Healthy How-To: Juicing Fruits & Veggies
Juice bars have popped up everywhere, but it’s fairly simple -- and often less expensive -- to try juicing at home. Knowing which fruit and veggie combination's make life easier, but a little experimentation never hurts.
Lots of healthy pros tout juicing as a way to naturally detox, lose weight and keep a healthy colon -- unfortunately, there is no significant scientific evidence that juicing necessarily does these things. What we do know, however, is that fruits and veggies have tons of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Making your own juice using fresh ingredients is definitely better than the processed versions you might find at the store. Yours will be free of chemicals or additives (there’s no high-fructose corn syrup when you do it yourself!). Fresh juice blends also contain more fiber from the pulp -- the processed versions typically have the pulp extracted.
A homemade juice is also a quick way to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies. The National Cancer Institute encourages 9 servings of fresh fruits and veggies a day to help decrease the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Creating a cucumber, carrots and celery juice can knock off your veggie requirements in a few gulps.
In some cases, juicing is easier than eating foods whole. Guava has tons of seeds, pomegranates are tough and messy to prep and eat, and wheatgrass is hard on digestion in its whole form. Juicing can get you the B-vitamins from pomegranate, potassium and folate from guava and iron from wheatgrass without a problem.
You can juice almost any fruit or vegetables! Some simple fruits to start with are apples, melons, citrus and berries. Citrus fruit and strawberries have tons of vitamin C and melons are good for both vitamins A and C. Carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, beets and lettuce are common veggies to try, too. Carrots have tons of the antioxidant beta-carotene and tomatoes contain potassium and vitamin C.
Juicing is a healthy option sometimes, but you shouldn't juice everything or do it all the time. A couple months ago, we talked about how fruit juice can be a high-calorie treat. Minding your portions is a must. Each fruit has 60 calories -- add too many and your calories (not to mention sugar intake) will skyrocket. Stick to juicing only once a day. Eating whole, fresh fruits and veggies are also an important part of a healthy diet.
Also, know this: food prep techniques (including juicing) easily destroy vitamins when they're exposed to air. To get the most out of your juice, drink up right away.
There are endless combinations of flavors. Here are some ideas of what goes together:
- Cucumber: carrots and celery
- Spinach: tomatoes, celery and carrots
- Lettuce: parsnips, carrots, spinach, sprouts
- Papaya: pineapple, orange and cucumbers
- Various melons: strawberries
- Grapes: apples, melon, peach and cranberries
Before electricity, reamers were the most common way to juice. Nowadays there are endless juicers available -- from higher-end, more expensive power juicers to medium-sized citrus juicers to retro-looking juice pressers. Buy a juicer that fits your needs and budget -- forgo the $250 juicer if you don’t plan on using it often.
Make sure you take apart and clean your juicer after each use and follow the manufacturer’s directions. A dirty juicer can harbor bacteria -- something you don’t want to drink!
Recipes to try: