients like B carotene and lutein. While far from conclusive, in theory this might play a role in reducing heart disease and other health problems.
In 2007 Houston and associates tested Juice Plus (and the Vineyard Blend) to see if it slowed the progression of heart disease by measuring its effect on blood pressure and calcium in coronary arteries. Doctors sometimes measure the amount of calcium in coronary arteries as an indicator of heart disease progression.
The people in the Juice Plus coronary calcium study were 51 men and women with high blood pressure and pre-high blood pressure (prehypertension). People were given Juice Plus and followed for 2 years.
Results showed that those who received Juice Plus had:
- lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures
- reduced homocystine
- slower increase in coronary calcium
In theory, this appears to show Juice Plus helps slow some aspects in the development of heart disease. One problem with this study however was the lack of a placebo group.
Interestingly hemoglobin A1C –a marker of diabetes progression – also decreased significantly. That is good. Ironically, bad cholesterol (LDL), increased slightly, but significantly. That’s not good.
For some time it has been known that eating a high fat meal causes vasoconstriction (closing up) of blood vessels. In a study published by Plotnick and associates in 2003, researchers looked at the effect of Juice Plus and blood vessel health after people ate a high fat meal.
This study consisted of 38 healthy people were split into the following groups:
- Juice plus only group
- Juice plus + vineyard blend (Vineyard Blend contains grape and berry extracts)
- Placebo group
After 4 weeks, those taking either Juice Plus alone or Juice Plus and the Vineyard Blend had less vasoconstriction after eating a high fat meal, compared to people who took a placebo.
We also know that oatmeal can cause vasodilation of blood vessels. It would be interesting to see Juice Plus and oatmeal tested head to head to see which vasodilates blood vessels the most.
The study by Plotnick also noticed that the fruit/vegetable concentrate promoted a very modest (but significant) reduction in cholesterol levels after 4 weeks (cholesterol changed from 184 to 172).
Interestingly no change in cholesterol as seen in those who took both Juice Plus as well as the Vineyard Blend (cholesterol was 185 at baseline and 182 after 4 weeks). This might mean that the Vineyard Blend might not be needed.
In my own very unscientific “study” many years ago, I noticed Juice Plus alone (no Vineyard Blend) reduced cholesterol from 260 to 220 after one month. My test subject was in a friend with chronically high cholesterol levels. If Juice Plus lowers cholesterol, the effect is likely variable and would probably be most noticed in those with high cholesterol.
The gas, nitric oxide (NO) causes vasodilation (opening up of blood vessels). While the study by Plotnick did not directly measure NO levels, it did find that metabolites of nitric oxide increased after Juice Plus and Vineyard Blend supplementation.
In theory, this may indicate that Juice Plus raises NO levels. That said, it is noteworthy that the researchers stated that “There was no significant correlation between the increase in these (nitric oxide) metabolites levels and the change in vasodilation.
In other words, even though metabolites of NO increased, it appeared to play no significant role in vasodilation of blood vessels. I am not aware of any study showing the Juice Plus raises nitric oxide levels. Since vasodilation did appear to occur after taking Juice Plus, it might be that Juice Plus worked through another cellular pathway.
Keep in mind that the positive effect of Juice plus on blood vessel health was seen even when the Vineyard Blend was not taken.
Another supplement reputed to raise nitric oxide levels is beet juice. See my review of SuperBeets for more on that research.
Homocysteine is a chemical that damages blood vessels and makes blood sticky. As such, homocysteine has been implicated to be either a sign or symptom of heart disease. In 2003 a study of Juice Plus and homocysteine was published the Journal of Nutrition.
In this study, 32 men (both smokers and non smokers) were randomly assigned to either a group which received Juice Plus or a group which received a placebo. Blood samples were taken at regular intervals.
At the end of the study Juice Plus reduced homocysteine levels and raised levels of B vitamins and beta carotene. In theory, the lowering homocysteine may mean a lower risk of heart disease.
However, this study has been criticized by other researchers, which puts its conclusions in doubt.
It is also interesting that the Juice Plus study by Plotnick (2003) did not find the supplement lowered homocysteine.
This is contrasted by the results of Panunzioa and associates (2003) who demonstrated that Juice Plus lowered homocysteine levels when they studied 26 people for 4 weeks.
