Juicing for better health has been a popular concept for a while now. Some like to opt for a short-term juice fast or “cleanse.” Others prefer to simply include healthy juices in their diet as part of an overall lifestyle focused around wellness. There are many reasons why juicing is great for your health and should be considered as part of your healthy nutrition plan. Before we look at some of the benefits and drawbacks, let’s first cover what we’re not talking about.
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We always want to give you the best information when it comes to making healthy decisions. Therefore, it’s important to clarify what it means to juice for health:
- Fresh cold-pressed juices. Make these at home or buy from a healthy café. Many commercially bottled juices contain sugar and lack in nutrition. They may have also undergone extra processing (like pasteurization). Fresh is also best in terms of nutrient levels.
- Vegetable juices rather than fruit juices. It’s best to eat whole fruits rather than juicing them because the fiber from the whole fruit will slow down the release of fructose into the blood stream. Using mostly fruit leads to calorie and fructose overload.
- Not a quick fix! We do not mean a juice fast, diet or a detox in this article. While a juice fast could produce some beneficial effects for short term weight loss it’s important to know that vegetables contain carbohydrates but very little protein or fat. A “juice only” diet lacks in these two important macronutrients which are both crucial for optimal health.
The benefits of healthy juices
An easy way to add more fresh produce into your diet
Put simply, juicing can be seen as a way to top up your nutrient levels[i]. Nutrients are those magical ingredients like vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are plentiful in fruits and vegetables. A lot of people don’t get the nutrients they need[ii] and are missing out on the many benefits associated with a better nutrient profile. An optimal intake of vegetables can lead to improved energy levels and a better functioning immune system. Other benefits include improved exercise performance, better gut health[iii] and disease prevention.
For example, beet juice has gained a lot of traction in the sports performance world. While you can obtain the nutrients from beets by adding them raw into a salad, it’s easier to get a higher level of nutrients by juicing them. Studies have shown that beet juice has the ability to “de-stiffen” blood vessels at rest, and potentially reduce the workload on the heart[iv]. A review of 23 studies on beetroot juice and its effects on sports performance found that beetroot juice can improve cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes by increasing efficiency[v].
Juicing is also an easier way to consume a good supply of foods like ginger, celery and bitter vegetables. These all have a whole host of benefits, but you may not be inclined to eat much of them as part of your regular meals. Juicing is a great way to get in a little bit more of these healthful foods.
Faster absorption of vitamins, minerals and enzymes
When you drink a fresh cold-pressed, the vitamins, minerals and enzymes absorb more quickly than if you were to eat the vegetables whole. This could be seen as a benefit because the digestive system doesn’t need to work too hard. You also avoid overfilling yourself with fiber.
However, you need to be careful about whether fast absorption is actually a benefit. If you’re looking for a healthy “pick-me-up” in terms of increasing your energy levels, it is. But, sometimes your body benefits from receiving and processing nutrients at a slower pace.
Helpful if you dislike certain veggies raw
Juicing helps you get the variety of vegetables you need in your diet to cover a wide range of vitamins and minerals. If you know there are certain vegetables you’ll never eat, then try them in a mixed vegetable juice with a bit of added lemon, lime or apple to take the edge off. This trick works for pregnant women with certain food aversions. Think of your vegetable drinks as a way to “disguise” veggies you don’t normally want to eat!
If you have an adversity to certain vegetables, start by juicing the ones that you like. Similarly, vegetables like celery and cucumber have a much lighter flavor than most of the dark green vegetables. Therefore, are a good stepping stone towards the more bitter (and often more nutrient dense) dark green vegetables. Start by juicing these and get used to the flavor. Then gradually add some of the stronger tasting vegetables into the mix.
A pure vegetable juice can be a bit harsh for most taste buds. So if you find that you want a bit of sweetness in your vegetable juice, try adding green apple or fresh berries, which are both relatively low in sugars when compared with most fruits. Lemon or lime also works wonders to add a nice zing and take the bitter edge off any of your green vegetables.
Could assist with healthy weight loss
Juicing recipes for weight loss are hugely popular, both in terms of juice fasting diets for short term weight loss and as part of an overall weight loss plan. There are many potential benefits to help you work towards your weight loss goals.
Juicing vegetables is not necessarily “healthier” than eating vegetables in their whole form. However, it’s simply an easier way to get more vitamins, minerals and enzymes into your body. When you have sufficient nutrients in your body, it’s likely that you will get fewer cravings for “quick fix” foods. That means it’s probably going to be easier to for you to exercise control when it comes to highly processed, sugar-laden foods.
However, it pays to be cautious when it comes to juicing and weight loss. It’s possible that you could quickly consume a lot more calories than you realize. Juice is easier to consume quickly than fresh vegetables, and you don’t get all the fiber that helps to fill you up[vi].
You could potentially get around this by mixing the pulp back into the juice or adding it into certain cooked dishes. You’ll still get some of the soluble fiber when you juice, which is beneficial for things such as bowel regularity and the ability to lower cholesterol[vii].
However, a complete “juice diet” may not be a great idea as you won’t get the insoluble fiber that helps to fill you up. That’s why juicing should be considered as supplementary[viii] to a diet already plentiful in fruits and vegetables, rather than as a replacement for whole foods. Use it to replace unhealthy drinks like sodas and fruit juices. But be careful if you’re simply adding it without considering overall calories.
- Fresh healthy vegetable juices help you look and feel amazing. Just be careful not to get carried away with “hype” or go overboard with it. There are several potential benefits to juicing your vegetables, in addition to eating them as whole foods. However, juicing shouldn’t be seen as “healthier.” For example, some fresh juice might lack some of the important phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity contained in the whole vegetable or the peeled skin [ix] [x].
- Exercise caution if you have any health conditions or impaired gut function. For example, leafy green vegetables can be very high in oxalates, which some people can be sensitive to.
Overall, there’s a lot to love about juicing! Let’s not forget the many benefits for chemo patients unable to eat solid foods. Similarly, if you’ve just have your wisdom teeth pulled, or some other sort of surgery that prevents you from eating whole foods, then juicing is a great option to get those nutrients!
Do you enjoy healthy vegetable juices? What are some of your favorite healthy recipes? We’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment in the box below!