One of the fastest growing fads in the United States that involves dieting is juicing. Juicing has become extremely popular and perhaps so because of its initial success among so many. Juicing can be done in a variety of ways but normally juicing involves taking whole fruits and/or vegetables and putting them in a blending machine such as a Vitamix and making a “Smoothie”. Some proponents may actually use a Champion mixer to squeeze the fruit or vegetable and then use the pulp in other recipes or may put them back in the drink. The nice thing is that you can choose a variety of fruits and vegetables and design the drink to your individual taste. It is important for you to understand the pros and cons of juicing so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to try it.
Before beginning any diet change you should ask yourself specific questions. These might include:
1. Are there any dangers in making these dietary changes?
2. What might be the benefits?
3. What is the purpose for the dietary change? Weight loss? To gain more energy? To cleanse the system?
4. If it is a good change will I be able to stay with the change indefinitely?
According to a WebMD article entitled, “Juicing: How Healthy Is It?” Jennifer Barr, dietitian, states that juicing can be a great way to get those fruits and vegetables if you don’t like the traditional way of eating them. It is possible to get your daily recommendations by drinking one glass of juice. She follows up by saying that while drinking juice in this manner you shouldn’t try to get all your fruits and vegetables this way. Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, CSSD, states that you should still aim to eat two whole fruits and three to four vegetables a day keeping in mind different colors because different colors possess a variety of vitamins and minerals.
If you are using a form of juicing that strips the fruit or vegetable from its outside covering and fiber you will be losing a lot of minerals and vitamins unless you save them and use them in other recipes. If you are using a blender you will be using all parts of the food but if you are using a juicer you may lose some of your vitamins, minerals and fiber content.
Since a medium piece of fruit contains about 60 calories and a cup of vegetables contain about 25 calories you probably don’t have to worry about calorie intake. In this WebMD article it is stated that each 60-calorie serving of fruit equals about 4 ounces of juice. Since a typical juicing serving is abut 12-16 ounces that would amount to about 180-240 calories per smoothie. Pure fruit juices are going to be higher in calories than if you use vegetables or mix vegetables with your fruit smoothies.
If you wish to add protein to your drink you can use Almond milk, peanut butter or flaxseed. There are a variety of ways to make that juice drink taste better and experimenting is the best way to find something for your particular taste. Try adding apples or kiwi to a vegetable drink and see if you like that. If your juice gets too thick just add water or an ice cube or two. When it comes to juice drinks the sky is the limit. Just watch those calories and remember that juicing produces a dense drink as compared to eating the fruit or vegetable in its whole state.
While we know that eating a plant-based diet reduces the risks for heart disease, some cancers, hypertension and arthritis and many other diseases it is never a good idea to become fanatical by eating one food source only. Barr states that there is some evidence that juicing may benefit the immune system but the facts are that fruits and vegetables in their whole state will do the same thing. Juicing processes the fruit and vegetable and we know that eating it whole is good for us. Since we seldom get the amount of fiber we really need we want to remember not to throw out the fiber in the juicing process or we should use a juicing method that contains the fiber in the fruit and vegetable. You should consult your physician if you are going to begin juicing in large amounts since some vegetables and fruits may have drug interaction issues. Kale, spinach and grapefruit are some examples to watch out for. Kale and spinach may have an affect on your blood clotting mechanisms that could be dangerous – so beware!
You need to be careful if you are using juicing as a primary method to lose weight. It is my opinion that while you may lose weight this type of diet can be restrictive and may lead you to avoid other important foods and nutrients. A couple of days of juicing may not be detrimental to your health and may actually be good for you, but prolonged juicing may pose risks to your health. Think balance when dieting. Cut portion sizes and eat a balanced diet.
Juicing can be expensive but when you think that you may be cutting down on the cost of red meat and other dairy products it might be a good deal. Remember to drink the juice right away since you have processed the food and it will spoil through oxidation a lot more quickly.
My Dad used to say that moderation is the key to good health. So I pass that on to you. If you juice, eat all parts of the fruit or vegetable and not just the liquid. Use juice as a compliment to other whole fruits and vegetables or as a snack. Stay away from fad diets. They will only come back and haunt you. Eat smart!
Be Well, Stay Well.