“Juicing” can mean different things to different people, but the one thing most can agree on is that the term refers to juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables, usually from a home juicer. It does not refer to your typical, inexpensive store-bought juice—not even upscale and healthy-seeming ones like Naked Juice.
The process of juicing separates the liquid portion of the fruits and vegetables from the fiber, which is referred to as pulp. The resulting beverage is rich in the vitamins and minerals contained in the produce, and the easily digested carbohydrates provide a quick dose of energy. Some drink this juice in addition to regular food for added nutrition, while others choose to consume solely juice for several days as a juice fast or “cleanse”.
It’s fairly expensive to purchase all the produce needed for juicing, and people tend to throw away a large portion of the produce in the form of the fiber. However, fiber is one of the most important components of the fruits and vegetables, and most Americans don’t get nearly enough in their diets. Drinking only the juice provides the simple carbohydrates, but without the fiber to slow digestion and regulate the absorption of the nutrients, it is digested quickly, which may lead to spikes in blood sugar and quickly returning hunger pangs. To minimize these problems, consider the juice as part of a meal, not a meal in itself. And don’t throw away the pulp—there are many uses for it, such as adding it to muffins, omelets, stews, meatloaf or hamburgers.
Despite the claims of juice cleanse advocates, there are no scientifically accepted benefits of juice fasts. During a juice fast, you get no fiber, fat or protein in your diet, and this can lead to weakness, irritability and other deficiencies. Your body is an efficient system and doesn’t need a “break” to detoxify. In fact, it does that quite well on its own. Any benefits experienced on a juice cleanse have more to do with eliminating packaged and processed foods than with any inherent qualities of the juice.
For people who are not fans of vegetables, juicing can be a good way to begin incorporating more into their diets. However, because a juice does not contain the whole food, it should not account for all your servings of fruits and vegetables. Strive for 25-35 grams of fiber per day, and allow for servings of juice to account for no more than half of your daily fruit and veggie requirements.
Try This: Carrot-Apple-Spinach Juice
This simple juice is loaded with vitamins from the richly colored carrots and spinach, and has a touch of sweetness from the apple. It’s also a good source of the minerals calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. Drink as part of a meal, or as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Serves 1.
What You’ll Need
2 cups spinach
Wash all the produce thoroughly and trim the ends off the carrots. Feed into juicer according to manufacturer directions. Drink immediately for ultimate benefit, or cover tightly and refrigerate for no more than 24 hours. If desired, you can add a tablespoon of chia seeds for extra fiber and healthy omega-3 fats. Stir in and allow to “gel” for about ten minutes before drinking.
Don’t forget to save the pulp to add to your next soup or stew! It may be refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen for longer-term storage.
For part 1 of this segment, on smoothies, click here.