Juicing 101: Everything you need to know for easy juicing
Juicing 101 – is juicing healthy? What to know about juicing? This will cover everything you need to know for easy juicing.
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Table of Contents
Juicing is a process that extracts juice from fruit and vegetables that contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. It removes most of the solid matter (seeds and pulp), which is beneficial for your health. (You keep all the matter for smoothies!)
- The fastest and easiest way to get in nutrients from the vegetables: You might skip popular juicing vegetables like kale, celery, spinach at dinner. Get fiber, protein, and healthy fat if you have juice with a meal.
- Easy Digestion: The liquid content of the juice is easy on your digestive system because the fiber has been removed.
- Fast Absorption: When you extract the juice, you leave all of the indigestible fibrous pulp behind. The vitamin and mineral-packed juice is easily absorbed by your body.
- Pack in nutrients: The juicing process can pack the vitamins and nutrients from a lot more fruits and vegetables into the same sized glass. You can have 3 carrots easily as a juice, but it’s hard to eat them with salad. Leaving the skins will save you time while packing in perks since a lot of the nutrients of fresh produce exist in the skin. So get organic produce. But if it isn’t organic, you should always peel.
- Good alternative to calorie-heavy drinks: Freshly squeezed juice is not free of sugar and calories, but it has more nutrient density without added sugar and preservatives compared to soda and other sweetened drinks like sports drinks and cocktails, pick the latter. I’m talking about fresh juice, not carton juices because they are added sugar just as much sugar as soda. So, limit the portion size of juice to smaller than a blended beverage by 1-2 servings of fruits per drink (½ cup to 1 cup).
- A great option for those who need a low-fiber diet: Juicing removes the fibers and pulp, so it may be a better option for those who limit fiber intake.
- Helping hydration: Many of us tend to forget to drink enough water in the day. Juice at least increases your fluid intake as opposed to the dehydrating effects of coffee, soda, or alcohol.
- A good for those who are on special diets: Juicing is a good option for a special diet like a fast or healing process for a short period of time.
While it’s great to consume fresh produce, there is no scientific proof of the benefits of juice cleansing/detox.
Your liver and kidneys do the cleansing without juicing. In fact, juicing may be some potential risks. Juice fast diets to get rid of toxins in the body can cause diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, and irritability (mood swings), though “detox” diets are generally low in calories and can result in initial weight loss.
Prolonged juicing can even lead to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition. Some foods used for juicing may be high in oxalates, which are environmental toxins that can build up in the body (especially the intestines).
Juicing vs whole foods
Eating whole fruits and vegetables is better for your health than juicing. Plant foods contain different varieties of phytonutrients and antioxidants that protect our bodies against inflammation and disease.
Juicing could miss out on beneficial fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.
Insoluble fiber can promote bowel regularity, lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugars, and promote satiety (a sense of fullness) to maintain a healthy weight. Our body doesn’t absorb fiber, thus making it a calorie-free nutrient.
Antioxidants and phytochemicals (substances that can improve your immune system and maintain cell structure) – the normal function of these substances could be altered due to the extraction process involved in juicing. Although juices may have a high amount of antioxidants, the way they react in our body, without the fibers and nutrients, may be ineffective.
For these reasons, it is recommended to include a variety of whole plant foods in meals and snacks to expose your body to a wide variety of health-promoting nutrients.
- Juicing lacks fiber
The juicing process removes all the fibers that are necessary for digestive health and important for appetite regulation. Fiber helps to pace the absorption of fruit sugar. Without fiber, these sugars are absorbed into the blood more rapidly causing a spike in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling fatigued and hungry. Use the pulps for cooking so that you can get the fiber with the juice. Try adding fruit pulp to muffin batter, or use vegetable pulp when making broth, pasta sauce or casseroles.
- Juicing shouldn’t be a meal replacement
Juice alone isn’t nutritionally balanced because it doesn’t provide enough protein nor fat. Enough protein intake throughout the day is necessary for muscle maintenance and long-term health. Juice a complement to your diet boosting extra nutrients and hydration, not a meal replacement.
- High sugar and calories
Most juice diets involve consuming 600 – 1,000 calories per day from juices only. juice digests quickly and can cause the type of extreme hunger that leads to overeating and binging. It is also very difficult to sustain for more than a few days. While juicing diets may help you lose weight in the short term, such a severe calorie restriction can slow your metabolism in the long term. Weight loss by juicing isn’t such a good idea.
- Risk of bacterial growth
Unpasteurized juices can have harmful bacteria that cause serious infections.
- Excess nutrients will be flushed out
Your body absorbs the necessary quantities and then you urinate the excess. Juicing is a really expensive way to take in a lot of nutrients that your body is just going to flush out.
