Is Juicing Healthy?
Q: Everybody seems to be talking about juicing these days. Is it really good for me?
A: Juicing (extracting the juice from fresh fruit and vegetables) is exploding in popularity, and for good reason: It may make meeting the goal of eating a generous number of servings of these foods every day a little bit easier — an especially good thing for those of us who are short on time.
That said, a glass of juice is not equal to the whole foods that went into making it in a few important ways, and too much juice can pack a caloric punch. Juicing is also often promoted as a weight-loss or detox strategy, but we at Canyon Ranch believe there are better ways to accomplish these goals.
With a healthy perspective on it, and a few considerations, juicing can indeed be a nutritious element of your eating plan. A few things we encourage you to keep in mind:
Most juicing removes the bulk of fiber from vegetables and fruits. For this reason, try to eat as many of these foods whole as you juice. If you are in the market for a juicer, consider a “whole foods juicer” that utilizes the entire vegetable or fruit. If you use a juicer that leaves pulp behind, use it in soup or muffin batter so the fiber isn’t just thrown away.
If you use juice as a replacement for a meal, you may be hungry sooner than if you ate a more traditional meal. It is not recommended substituting a juice for a meal unless it includes a healthy source of protein, such as protein powder, yogurt, kefir, milk or soy milk. This balances the load of carbohydrates from the juice. You can also use nuts, seeds or nut butters to add additional protein and some healthy fat.
Fruit juice can have as many calories as soda. Keep your servings of fruit juice small, water them down, or mix them with vegetable juice, which is less caloric.
Leafy greens like spinach, chard and kale contain high amounts of oxalic acid, which can lead to kidney stones. Don’t overdo juices made from these vegetables, and drink plenty of water to avoid this painful health problem. Consider alternating these high-oxalate greens with others, such as romaine lettuce or cruciferous greens like watercress or arugula.
Because fresh produce can harbor bacteria, wash vegetables and fruits before juicing, just as you would if you were eating them whole.
Choose organic vegetables and fruits when possible, especially for those most likely to harbor pesticide residues. The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen Plus List provides guidance on this.