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Should I Be Juicing?

Should I Be Juicing?

You probably have noticed that juicing is gaining in popularity. Maybe some of your friends have a juicer now or you’ve noticed new juice bars popping up in your neighborhood. As a dietician, I often get the question, “Should I be juicing?”

Juicing is a healthy choice because juices are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other good compounds. This is especially true of vegetable juices. Many fruit-filled juices on the market are packed with sugar, so be careful when choosing ingredients for your homemade or store-bought juices. If there’s too much sugar, weight gain is a possibility, and your drink won’t be as filling.

I also get the question of whether juicing or blending is the better choice. I think both are good options but for different reasons. Juicing removes the fibrous pulp, which makes a less-filling drink that you can drink anytime. On the other hand, smoothies leave in the pulp, so they can be consumed as a meal replacement, especially if they are high in protein due to ingredients such as Greek yogurt, ground flaxseed, nut butter or avocado. So the decision to juice or blend likely comes down to whether you plan to drink it as a meal replacement or a nutrient boosting addition to your diet.

Here are some tips for juicing and blending to maximize nutrient density and minimize sugars and calories:

  • Start with a base of nutrient-dense non-starchy vegetables, incorporating a variety of colors, from dark greens to purples and reds to oranges, as each color represents different nutrients.
  • Instead of limiting your blend to the same combinations over and over, rotate ingredients with what’s fresh and local. Not only will you add interest and variety to your juice or smoothie, you’ll also ensure that you’re getting a broad range of nutrients.
  • Keep in mind that everything is concentrated — particularly with juicing. This includes desirable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but also potentially harmful pesticides and fertilizers, so be sure that even organic produce is washed thoroughly.
  • Boost the flavor and health benefits of juices and smoothies with add-ins like herbs (think basil, mint or cilantro) and spices (cayenne, ginger or cinnamon).
  • Freshly made juices and smoothies are highly perishable and can lose nutrients quickly, so drink or freeze shortly after juicing or blending.

Here is a juice blend offered at The Green Fork. I drink this every day in the late afternoon for a pick-me-up!

  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 stalks kale
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 1 beet
  • ½ lime
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina
  • 1 toe fresh ginger root
  • Dash of Celtic salt

Wash all produce thoroughly, and then process through your home juicer.

For more details on this topic, read Molly’s “Juicing has a multitude of health benefits: Is it right for you?” article on NOLA.com.

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