Can you drink green juice daily?
Yes. Juice shouldn’t be a meal replacement, but it’s good to make juice daily as a supplement so long as you control the amount of sugar.
However, green vegetables (spinach, chard) contain oxalates. So they should be used less often.
When is the best time to drink juice? Drink it in the morning for supplying hydration and nutrients!
Though there is no rule about what you put in your juice, the juice must have the basic components. You must have some fresh produce that provides you with liquid first. Then combine with ones with little liquid yet nutrients, sweetness (if needed), and some extra like chia seeds and spices (if wanted).
Basic: Juice = base + sweetness + extra
- Base: fruits and vegetables that produce more liquid and add volume. Carrots, green apples, orange, pineapple, cucumbers, and celery make great bases. Leafy greens won’t create much juice. Hence, they can be an addition for a nutrient boost, but can’t be the base. Pick the crispy and juicy kinds of apple – some kinds don’t contain much water nor sweetness.
- Sweetness: Greens only have little sweetness. Add apple, carrot (sweet, cheap and so good!), or pineapple. Citrus juice can help to cut bitterness from vegetables. Remember to remove the peels of citrus fruits.
- Extra: The possibilities of addition are endless. Extra vegetables (leafy vegetables, ginger, etc.), fruits (lemon, etc.), herbs (mints, etc.), seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds, etc.), or spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, chili pepper, turmeric, etc.).
Certain vitamins are more easily absorbed as juice, like vitamin C and Bs, while others, like vitamin A, E, K are best taken through the full digestion process
Good produce for juicing
- Ginger root
- Leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, swiss chard, kale, mustard greens)
- Red bell peppers
Not so good produce for juicing
Avoid overly mushy or tender fruits, which can make your juice too thick and mushy.
- bananas (if craving potassium, use half)
- Winter Squash
Vegetables that shouldn’t be juiced if:
- having thyroid problems
Avoid large amounts of raw cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, and kale) since it can disrupt the thyroid gland. Those with thyroid issues should consult with their doctor.
- experiencing stomach bloating
If you find yourself bloating after drinking juices, reduce the number of cruciferous vegetables (kale or bok choy). Though these are healthy, they may cause bloating for some people when raw. If this is you, lightly steaming these vegetables may be a better way to receive their nutritional value.
- having or have had kidney stones
Oxalates, which are found in bananas, cherries, mangoes, raw spinach, chard, and more, can worsen or create kidney stones when eaten in large amounts. They can also block iron and calcium absorption when eaten in large amounts. For most people, oxalates will never be an issue.
- managing blood sugar
Increase your vegetables to fruit ratio and avoid fruits such as pineapple, mango, pears, and other fruits that are particularly high in sugar. Consult with your doctor first.
How much fresh produce do you need?
Some products like apples create a lot of juice with small amounts, some like spinach needs tons to create even small bits of liquid. Some produce add sweetness. Get to know fresh produce. Combine with fruits and vegetables that produce juice a lot with ones without liquid.
We only need to consume about 2-3 servings of fruit a day (one serving is equal to one small apple or one large orange or a quarter cup of dried fruit).
How can you decide the combinations of vegetables and fruits? Though there are some good basic combinations, the pairing is endless. I highly recommend you to try out various fresh produce and flavor combinations.
Think about what health benefits you’re aiming for first. At the beginning, you don’t know what’s juicing like – which vegetables/fruits give you more juice, how you can combine even with spices, ginger, lemon, etc. Till you get used to it, try the recipes for the health benefits and figure out which flavors you like.
Nutrients & health benefits
You can make juice aiming for skin, hair, immune system, anti-aging, stress relief, etc. Just go online and look up the recipes!
However, certain vitamins are more easily absorbed as juice, like vitamin C and Bs. While others, like vitamin A, E, K are best taken through the full digestion process. Certain vitamins and nutrients can be absorbed and utilized by the body better when paired with one another.
Foods that are rich in iron are absorbed well when paired with Vitamin C foods. Try pairing iron-rich beets with oranges.
The vitamins in greens are absorbed better by pairing with healthy fats. Add chia or flaxseed to your juice. Add lemon and ginger to boost the immune system. You can even add seasonings like cinnamon, turmeric, chili pepper, etc.
Be open-minded when it comes to flavors. Try various combinations of recipes you could get online and offline. You might like the taste of fresh produce you might not be so familiar with by juicing (Like beets, you may find it tastier in juice than eating it). Then you can tweak the recipes on your own.
