The elaborate juice alchemies available in craft juice shops and on grocery store shelves today make some big promises, from detoxification to jumpstarting the immune system to making your skin glow. But does drinking activated charcoal kale lemonade really live up to the hype?
Most health care practitioners will tell you it’s more important to chew your vegetables and fruits rather than drink them (most nutrients are found in the skin of the veggies). That’s not to say juicing doesn’t have its perks, but juicing is meant to supplement your fruit and vegetable intake, or enjoyed as a healthy snack or alternative to your morning coffee. Juicing isn’t a replacement for the 7 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables your body needs each day.
The sage advice to consume your foods in the form that is as close as possible to how they were plucked from the earth or a tree applies here, too. Always aim for minimal processing. The juicing process is, of course, much more innocuous than the vast majority of processing that goes into other packaged foods, but it’s a process nonetheless (which you’re well aware of if you’ve ever watched how five pounds of whole carrots juices into a thimble of carrot juice).
Upside of Juicing
Juicing in and of itself is not a bad practice. There are various benefits to it:
- Nutrient boost – Juicing is one way to squeeze more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and while chewing your produce is preferable to drinking it, consuming produce is preferable to not consuming it.
- Convenience – You can purchase pre-made juices if you’re in a hurry or on-the-go, rather than putting in the time and effort to make them yourself.
- Variety – One serving of juice can contain a variety of fruits and vegetables, some of which you may rarely or never consume. Everyone has that one fruit or vegetable they just don’t get around to befriending. Dandelion greens, anyone?
Downside of Juicing
Incorporating juicing into your daily routine can also have its drawbacks:
- Price – It can be tough to swallow paying $12 for a 16-ounce beverage. Two reasons it costs so much: labor and raw materials. If you’ve ever made juice at home, you know how labor-intensive juicing can be, between buying, washing, slicing, and juicing your vegetables, plus clean-up. It’s also expensive, even if you make it at home. A good quality juicer is an expensive investment, as is purchasing the massive quantities of produce you need to make a reasonable amount of juice.
- Fiber fail – When you extract the juice from fruits or vegetables, you don’t get the nutritious pulp and fiber, which also means a loss of some key vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
- Sugar overload – Store-bought juices often contain significant amounts of fruit-based or added sugar, and lack “the good stuff” like kale and spinach. Know what you’re putting into your body, and always read the label. If you want a green juice, make sure kale and spinach or one of their brethren are listed first on the ingredient list.
How to Juice Correctly
If you decide that juicing should play a role in your healthy, fruit-and-vegetable–rich diet, consider these five tips:
1. Select Quality Produce
If there were ever a time to buy organic, it’s now. This is because most pesticides are water soluble, which means the pesticides are extracted right along with the juice, giving you not just a shot of healthy vitamins and minerals, but also of pesticides.
2. Choose Enjoyable Flavor Combinations
Sure, spinach and strawberries might taste great tossed together in a salad, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be music to your mouth in liquid form. This sounds like a no-brainer, but make sure you want to drink the juice you make. Experiment and find what tastes best to you. Or, purchase pre-made juices whose flavor combinations have usually been vetted by the masses.
3. Consume Your Juice Immediately
It’s tempting to take a cue from Pinterest and fill a bunch of your crafty mason jars with juice on a Sunday for the whole week, but juice is best enjoyed fresh, as the nutrient value decreases the longer juice is stored. You can store juice for 24 hours in the refrigerator in a dark, airtight container.
4. Save the Pulp
If you’re juicing at home, there are endless uses for the leftover juicer pulp. It has no place in your trash, though a compost pile is a great place for it. A few other ways you can use the pulp include:
- Blending it into a smoothie to boost fiber
- Using it to make a vegetable broth
- Boiling it with water and cinnamon or ginger to make a fruit tea
5. Go Green
Eating your greens is one of the most important things you can do for your body, which is why you need to know how to make a simple green juice. If you have a juicer at home, toss these ingredients into the juicer and enjoy:
- 1 cup kale
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cucumber
- ½ cup parsley
- 2 celery stalks
- 1, 1-inch piece of peeled ginger
- 1 peeled lime or lemon
The pros seems to outweigh the cons in the juicing department. Whether you enjoy your juice for breakfast, a snack, or to replace certain nutrients you aren’t getting elsewhere in your diet, grab your favorite fruits and veggies and drink up!