Juicing. Some swear by it. Others swear off it. I’ve been on both ends of this spectrum and, like so many things, have found my happy place somewhere in the middle.
Juicing, by strict definition, isn’t fully naked. When we extract just the juice from a fruit or vegetable, we’re leaving behind the fiber – a vitally important nutrient. But this doesn’t mean that I write off juicing completely. There’s a time and a place where it’s very appropriate.
Now, just to be clear, when I talk about juicing I’m talking about fresh-pressed juices, and I’m talking about vegetable (especially green vegetable), not fruit juices. I’m not a believer in commercial juices at all – they’re oversweet, made from overripe produce, and pasteurized – leaving you with little more than sugar water.
So, to my question:
Should you juice? Short answer: it depends.
If . . .
- it’s warm out (spring, summer, or early fall),
- you have access to fresh-pressed vegetable juice made from non-starchy veggies (juice you made yourself or bought from a juice bar, and NOT carrot or beet juice – these are just as sweet as fruit juices),
- you need to pack antioxidants and other micronutrients into your diet,
- you can’t chew or need to steer clear of fiber,
- you’re in the mood for a little internal housekeeping, or
- you’re a little under the weather and taking in mostly fluids
. . . then juicing could be for you.
It’s an excellent way to load up on nutrients, to balance out the acidity that pervades so much of the North American diet, and to get more hydrated. You simply couldn’t eat the volume of veggies required to get the same nutritional content if you had to eat all that fiber.
If . . .
- you’re struggling with blood sugar issues,
- it’s cold out (winter)
- the only juice you have access to is commercially made (in other words: pasteurized, not fresh)
- you are looking to increase the fiber in your diet
. . . then juicing probably isn’t the best thing for you right now.
I’d recommend you stick to eating lots of whole vegetables either raw, lightly steamed or sautéed, or in soups or stews.
Very important juicing considerations:
Juice is a bonus, not a replacement. Unless your digestion is compromised or you’re on a cleanse, you don’t want to use juice as a replacement for your whole veggies. Juice is a supplemental way of getting more nutrients. You still need the fiber from the whole food.
Juices lose their nutritional value almost immediately. If you can’t drink it immediately, drink it within one to two hours of juicing. Store juices in a refrigerator with as little air in the container as possible (the air causes oxidation and speeds spoilage).
Avoid fruit and starchy vegetable juices (beet, carrot). They have way too much sugar. The ideal ratio of non-starchy vegetable to starchy-vegetable or fruit is 4:1. See the recipe below for a good example of this.
Use organic produce if possible. There’s lots of documentation of why organic is better, not least of which is to avoid the pesticides and other synthetic chemicals conventional produce is sprayed with. BUT, let’s be real – sometimes organic isn’t possible. If that’s the case, here’s a great article sharing how to wash your produce effectively.
To get you started, here’s a recipe for an easy green juice I’ve been enjoying this spring:
- 4-6 stalks kale
- 1 cucumber (if not organic, then peeled)
- 4 stalks celery
- ½ bunch parsley
- 1 green apple or pear
Could it be time to dust off the juicer…?
What are your favorite juicing strategies, juice bars, or juice recipes? Please share in the comments below.
photo by Stiftelsen Elektronikkbransjen
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