Juicing and Warfarin

By: Alere Staff

The dietary recommendations for daily servings include five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the typical American diet includes about one and a half cups of vegetables and one cup of fruit.1 If you are someone who has difficulty managing the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables we need to eat per day, you might have considered the process of juicing.

Juicing Safely

Juicing is the act of taking the juices out of fruits and vegetables, a different process than blending. In blending, ingredients are whirled and pureed together, producing smoothies and thicker drinks that retain the fiber present in whole produce. Juicing is just the juice, pressed out using a variety of different methods.1 If you wish to partake in juicing there are some safety measures you should know beforehand. One of the first things to take into consideration is making sure the produce you use is clean and free of bacteria, pesticides and dirt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, produce contaminated with harmful bacteria causes about 46 percent of food poisonings.1 Much of this contamination came from the way the produce was handled, including packing, storing and preparing. Another thing to consider is storing your juice. A juice that you’ve created can only be stored for a few hours before you drink it. Fresh squeezed juice, without pasteurization, can quickly develop harmful bacteria.3 Make sure to only make as much as you are going to drink that day.

Juicing and Your Health

The idea that juicing is a cure for bad health is still up for debate. While juicing has been said to help with issues ranging from skin disease and high blood pressure to immune disorders and cancer, there is a lack of solid scientific evidence that juicing is healthier than just eating the fruits and vegetables themselves.2 If you are having trouble with getting in all your servings, however, juicing could help. While the process of juicing removes most of the fiber from the produce, it does still contain most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals called phytonutrients.3

Should you decide to add juice to your diet, make sure to introduce it slowly into your routine. Despite what supporters of juicing might say, it is best not to live on juice alone. Drinking a glass of pressed juice with a regular, healthy diet will not hurt, but living on juice without solid food may.3,4 The key is to incorporate the juice slowly without completely replacing all of your meals. For example, start with a breakfast juice for a couple days per week. Remember that when you do add a juice to subtract another food from the meal. Do not replace the meal altogether with your juice.4

Juicing and Warfarin

If you are a patient on warfarin, juicing can be tempting but it’s important to be aware that many of the juice recipes include produce high in vitamin K. Popular combinations include mixing leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale with others like cucumber, celery and parsley, all foods that people on warfarin know have a higher Vitamin K content. Unfortunately, these foods tend to be the best items to juice, particularly if people are watching their sugar intake. A juice made with lots of fruits can be higher in sugars and a good way of keeping these sugars managed is to make juices with an 80:20 ratio.4 The juice should contain 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent juice. If you do add more fruit, adding some of the fiber content back into the juice can help to slow the absorption of sugar into the body.1

Below is a list of different juice recipes, including their ingredients and their vitamin K content.2,5

Recipe

Ingredients

Vitamin K Content (Approximately)

Level

Classic Green Drink

4 medium carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 cup of parsley, 4 spinach leaves

1,233 micrograms per serving

High

Tomato Surprise

1 medium tomato, 2 medium carrots, 1 stalk of celery, 1/2 cucumber, 3 spinach leaves

207.2 micrograms per serving

High

Carrot Cleanser

3 medium carrots, 1/2 beet, 1/2 cucumber

49.1 micrograms per serving

High

Fab Fruit Cocktail

2 medium apples, 1 cup cranberries, 1 cup of grapes

26.9 micrograms per serving

High


Looking at the vitamin K content alone of many of the juices may be overwhelming to some warfarin patients. If you are having trouble managing your fruits and vegetables and want to try a juice recipe or two, it is always a good idea to consult with your physician. They may know of ideal recipes or other ways to help. Remember that vitamin K consistency is the key in managing your INR at home. If you normally enjoy a juice recipe, let your doctor know. You may be able to manage your dose and still enjoy your vegetables.

References:

  1. Beecher, C. Juicing is healthy, but easily contaminated by pathogens. Food Safety News. Feb 17, 2017. Retrieved from the website: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/02/juicing-is-healthy-but-easily-contaminated-by-pathogens/#.WVrRKYTytQI.
  2. Ko, L. Five Things You Need to Know About Juicing. PBS: Need to Know. Aug 11, 2011. Retrieved from the website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/juicing/10814/.
  3. Zeratsky, K. RD, LD. Is Juicing Healthier Than Eating Whole Fruits or Vegetables? MayoClinic. July 16, 2016. Retrieved from the website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/juicing/faq-20058020.
  4. Glassman, K. Four Juicing Mistakes You Might Be Making (and How to Fix Them). Women’s Health. Mar 7, 2014. Retrieved from the website: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/juicing.
  5. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Version Current: September 2015, slightly revised May 2016. Internet: /nea/bhnrc/ndl.