Liquid Living-Who’s Got the Juice?
We know how healthy eating raw, fresh, organic greens can be. In fact, eating them is essential for anyone who wants to become and stay healthy no matter your situation. In the bustle of our busy lives, consuming our daily greens in some kind of liquid form just easier. The more fruits and vegetables we consume, the greater the benefits, however it can be difficult for some of us to consume the recommended five or more servings in one day. Juicing or blending fruits and vegetables can be one simple way to get your daily servings in. Juicing or blending may also be a fun way to add them to your diet or to try fruits and vegetables you normally wouldn’t eat.
Juicing is a process where the liquid part of the fruit or vegetable is separated from the pulp, or fiber. You get a thin and concentrated liquid product that contains vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, which are plant-derived compounds associated with positive health effects. You specifically need a juicer to do this. Juicing extracts the liquid nutrients from fresh fruits or vegetables. The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals found in the whole fruit. However, whole fruits and vegetables also have healthy fiber, which is lost during most juicing. There’s no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself. Juicing is done using a machine, either electrical or mechanical, to grind, pulverize, and squeeze liquid out of your fruits and veggies. The fibrous tissues of the plants are not consumed, but instead discarded. Conscious home cooks sneak juice pulp into sweet foods, like cookies, or fold it into soups and sauces for added nutrients, fiber, and flavor. Therefore, in addition to the added nutrition, juicing can help the environment by conscious individuals and responsible businesses segregating their food scraps and other organic waste before it is collected so that it can be converted to fertilizer. Juice pulp is highly degradable, unlike leaves and lawn clippings. The microbe population grows rapidly, and they consume a great deal of oxygen. Good compost improves soil, of course, however according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, using pulp to feed animals offers a superior way to repurpose fruit and vegetable waste.
You might also consider blending instead of juicing. Blending the edible parts of fruits produces a drink that contains more healthy nutrients and fiber, and fiber can help you feel full. Blending involves using a blender or other high-powered device to grind down green leafy veggies like kale and spinach, fruits, root herbs like ginger, and other vegetables. Blending uses the whole plant, stems and all. The end result is a thick drink that is satisfying, nutrient-dense, and delicious. The volume of the drink, which is often called a smoothie, will be much greater than that of a juice made from the same amount of fruits or vegetables. You can use anything from a standard blender to higher-end product. Blended drinks are sometimes called a “smoothie.” However, to be clear, there is a difference between the kind of healthy blended drink we’re talking about and the “smoothies” that you may find at a “smoothie” shop. With smoothies you retain the fiber, which can help you feel fuller and improve your digestive health. In addition, you can add other types of foods to smoothies like nuts, seeds, and yogurts to increase your intake of healthy protein and fats. This drink will be thicker and may take some time to get used to. When blending, make sure you use mostly green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach. You can combine leafy vegetables with fruits, but make sure that they are low-glycemic, such as apples or blueberries. Sticking with leafy greens (as opposed to vegetables like broccoli or cabbage) in combination with these fruits will eliminate the digestive upset that can sometimes happen when you mix high-starch vegetables with fruit. According to experts leafy greens are not really “vegetables” in the way that squash, beets, carrots, broccoli, and the like are. Greens differ in that they simply do not have the starch content that these other veggies have. In fact high fiber content in green leaves actually help to slow down the absorption of fructose, making them an excellent pair for fruit. When blending, the whole fruit or vegetable is used, what you put in the blender is what you consume.
There are pros and cons to both juicing and blending. Juicing provides a very nutrient-dense beverage in a smaller amount of liquid. For those who need a low-fiber diet, juicing may be a better option. It’s important to note that the portion size of juice should be smaller than a blended beverage. Otherwise, you can get many calories from sugar in that cup of juice. Juicing can also be more expensive, as you have to use a greater volume of produce (for example, about 2 oranges, 1 stem of kale, ½ red pepper, 1 cup berries, and 1 stalk broccoli will make about one cup of juice but about 3 cups of smoothie).
No doubt the juicing vs. blending debate will continue. However, whatever approach you choose, one things is clear, making juicing or blended green smoothies as a regular part of your diet will not only give you plenty of plant-based nutrients, it will also give you the healthy, sustained energy you need for a productive day.