The Health Benefits of Juicing
We all know that eating more fruit and vegetables is good for us. The benefits of eating plant foods are numerous. Fruit and vegetables not only supply essential macro and micronutrients but also special plant chemicals called phytonutrients. The problem is that most of us don’t meet our daily minimal requirements for fruit and vegetable intake. Juicing is a great way to help us meet our requirements and boost our health in amazing ways.
The Health Benefits of Juicing
In plants, phytonutrients also serve to protect them against the elements, but have also been found to exhibit amazing health benefits in humans when consumed in the diet. Unlike vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals are not essential to life, but if eaten in adequate amounts, they contribute to optimum health. So, phytochemicals can be seen as the bridge between good health and super health.
Phytochemicals protect us because they act as antioxidants and help the body mop up cell-damaging free radicals. Smoking, bad diet, stress, pollution and medications all lead to free radical buildup. If left unchallenged, these villains can destroy or “oxidize” healthy cells, leading to disease. Phytochemicals help neutralize these free radicals and bring the body back into a state of wellness. Phytochemical nutrients can help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, and other diseases attributable to lifestyle and ageing. In fact, many experts believe that the medicine of tomorrow is leaning away from pharmaceuticals and more towards these neutraceuticals (medicines derived from food) to correct the body’s chemistry and restore well-being.
For optimum health, it is recommended that we consume at least 5 and up to 11 servings of fruit and vegetables per day (a serving being 1 medium fruit, one-cup of raw vegetables, half a cup of cooked vegetables or half a cup of fruit or vegetable juice).
The Benefits of Juicing
It is not recommended that we get all our phytonutrients from juice, because whole fruit and vegetables have the additional benefit of bring rich in fibre. When we juice foods, we take the fibre out of the food but the nutrients are retained in a more concentrated form. This means more nutrients but it also means less fibre and more sugar (in the form of fructose). However, juicing does have some benefits over eating whole fruits and vegetables:
Juicing is a good way to get lots of nutrition in a small amount of food. Juices are very concentrated in terms of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and at the same time they lack the bulk from the fibre. This means we can take in more nutrition without getting full.
Juicing is easy on digestion. The nutrients in juice are pre-digested because they have been broken down through the juicing process. Foods that have just been juiced also contain more enzymes, which help digest the nutrients quickly and efficiently.
Juicing allows for more variety in the diet. By combining different fruits and vegetables in your juicer, you can ensure that you get a wide range of nutrients every day.
Juicing is more hydrating. The high amounts of fluid in juices help hydrate the body to a greater extent than whole fruits and vegetables.
The Best Juices
The best foods to juice are vegetables. Fruit juice is high in fructose and if we consume too much of it, it could lead to problems with blood sugar control. However small amounts of lower Glycemic Index fruit juices do offer some benefits. The best fruits to juice include:
Apples contain a wide range of phytonutrients and are most balanced in terms of their antioxidant content (they contain almost all known fruit antioxidants in small amounts). Apples also have a low glycemic index.
Pineapples are anti-inflammatory and their juice can be used to help quell inflammation associate with arthritis, inflamed bowels or skin disorders.
Oranges and Grapefruits
Oranges have a low glycemic index and an excellent vitamin C content.
Base fruit juices are usually used to add some sweetness and flavour to vegetable juices.
The best vegetables to juice include:
Celery is a natural diuretic. It is also a good source of B vitamins and the minerals calcium and magnesium.
Cucumber is a natural diuretic and a good source of vitamins A and c and the mineral magnesium.
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a cancer preventing antioxidant that is also good for the skin and eyes.
Beetroot is good for liver and kidney cleansing. It is also an excellent source of folate, iron and copper.
Spinach is rich in a vast array of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. It is particularly rich in vitamin C folate and magnesium.
Good Juicing Combinations include:
Carrot and orange
Carrot and pineapple
Apple and celery
Apple and beetroot
Apple, celery and beetroot
Celery, cucumber and spinach
Herbs are a great way to add flavour to your juices. Try herbs like parsley, basil, and coriander
Juiced ginger is a delicious addition too. Raw coconut, berries or lemons are also often used to add some flavour.
Fruits like bananas, papayas and berries can be blended whole with fruit juice to add some fibre and bulk.
How to Juice
Ideally, you need to invest in as high a quality juicer as possible as not all juicers juice greens. For juicing of fruits and carrots, an entry levels juicer should do. The alternative is to get your juices daily from your green grocer, as many do have their own juicers onsite.
Freshly Squeezed versus Bottles and Cartons
The fresher and more recently squeezed the juice is, the better. Nutrient quality declines as soon as the juice is exposed to the air. The longer it is left standing, the less nutrition it will have. Also, preservatives and additives found in juices are not always favorable and can cause allergic reactions. There are many preservative and additive free juices on the market but their quality cannot be compared to that of freshly squeezed. Also, it is very rare to find fresh vegetable juices and most store bought juices are fruit-based and therefore high in fructose sugar.