By Cammie Jones
We are inundated with so many new diet and nutrition fads today that sometimes I just can’t wrap my head around all of them. Juicing seems to be another new way to get healthy and fit. What is juicing? What are the health benefits?
Juicing is simply a term used for the process of extracting the juice from a fruit or vegetable manually or electronically using a juicing machine. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no scientific evidence that juicing is healthier than the juices you get from eating whole fruits and vegetables. Also, some of the fiber is lost when you extract the juice from the fruit. So, why not just eat that whole apple?
“Some juicing proponents say that juicing is better for you than is eating whole fruits and vegetables because your body can absorb the nutrients better and it gives your digestive system a rest from working on fiber,” says Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D., mayoclinic.org. Also, if you don’t like to eat whole fruits and vegetables or don’t have the time to eat them, juicing may be a great way to get those nutrients in your body quickly and without much effort.
Denise Tucker, co-owner and certified raw vegan chef at Humanitree House in Augusta, says juicing provides a way to access digestive enzymes typically locked away in the fiber of the produce. “Some of the benefits are increased energy, weight loss, lower blood pressure and the consumption of considerably more fresh fruits and vegetables than one would typically eat,” she says.
There are some cons to juicing as well. If you are not careful with your portion size, you may consume more sugar than normal, which may lead to weight gain. Juicing can also lead to digestive issues and detox symptoms. If you make your own juice at home, remember to only make as much as you can drink at one time because fresh squeezed juice can develop harmful bacteria over time.
Speaking of making juices in your own kitchen, an at-home juicer is a great way to make your own juice and in the long term is more cost effective and convenient. According to Tucker, key fruits and vegetables to include in your juice are any green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, celery) as well as beets, cucumber and lemon. There are many juicing combinations that you can find online for whatever health benefit you’re trying to attain.
Another word I hear a lot when it comes to juicing is “cold-pressed.” Unlike your juicer or vitamin blender at home, a cold-pressed juicer uses a two-step process. “It extracts juice very slowly by pressing the produce, thereby resulting in a more nutrient-dense juice with a longer shelf life,” explains Tucker. Because these cold-pressed juicers don’t produce as much heat, they keep more of the fresh ingredients’ nutrients intact, which is beneficial to our health.
If you are sold on the health benefits of juicing or this sounds like a great plan to get your daily nutrients (or to get your children’s daily nutrients in them!), what is the best juicer for you? The Huffington Post (see right chart) compared cold-pressed versus centrifugal juice extractors (a.k.a the most common type of juicer).
Besides purchasing a juicing machine or going to a juice bar such as Humanitree House downtown, you can also buy ready made juices in the produce section of your local grocery store. If you go this route, the Mayo Clinic website suggests you buy a pasteurized product. Also, look at the sugar content in each serving size to make sure you are not consuming more sugar than you think, as this can lead to weight gain.
Studies show that Americans today, on a whole, are not getting enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Juicing is a nutritious and easy solution to getting the daily recommended amount, and it tastes good, too. Happy juicing!
Cammie Jones is an Augusta freelance writer and mother of three.
This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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