Q: Is vegetable juice like V-8 a “super food”? The nutrients listed on its label are impressive.
A: It’s a healthful drink, but many whole vegetables are even more “super.” V-8 and similar products typically contain the juices of tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach. They are somewhat more nutritious than tomato juice, supplying about twice as much beta carotene and vitamin C (nearly a day’s worth of the vitamin in six ounces).
The mix of juices contains a greater variety of potentially beneficial plant chemicals than tomato juice alone. Compared to fruit juices, vegetable juices are low in sugar and thus calories (about 50 in a cup).
There are three problems with drinking canned or bottled vegetable juice as a substitute for vegetables. Many are high in added sodium—about 480 milligrams per cup; low-sodium versions have 140 milligrams. They contain only a little fiber (just two grams). Finally, veggies such as leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes provide a greater variety of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial substances than the juice—and they are much more filling.
A glass or two of reduced-sodium vegetable juice daily is better than no veggies at all, and a lot better than sugary soft drinks. But juice can’t replace whole vegetables.