It’s no surprise that in an effort to live healthier, vegetable juicing has become so popular with countertop juicers in many kitchens. But before you join the juicing for health craze, it’s important to understand what these drinks can, and can’t, do for your overall health.
If you don’t like to eat fruits and veggies as whole foods, juicing is one way to help you get your 5 a day, helping you to meet the daily recommendations for intake in a single, tasty drink.
But, experts warn, don’t rely on juicing as the only way to eat good-for-you fruits and veggies. You’re not off the hook for eating these foods just because you’re choosing healthier beverages. You still want to try for two servings fruits and three or four of veggies a day, opting for a range of colors, as each brings varying vitamins and minerals to the body, in addition to what you drink.
If you go online you’ll find lots of juicing fans, as well as claims about what juicing can do for you. You might hear that juicing can increase your immune system and lower the risk of cancer. And while it is true that consuming a mainly plant-based diet is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, there’s not much research on juicing.
What studies have been done on juicing and the immune system find benefits, but these are likely due to the consumption of fruits and veggies, in juice or in solid form.
Some use juicing to encourage extreme weight loss. Trouble is you can’t keep it up for long, and it’s unlikely you’re getting enough fiber to give you a sensation of fullness. Juice only diets leave you far more tempted to give into eating unhealthy foods because of the restriction. Protein too is likely limited, and this causes you to lose muscle instead of fat, which is not the way to go – research has consistently shown that protein is vital to preserving muscle mass while trying to shift unwanted pounds.
In terms of cleansing the body, experts contend that the liver and kidneys do that just fine on their own, whether you’re juicing or not. There’s no research or paper that supports the idea of cleansing happening because you’re drinking juice.
Fans also claim that juicing is superior to eating whole fruits or veggies because the body absorbs the nutrients more easily, giving the digestive tract a rest from fiber. However, the juice, having been processed by the juicer, won’t have the same nutrients as the whole food.
You see juicing machines remove the juice from fruits or veggies, a process that reduces the number of nutrients because the skin is taken off. Juicing also takes away the pulp, a source of beneficial fiber. Although, you can always add some of this back to the juice, or use it for cooking by adding it to muffins or cakes, or using it as broth for soup, rice or pasta.
Another thing, juicing machines aren’t cheap – ranging in price from $50 to as much as $400. Some of the more expensive models do break down more of the items you put in by grinding up the core, rind or even the seeds of a fruit or veggie. But, you don’t need the fancy juicing machine to make your own juice; your household blender will work great for the majority of whole fruits or veggies, keeping the fiber in the mix. Just add water if the mixture gets too thick, and remove some seeds, rinds and certain skins.
When juicing, you need to think about the calories and sugar you’re taking in. A mid sized piece of fruit has almost 60 calories, a cup of veggies only about 25. Each 60 calories of fruit works out to almost 4 ounces of liquid… and a typical serving of juice is 12 – 16 ounces. The calories can add up, especially if you’re using lots of fruits in your juices.
To add more protein to juices consider almond milk, yogurt, flaxseed or even peanut butter.
When you juice, be sure to follow some common sense safety guidance…
– Wash you hands before preparing the fruits, veggies.
– Thoroughly wash the produce by gently rubbing it under running water.
– Wash the juicer unit in hot, soapy water and let all parts dry completely before putting away. If it’s dishwasher safe, use the sanitize cycle.
– Drink juice the same day, as it isn’t pasteurized, and it’s not recommended to keep juice for longer than 1 week.
If you decide to give vegetable juicing for health try, talk to your healthcare provider about your plans. Large volumes of foods that are rich in vitamin K (kale and spinach for example) might change how a drug you’re taking now works.