I got a juicer for Christmas and can’t get enough. I love juicing, but there is a right and wrong way to juice!
Juicing has gained notoriety for its ability to energize, alkalize, detox, and rejuvenate both inside and out. Green vegetable juices fill you with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. Proponents claim juicing has the ability to improve skin health, reverse degenerative disease and even slow down or reverse gray hair! I am a big fan of green juicing, but there is a right and wrong way to juice. Let’s take a look.
The Right (and wrong) Way to Juice
Go easy on fruit juices. Be especially cautious with tropical fruits like mango and pineapple, which are very high in sugar. Fruits offer plenty of antioxidants and beneficial enzymes, but they are best eaten whole with their fiber. I don’t recommend regular juicing with fruit, especially if you are on a weight loss plan. Pineapple-mango juice sounds delicious but contains almost 8 teaspoons of natural sugar.
That will send your blood sugar and insulin levels soaring, increasing fat storage. The exception is using the occasional green apple or kiwi to sweeten some of the more bitter green drinks. Green apples are relatively low in sugar.
Focus on organic, raw green veggies for maximum nutrition in freshly pressed juice. This is a great way to sneak more veggies in concentrated form into your diet. Juices should not be a substitution for eating your vegetables, however.
Man cannot rely on juicing alone. Vegetable juice should be used as an accompaniment to a meal or in between meals (great afternoon energy boost!), but you still need the fiber from whole vegetables, and juice doesn’t provide this. With that said, juicing makes it easier to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables you’re juicing and makes it easy to get a wider variety of veggies you may not otherwise eat.
Juice raw cabbage, collards, bok choy, kale and broccoli SPARINGLY. All cruciferous veggies are goitrogenic, meaning they contain substances that suppress thyroid function when consumed raw. They may also cause gas, bloating and stomach upset in some folks. Don’t get me wrong; the cruciferous have wonderful health benefits when cooked or lightly steamed. Cooking deactivates the goitrogens.
Raw spinach, beet greens and chard contain oxalic acid, which can irritate the the mouth and intestinal tract and block iron and calcium absorption in some folks. Oxalic acid has also beed linked to the formation of kidney stones.
The best veggies to juice include the following:
- Cucumbers, which are very cleansing and good for skin health.
- Celery, anti-inflammatory and alkalizing; also said to lower blood pressure.
- Beets, a super liver cleanser and great vegetarian source of iron.
- Carrots, rich in beta-carotene, beneficial for eyesight, and also a great liver/gall bladder cleanser. Use caution with carrot juice, as it’s also high in sugar.
- Spinach, high in iron, very alkalizing, and great for skin health.
- Wheatgrass, overall great detoxifier and also alkalizing.
- Fennel, excellent for digestion, reduces bloating. Great licorice-like flavor.
- I also throw in romaine lettuce or red bell peppers (very high in vitamin C) if I have some on hand.
- Herbs are great, too; use parsley, cilantro (helps to chelate heavy metals), and ginger (good for digestion and cleansing).
- Throw in some raw garlic if you’re brave or want to ward off vampires. It’s great for immune health.
Make your own, or buy unpasteurized juice if you can. The heat from the pasteurization process kills the beneficial enzymes raw juice provides.
Below are a few of my favorite recipes. Get creative! I like to add a squeeze of lime to the finished product for an extra kick. Or, try adding a pinch of sea salt for extra trace minerals. Buy organic where possible and scrub everything before juicing.
If you don’t have a juicer, try Evolution brand green juices, or Whole Foods has their own line of fresh pressed juices too.
The Afternoon Energizer: Energy Boosting, Cleansing & Good for Skin
3-4 stalks celery
1 cucumber, peeled
1/2 beet (optional)
1/2 lemon or lime
thumb size of ginger
1/2 green apple
The Basic Green
4 stalks celery
1 half bunch parsley or cilantro
1 large handful spinach or kale
1 green apple
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
Optional: 1 bunch parsley and/or 1 tbsp spriulina/chlorella blend
The Kitchen Sink
2 stalks celery
1 red pepper
1/2 bunch parsley or cilantro
1/2 fennel bulb
squeeze lime (into finished juice)
Optional: garlic cloves to taste
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.