Later, in 2007 Kawashima and colleagues studied juice plus in 60 Japanese people for 4 weeks. They likewise noticed Juice Plus lowered homocystine as well as reducing markers of free radical damage.
Remember, lowering homocystine is controversial when it comes to heart disease. For example, some research finds that lowering homocysteine with folic acid does not reduce the risk heart disease. Juice Plus has more than folic acid but studies like this remind us that heart disease is a complex issue.
Long term, low grade inflammation is related to heart disease and many other health problems. In a 2017 study , 56 overweight adults were given either juice plus or a placebo for 8 weeks. The researchers wanted to see if the fruit and vegetable concentrate supplement would reduce inflammation caused by being overweight. The people took either a 6 capsules of a placebo or 6 capsules of fruit and vegetable supplements (4 Juice Plus and 2 orchard blend) per day. Those taking juice plus showed reductions in cholesterol, LDL although CRP ( a measurment of cellular inflammation) did not change.
See the Kyolic Aged Garlic extract review for more on that supplement and heart disease.
Juice Plus Exercise Research
In a Juice Plus exercise study Bloomer and associates (2006) tested juice plus in 48 healthy men and women. All people exercised at least 3 times per week and no one took any antioxidant supplements for at least 6 months. People were split into the following groups:
- Control group (placebo)
- Juice Plus group
- Vitamin group (400 IU vitamin E + 1000 mg vitamin C)
The Juice Plus group received 1 fruit capsule, 1 veggie capsule and 1 Vineyard Blend capsule twice a day (total of 6 capsules per day).
People performed 3 exercise treadmill testes at 80% of their maximum aerobic ability.
- 1 test before supplementation
- 1 test after 2 weeks of supplementation
- 1 test after a week of no supplementation
Results. Both vitamin use and Juice Plus resulted in “modest” suppression of protein breakdown during exercise after 2 weeks. This is good because we dont want our muscles being digested for energy during exercise.
Neither Juice Plus or vitamin supplementation reduced levels of MDA (malondialdehyde) an indicator of oxidative (free radical) stress. This is ironic since Juice Plus has antioxidants which should reduce free radical stress.
Researchers also noted that neither the vitamin or Juice Plus supplementation altered aerobic performance or decreased how hard exercise felt.
In this study, I would have liked to see a group that did not take Vineyard Blend. It is hard to tell what effect, if any, the Vineyard Blend contributed to the results. Also read Juice Plus Questions and Answers for more on my thoughts about the Vineyard Blend.
In another exercise study, Lamprecht and associates (2007) performed a 28 week investigation of Juice Plus in 41 police officers.
The researchers noted that those getting Juice Plus had fewer sick days (108 vs. 134) over the 28 week period. This difference was not “significant”.
Even though this was scientifically “not significant” it was 26 fewer sick days. I call a month fewer sick days real world significant
A confusing part of this study concerned tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF is a chemical the body’s immune cells make. It can destroy cancer and it also increases inflammation. The Lamprecht study noted that TNF increased for the first 8 weeks of the study and then decreased (in both Juice Plus and placebo groups) for the remaining 20 weeks of the study.
While TNF decreased in both Juice plus and placebo groups – it decreased much more in the Juice Plus group.
Previous research has shown that long term exercise can decrease TNF.
As such, long term use of Juice Plus could be seen as something that might reduce TNF a little more than exercise alone. But, any statement that Juice Plus is the cause of TNF reduction during exercise deserves better research to know for sure.
An increase in TNF is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact some rheumatoid arthritis drugs work by blocking TNF. In the Lamprecht study, those getting Juice Plus had a greater increase in TNF for the first 4 weeks than people getting a placebo.
Would Juice Plus make arthritis or other autoimmune disorders worse during the first month of use? Or was it a fluke? I do not know. I am not aware of any Juice Plus study that looked at TNF and pain levels in people with arthritis.
Even though Juice plus has several studies that show it has very few side effects, it has not been rigorously tested in people who have health conditions.
Also read Juice Plus side effects review for more insights.
