Juicing: Is It Worth The Squeeze?

What’s the squeeze with juicing? Depending on your concoction, a minimally processed juice made up of mostly vegetables and some fruit can be a great way to hydrate and add key micronutrients into your normal diet.  Note the term above: minimally processed…this may be some pretty vague terminology, but what I’m getting at is that if you’re drinking Minute-Made apple juice, don’t expect to see the same results as you would when drinking a freshly pressed juice chock full of fruit and veggies. And as healthy as fruit is, fruit juice contains a lot of sugar, while being stripped of all fiber, so it’s always good to include lots of vegetables in your juice mixture and use fruit to add that touch of sweetness we all love.

Need help choosing the perfect juice? I’ve included some recipes at the bottom of this post, but let’s breakdown the numerous benefits of some of these plants. Adding leafy greens, like kale or spinach, to your juice is an easy way to get in antioxidants (which are linked to cancer prevention) and the mineral iron (a super important nutrient for menstruating women especially).  Is your diet low in potassium? Well foods like bananas and avocados just don’t juice well; those are better saved for smoothies, which we’ll get to later. But you know what else is fairly high in potassium…CARROTS! You may be thinking…carrots in my juice? And I’m here to tell you YES! With a super bright hue that will pack a pretty punch, carrot juice is sweeter than you’d expect and is even better when combined with fresh fruit juice. The same is true of beets, which juice as a vibrant purple color. Cucumbers and celery are also hydrating additions to any juice and their taste can easily be masked, since they’re not bitter.

So, now you may be wondering what fruits can be included in order to offset the “vegetable-iness” of your juice…because let’s be real, who doesn’t like a sweet fruity juice? Watermelon is low in sugar, while still being sweet and incredibly hydrating. Oranges and pineapple are also great options and can provide almost a full day’s worth of vitamin C when included in a juice. Apples add a delicious dose of sweetness, but note they are also high in sugar. This being said, apples are included in a lot of juice recipes because they have a high juice yield per fruit…and a little secret of the packaged juice industry: the majority of packaged juices have apples because of this. Go ahead and look at the ingredient label of the next packaged juice you pick up; it will probably have apples! The last fruit I’m going to give you some unexpected details on: lemons. Lemon juice can contribute a good sweet and sour kick, while barely adding sugar. And while not a fruit, nor a vegetable, a small piece of juiced ginger can be delicious and aid in the recovery of a cold.

To quickly touch on the epic debate: juice vs smoothie. With almost no fiber, juices are quickly absorbed into the blood stream with minimal digestive effort. This means that the nutrients found in the juice can go directly into your blood stream, almost like a vitamin. However, this also means that all of the sugar also goes directly into your bloodstream without any fiber to slow it down. The lack of fiber also prevents a juice from being super filling, which may leave you craving something else. If you don’t have blood sugar issues and your diet already includes a healthy dose of fiber: drink that delicious juice! However, if you want something a bit more substantial and with some more variety potential, a smoothie may be what you’re looking for.  Tossing your favorite nutrient dense treats into the blender maintains all of the fiber of the original food, which can keep you fuller longer. Smoothies can be fortified with protein powders and can include some hard to juice favorites like bananas and berries. Whichever you decide, any way to add more fruits and vegetables into to your daily diet has a wide variety of proven health benefits.

Check out the recipes below and happy juicing!

Green Sweet Citrus2 cups spinach + 4 carrots + 1/3 of a pineapple + 2 oranges + 1 lime

Beet Carrot Apple Juice3 carrots + 2 green apples + 2 raw beets + 1/2 a cucumber + 2” piece of ginger

Cleansing Green Juice -3 cucumbers + 3 hearts of romaine lettuce + 2 gala apples + 1 celery stalk + 1/2 lemon

Pineapple Watermelon Mango Juice – 1/2 of a pineapple + 1/2 of a watermelon + 1 mango + 1 cup of filtered water

A Spinach and Vitamin C Minty Rush6 cups of spinach + 2 yellow apples + 1 lemon + 2 oranges + 1 chunk of ginger + 6 mint stems