Drinking Fresh: The Real Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Juicing

Vegetables and fruit are undoubtedly an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, as they are naturally potent sources of disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. While a daily intake of at least five or more servings is ideal for optimal functioning of the body, most people just don’t take in enough.

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Indeed, I used to be one of these people.

Though I could easily stomach fruit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of vegetables.

But, this all changed back in 2002—The year I received my very own “Juiceman” as a gift and began juicing.

Remarkably, after only a few weeks of drinking a variety of fresh vegetable juice blends my taste buds started to change. I developed intense cravings for more and more vegetables, which ultimately led to my eating them in whole form just as much as I’d been drinking them.

To this day, I swear by juicing and highly recommend it, especially if you’re among the many who are having trouble getting enough vegetables and fruit in your daily diet.

In and of itself, juicing comes with a ton of nutritional and health benefits, mainly since the juices of vegetables and fruit are as beneficial as their whole counterparts.

For instance, you can obtain over 300 percent of a day’s worth of vitamin A (produced from beta carotene) by drinking just 3 ounces of fresh carrot juice. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant known to support heart health, fight cancer, and boost immunity.

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Kale, tomato, beet and berry juices are equally high in health-promoting antioxidants including polyphenols, lycopene, flavonoids, and anthocyanins.

In addition, vegetable and fruit juices generally supply an abundance of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant that plays a critical role in proper functioning of the body’s immune system. An adequate intake of vitamin C is crucial for good health, as deficiency can increase your body’s vulnerability to all types of infections and eventually lead to anemia, poor wound healing, and even gum disease.

Unbeknownst to many, fresh juice is also high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows the digestion and absorption of sugar (glucose) from the small intestine, which inhibits sudden spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels. It’s also been proven effective in stabilizing blood sugar levels and lowering blood cholesterol.

Related Article: How Different Types of Fiber Affect Your Health

And, if you’re watching your weight, a mid-morning or mid-afternoon fresh juice pick-me-up is a healthy way to curb your appetite and keep your energy level high.

Now, let me clarify that the benefits I’ve highlighted do not extend to prepackaged, commercially manufactured vegetable and fruit juices that have been pasteurized for maximum shelf longevity.

Due to the pasteurization process, these juices generally contain higher amounts of sugar and substantially fewer vitamins and antioxidants.

When using the term “fresh juice”, I’m only referring to those that have been freshly extracted from or pressed out of raw vegetables and fruits in real time. This is done by way of either a centrifugal juicer or a masticating (cold-press) juicer.

Centrifugal juicers are simple juicers that work by pulverizing hard and soft vegetables and fruits (carrot and mango) using high-speed spinning, heat-generating blades. Mainstream juicers like the Juiceman I once used are centrifugal in nature.

Cold press juicers, on the other hand, run at much slower speeds than centrifugal juicers and are best for extracting juice from leafy vegetables like kale and wheatgrass or very small fruits like berries. These juicers essentially ‘squeeze’ or ‘press’ the juice from these foods for a high-quality high juice yield.

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I personally own both types of juicers but I generally recommend centrifugal juicers for everyday juicing.

To reap the full nutritional and health benefits of fresh juice, you should make it a regular practice to include a wide variety of vegetables and fruit across the color spectrum.

Some good blends include broccoli, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, sweet peppers, carrot, and tomato. Fruit is a great for boosting flavor and adding sweetness, especially ones like apple, pear, plum, mango, orange, berries, and grapes.

In conjunction with a well-balanced diet, a daily intake of at least 8-16 ounces of fresh juice is adequate for most people.

Infographic: The Ultimate Guide to Fresh Juicing

In general, it’s best to juice and drink immediately, but if you’re constantly on the go, you can make enough juice to fill a vacuum-sealed thermos and take it with you for consumption throughout the day. By refrigeration, you can store your freshly made juice in a tightly sealed container like a mason jar for up 24 hours.

Now, while consuming fresh juice is safe for healthy individuals, problems can arise when too much fruit is consumed in juice form.

Most fruit houses significant amounts of sugar, which can lead to undue weight gain and other health problems. Individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, or those who are sensitive to sugar should exercise extreme caution when it comes to drinking fresh juice, especially fruit juice.

Related Article: Drinking Smoothies with Diabetes: What You Should Know

In general, vegetables trump fruits, as they tend to be much lower in sugar and total calories. For maximal health benefits, it’s best to use a fruit-to-vegetable ratio of at least 1:2 or even 1:3 when drinking fresh juice. In other words, for every 2 servings of fruit you juice add 4-6 servings of vegetables.

Happy juicing!

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Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.