Juice Plus Lung Function Research
In 2011, researchers looked at Juice Plus and oxidative stress (free radical stress) in heavy smokers. The study involved 101 heavy smokers (more than 20 cigarettes per day) who smoked for more than 10 years. 75 people completed the study. The people were randomly given either:
- A placebo
- Juice Plus
- Juice Plus + Vineyard blend (berry blend)
Those who received Juice Plus as well as the Juice Plus /Vineyard combination saw significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) and free radical damage.
In 2013, researchers looked at Juice Plus in smokers. The subjects were 75 men and women who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day for at least 10 years. This study used a subset of the previous 2011 study of Juice Plus and smokers mentioned above. The people in this study were randomly assigned to these groups for the 3 month study:
- Placebo group
- Juice Plus group (2 fruit and 2 veggie capsules per day)
- Juice Plus +Vineyard Blend
Those getting the Juice Plus + the Vineyard blend consumed 6 capsules per day (2 fruit 2 veggie and 2 Vineyard blend capsules).
Compared to the placebo group, those getting Juice Plus + Vineyard capsules showed significant reductions in homocysteine and improved lung function. Those taking only Juice Plus (no Vineyard blend) saw a slight (but not significant) improvement in lung function compared to the placebo group. The Juice Plus only group also saw a significant reduction in homocysteine levels.
Juice Plus Immunity Research
So far I could only locate 2 studies of Juice Plus and immunity. The immune system research is an area I would like more effort devoted to.
Nantz and associates in 2006 tested Juice Plus in 59 healthy law students (21-53 years of age) for 77 days. Blood tests showed a 30% increase in T cells and a 40% reduction in DNA damage in lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) in those who took Juice Plus.
Inserra and colleagues (1999) tested Juice Plus in 53 older smokers and non smokers for 80 days. They noted that Juice Plus increased the activity of Natural killer cells (NK cells) as well as Interleukin 2 levels.
Juice Plus Preeclampsia Research
Preeclampsia refers to a dangerous elevation in blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy. Left untreated, pre-eclampsia can cause organ damage and can be deadly. Needless to say, pregnant women are routinely monitored for this condition.
Unpublished research has hinted that Juice Plus might help reduce preeclampsia but without hard proof, it was difficult to know for sure if it helped or not.
In 2013, a Juice Plus preeclampsia study was published in the Journal of Perinatology. In this study 684 women were randomly given either Juice Plus or a placebo daily before the 12th week of pregnancy, until they delivered.
The women took either 4 juice plus capsules per day or 4 capsules of a placebo per day. In both cases, the women took two capsules twice daily of either Juice Plus or the placebo capsules.
After the study, researchers saw no differences in the rates of preeclampsia . The risk of getting preeclampsia seemed similar whether or not women took took juice plus or a placebo (preeclampsia occurred in about 16% of both groups). Juice Plus also seemed to have no effect on the severity of the preeclampsia symptoms either.
Interestingly, the babies of the women who took juice plus did appear to have fewer respiratory problems and had lower rates of admissions to theneonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of hospitals compared to babies born to women who took the placebo. While this effect was not statistically “significant” it sounded “real world” significant given that the NICU admission rate was 15% in placebo takers but only 5% in juice plus takers.
This study had a high drop out rate. Of the 684 women enrolled in the study, only 39% (267 women) completed the study. Both the Juice Plus group and placebo group had similar rates of drop out. This tells us that the drop out rate was not due to any side effects from taking Juice Plus.
This is an intriguing study that had a pretty large number of women. While it did not find juice plus lowered preeclampsia, it did not entirely show Juice Plus as a failure either. I'm looking forward to other studies on preeclampsia.
Juice Plus Alternatives
I believe it's the research on Juice Plus that has fostered the creation of several other supplements. Just a few I found on Amazon include:
Of these, Juice Festiv appears to garner the most attention by people. Here is my review on JuiceFestive for those who want more information on that product. Are these other supplements as good or better than Juice Plus? Its hard to say. It would take head-to-head studies to know for sure.
Does Juice Plus Work?
Overall, the research on Juice Plus is interesting. I see more research on Juice Plus than on any other similar supplement. For a better understanding on whether Juice Plus works for you or not, I suggest getting a full blood test first and then again after a few months and comparing the results. That's good advice no matter what fruit and vegetable supplement you try.
Here's Juice Plus on Amazon if you want to see what others are saying.