It’s not always easy to get the recommended five to nine daily servings of fresh fruit and veggies. That’s why I love fresh juices and smoothies. They offer a convenient, efficient way to accomplish that goal!
The healthiest juices and smoothies are filled with dense, leafy vegetables. If you’re just starting out, I recommend adding one or two fruits to make your juice or smoothie more palatable. You can add half a serving of apple, pear, pineapple OR berries. Carrots and beets are also a great way to sweeten our green drink while contributing less sugar. Lemon, cucumber and coconut water also helps to balance out the taste. As you get used to the green taste, your goal is to have a 4 to 1 ratio of veggies to fruit.
Here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of juicing.
We should all be eating more fresh vegetables. In the best of all possible worlds, we’d enjoy fresh organic produce several times a day. Yeah, yeah, yeah. In the real world, it can be challenging to meet that quota. If your diet consistently comes up short on fruits and vegetables, juicing can help!
I’m not talking about commercial juice drinks (no hyper-sweet fruit-punch-style concoctions), but vibrant, nutrient-packed juices made with hearty vegetables — kale, broccoli, spinach, and sweet peppers, for example — and perhaps a little fresh fruit added mostly for flavor.
Juicing is a fast, easy way to get your vegetables, and can also help prevent a variety of ailments and disease. (Note: juicing is different from blending smoothies. I’ll cover that in another blog!)
Juicing at home as the best way to guarantee the freshness and quality of your ingredients, and to tinker with the ingredients to find what you like best. A big part of the nutritional bang of juicing comes from drinking it fresh. Many commercially prepared drinks have been pasteurized or have preservatives so they last on the shelf. Either way, they’re not as fresh as when you opt for juicing at home.
Still, if you don’t have time to juice, there are also great juice bars out there – you might have one in your own neighborhood! Just be sure to check the ingredients and ask where they get their produce.
While juicing vegetables and fruits is a great way to get your daily fresh produce, it’s important to remember that even the best juices can’t replace whole foods. So, keep eating your whole veggies and fruits, too!
If you’re ready to start sipping your way to better health, here’s what you need to know.
- Balance veggies and fruits. Because they’re easier to grab and eat on the run, people tend to eat more fruits than vegetables. So when you’re juicing, strive for three to four parts vegetables (including at least two green vegetables) and one part fruit. This also reduces the total sugar content.
- Sweeten judiciously. While kale and spinach might taste bitter to you, I promise that your palate will adjust, especially if you add half an apple or a handful of blueberries. You can also try adding cinnamon or pure vanilla. When some people begin juicing, they find that a teaspoon of honey adds the sweet flavor they need.
- Drink within 15 minutes. It’s best to enjoy your juice immediately after it’s made. Nutrient loss starts as soon as the liquid is exposed to oxygen. If that’s not possible, store your juice briefly in a mason jar with a tight seal, in the refrigerator.
- Maintain quality control. Use organic produce whenever possible. Since you’re putting a lot of veggies and fruits in your drink, you’re not only getting all the goodness of vitamins and minerals, but you’re also exposed to any pesticides if you don’t use organic.
- Include a variety of nutritious vegetables. Kale, spinach, dandelion greens, celery – all of these have various benefits and are rich in beta-carotene.
- Buy the right tools. Look for a juicer with a wide mouth — one that ejects the pulp and is easy to clean. Opinions differ on how much motor speed affects juice quality. Some experts believe that slow-extraction juicers are better because they don’t heat up the juice as much and don’t produce as much oxidation. But sometimes speed is of the essence for busy people.