Juicing has become extremely popular. Juice bars that serve up fresh and colorful liquid concoctions are popping up everywhere, and home juicing of fruits and vegetables is on the rise.
Green juice, often made with kale, spinach, fruits and other vegetables, is becoming a household name. Fresh-squeezed or pressed juice has become a diet drink obsession alongside smoothies and herbal teas. If you plan to join the masses, or maybe you already have, there are some things you should know about juicing to make sure it’s right for you.
Juicing is now a multibillion-dollar business. Juice diets or juice fasts have been used for years as an extreme approach to weight loss, but the newer juicing movement has roots in a growing emphasis on raw and plant-based eating.
There are many philosophies when it comes to juicing meal plans. Juices are often consumed in place of meals, but also can be enjoyed as a snack or refreshment.
While many juicing companies and juice enthusiasts tout fresh juice as an anti-cancer antidote that boosts the immune system and is beneficial for digestion, there is limited evidence that there are health benefits beyond those provided by simply consuming the fruits and vegetables whole.
Because the juicing machine extracts the juice from the produce, the nutrient- and fiber-rich pulp and skin is left behind. Because of this, juices should not be relied upon as a sole dietary source of fruits or vegetables.
To avoid wasting the fruit and veggie pulp, repurpose it by adding it to baked goods like muffins or breads for an extra fiber boost.
Since juices do contain the full calorie and sugar content of the fruit, it is important to consider how fresh juices may be contributing to overall daily calories consumed. One medium piece of fruit contains about 60 calories. This amount of fruit yields about 4 ounces of juice, so a 16-ounce serving of fruit juice contains about 240 calories. For some drinking juice multiple times daily, these calories can really add up.
Since a serving of non-starchy vegetables like cucumber, kale, spinach and parsley contains about 25 calories or less, consuming juices that contain veggies with fruits can help reduce the overall caloric content.
There are some safety concerns when it comes to following a juice-only diet. First, because fruits and veggies don’t have significant amounts of protein, juice diets can result in muscle loss, which often leads to a slowed metabolism and weight gain once a regular eating pattern is resumed.
Also, because the fiber is removed during juicing, the final product is low in fiber and may not be adequately filling. High-protein foods like Greek yogurt, almond milk, nut butters, flaxseeds and chia seeds can be added to juices to make them more nutritionally balanced.
Food safety precautions should be followed when juicing at home. Be sure to wash your hands before getting started. All produce should be cleaned thoroughly. When you are finished juicing be sure to clean and dry the juicer and all parts thoroughly to prevent bacterial growth. Since fresh juices are not pasteurized, they should be consumed as soon as possible to prevent food-borne illness. Ideally, drink fresh juice the same day it is made or at least within two to three days.
Fresh fruit and vegetable juices can fit into a balanced meal plan and help improve the overall quality of one’s diet. However, consumption of a juice-only diet is nutritionally inadequate, lacking in protein, fiber and many other nutrients. If you are interested in drinking more fresh juices, consider vegetable-based juices, which are lower in calories and still full of flavor.
LeeAnn Weintraub, a registered dietitian, provides nutrition counseling and consulting to individuals, families and businesses. This article by Ms. Weintraub was originally published at the www.dailynews.com. She can be reached at RD@halfacup.com.