|When juicing, fruits and starchy vegetables such as carrots should be added only as accents for a low-sugar base, like kale and cucumber.|
Is eating vegetables better than drinking them? Consider that less than 27 percent of adults consume at least three servings of vegetables a day, and only 33 percent eat two or more servings of fruit, according to a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control. If you’re looking to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, juicing can help you do that, though experts say you have to beware of unwittingly loading up on sugar in the process.
Juicing extracts all of the nutrients and antioxidants of fruits and vegetables, leaving behind the fibrous pulp. While fiber is an integral part of a balanced diet, the lack of fiber in juices allow nutrients to be quickly absorbed by the body, says Nancy Vance, M.D., of Insight Health & Wellness in Naples. That’s great news for nutrient-dense, low-sugar produce like kale, but not so great when it comes to fruits like oranges and apples that naturally serve up more sugar.
All juice is not created equal.
Prepackaged fruit and vegetable blends may be easy to grab and go, but making your own juice is the healthier option, says Betsy Opyt, a registered dietician at Healthy Concepts, a nutrition and fitness consulting business in Naples. The pasteurization process, which removes potentially harmful bacteria and extends shelf life, also breaks down important vitamins and minerals, she says. And be sure to only make as much juice as you can consume at one time, because Opyt says within hours of making a juice some of the nutrients will degrade. Bacteria also love the sweet environment of fresh, unpasteurized juice.
For a healthy, and tasty, dose of fruits and veggies, try these recipes for fresh juices and smoothies.
Fruits versus vegetables.
A pineapple, watermelon and pear blend may be delicious, but again, it’s important to keep the sugar content in check. Fruits and starchy vegetables such as carrots should be added only as accents for a low-sugar base, like kale and cucumber. Vance recommends neutralizing the bitterness of dark, leafy greens with lemon or lime, or adding a touch of high-potassium coconut water for sweetness. “A lot of first-time juicers forget to account for the additional [sugar], which can lead to weight gain,” says Michael T. Murray, author of The Complete Guide to Juicing. He suggests aiming for a “rainbow” of produce when making your selections—and always remember juicing is meant to complement a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, not replace it.
Cucumber-Celery Mojito Cooler
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 1 cucumber
- 6 celery ribs
- Mint leaf for garnish
Juice mint leaves followed by the ?cucumber and celery. Serve over ice.