Popular combinations include mixing leafy vegetables like spinach or kale with celery or cucumber and adding beet, carrot, or apple for sweetness. Here is the basic recipes.
Know your fruits and vegetables for juicing
Get to know your fresh produce – know which one is sweet and contains more water content like cucumber. You can get little juice from leafy vegetables like kale. You need very little beets because it’s very sweet.
Limit the fruits
When you juice fruit, you get all of the nutrients and all of the natural sugar, but none of the fiber. Hence, the amount of sugar and calories per serving becomes more concentrated (more in a smaller amount).
To prevent from intaking excess sugars, limit the fruit in both juices and smoothies to 1-2 servings per drink (½ cup to 1 cup fruit).
For every fruit you’re juicing, try to add a vegetable if you are new to juicing your vegetables.
Though green juices are healthy and low in sugar, they could taste bitter alone. Juicing primarily vegetables like dark leafy greens, celery, and cucumber, then adding a small amount of fruit, like apple or kiwi, or root vegetables (carrots or beets).
A basic rule of thumb: 1 fruit for every 2 veggies for sweetness. A hint of lemon, lime, or ginger is a nice touch.
Which fresh produce should be juiced together?
- Mixing apples with other vegetables increases nutrients and minerals.
- Green leafy veggies combine well with pretty much everything.
Which fresh produce shouldn’t be juiced together?
- Some starchy vegetables: carrots, beetroots, broccoli, and zucchini don’t combine well with fruit due to their high starch content. Combining starchy foods with fruit may cause fermentation and gas.
- Spinach contains oxalates and raw kale contains goitrogens. Oxalates are also found in bananas, mangoes, cauliflower, and more. Goitrogens are found in raw cruciferous vegetables and can affect thyroid function in large amounts. Just don’t go excess or daily – normal portions are totally fine. Vegans need to be more aware of oxalates and goitrogens since they are more likely to consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables.
With or without peel
Generally speaking, you peel more on smoothies than juicing. A lot of the nutrients of fresh produce exist in the peel – you want the nutrients in it, without discarding the skin. That’s why it’s important to get organic fresh produce so you can get the benefits of peel while avoiding pesticides.
Produce with the peel intact: Apples, pears, bananas, beets, cucumber, peppers, eggplant, grapes, kiwis, watermelon, ginger, carrots, peaches, nectarines, and plums.
Produce without the peel: Lemons and limes (some are good, but too much can upset the stomach); cantaloupe; oranges and grapefruit (very bitter); mangos (the skin can be eaten but causes adverse reactions in some people); and pumpkin (skin is too hard to juice).
Buy organic products whenever possible
Produce you should always try to buy organic: Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Pears, Imported Grapes, Spinach, Lettuce, and Potatoes.
Produce that is safer to buy non-organic: usually have a rind or peel like oranges, melons, or onions.
Other components you could toss or use for compost
- Citrus rinds
- Pits, including those from avocados, peaches, etc.
- Apple seeds
- Papaya peels
- Carrot greens
1. Squeezing by hand
It’s ok to use the manual squeezer, but it takes a lot of strength and time to squeeze the amount of a cup of juice. It’s possible, but I don’t recommend it.
2. Automated citrus juicers
I think a citrus juicer is one of the greatest kitchen tools – super cheap (under $15), so convenient and easy.
All you need to do is to cut the citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruits) in half and push it toward the squeezer. No need for any strength to squeeze the juice out. You can even control the amount of pulp you want.
Though you can use the tricks to get the most juice out of lime if you use lots of citrus fruits like lime, it’s good to have this for super easy citrus juice!
Juicers could be expensive, ranging from $50 to $400+. Some more expensive juicers will break down a lot of the fruit by grinding the core, rind, and seeds. But even under $150 juicers like “Breville” do enough job – perhaps an even better job for easier maintenance than high-end ones.
Instead of a juicer, you can use a blender and keep the fiber, too. Remove seeds and rinds, and some skins. Add water if it becomes too thick. Blender also lets you make smoothies.
Here is the comparison of blender vs juicer.
How long does fresh juice last?
Ideally, drink it right away once you make it. After 15 minutes, light and air will destroy the nutrients.
If you can’t drink it straight away, transfer to an airtight container such as a mason jar or stainless steel bottle in a cool and dark place and consume it within 24-72 hour. The longer it is stored, the more nutrients have been lost.
Adding lemons to your juice can also help keep your liquid fresh for a longer period of time.
Conclusion: Juicing is a good supplement if you lack in fresh produce in your diet. Don't be fooled by the claims of diet, detox or cleanse effects. Use the pulp you get with juicer in your cooking so you won't miss out fibers. Limit the amount of juice to avoid weight gain.
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