Drink Up! Juicing for Your Health

Photo: mathiasbaert via Flickr

Why juice?

Why not just eat the produce whole, right? Well, it’s not so simple. Actually, many of the healthy benefits of produce are locked inside the fiber and when you eat, say, a whole apple, some of those nutrients just pass right through your body, undigested. By juicing the produce, you can break those nutrients free from the fibers and enjoy their maximum benefits. Although we do need plant fiber in our diets, we also need the precious vitamins and minerals they hold within. Juicing is an easy way to digest them.

Green juice has become all the rage, but many people just can’t stand the thought of sipping down one of those “green monsters,” no matter what health benefits they offer. Good news: juices of all colors and varieties can boost your health.

In the start of a new year, a lot of us are thinking about cleansing and detoxing. The notion of ridding the body of the old, the bad, the toxic can be really attractive. So, you might be thinking about a juice cleanse. Embarking on a juice cleanse can be serious business. Also known as a “liquid fast,” this means replacing some or all of your solid foods with juice meals for several days or even weeks. A juice cleanse like this is thought to help rid the body of toxins, and many people experience increased energy and mental clarity after completing such a cleanse. As with any major change to your diet, you may want to check in with your physician or other trusted medical professional before you ditch the solid foods, especially if you have any chronic conditions.

If you decide a juice cleanse isn’t the thing for you, you still have options. Adding even a little bit of fresh juice to your everyday diet can offer some of the same benefits as a cleanse. Many people like to replace their regular breakfast with a juice meal, since juice is easy to digest and your body is eager to absorb the nutrients first thing in the morning. A tall glass of fresh veggie juice can also be a great mid-afternoon pick-me-up or workout recovery drink.

Today’s world marketplace offers a lot of options for those who wish to juice at home. Home juicers range from the “rather cheap” to the “wildly expensive” and many models have a myriad of confusing bells and whistles. When shopping for your first juicer, the most important things to keep in mind is your budget and the amount of time you wish to spend cleaning the thing. Think about the types of produce you’ll want to juice. Will you be going for the really fibrous stuff? Are you willing to peel and chop your produce, or do you want the freedom to chuck it in the juicer whole? These are all things to consider.

If you think you might be looking to add a juicer to your kitchen appliance collection, check out these three top-rated home juicers on Amazon:

  1. Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain 700-Watt Juice Extractor – $99.95 on Amazon.com
  2. Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor – $149.95 on Amazon.com
  3. Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Commercial Masticating Juicer – $279.99 on Amazon.com

It’s still possible to produce your own fresh juices at home, even if you don’t have a fancy juicer. Many fruits and veggies with high water content (think greens, apples, citrus, etc) can be “juiced” in a blender. Simply peel and core your produce, discarding any seeds, and chop into small pieces. Pile into your blender, add a bit of water if needed, and puree away. You can drink your “juice” with the pulp included or you can strain it through a fine mesh strainer or sieve for a lighter elixir. The pulp can be added to soups and sauces, or to your compost bin. For some tips on creating your own juice blends, see the recipes below.

Photo: 60dayjuicefast via Flickr

Luckily, you can still get your mitts on fresh juices even if you don’t own a juicer or have access to organic produce. A number of web-based companies offer bottles juices including juice blends and multi-day cleanses for a variety of purposes, like weight loss or detox.

Fresh juices like this are shipped cold or frozen, and some companies even include a reusable soft-sided cooler. Prices can be high, but you’re paying as much for quality as you are for convenience. Shopping for bottled juice or a juice cleanse online can be confusing, but Chef Amber Shea has reviewed many of the top-rated juice cleanse programs on her blog, so that’s a great resource for learning about some of your options.

If you decide to dabble in juice-making at home, whether you own a juicer or plan to use the blend-and-strain method, start with these two simple and tasty recipes, and then experiment with other ingredients to find out what you like and what works for your body.

Detox Juice Recipe
One whole pineapple, peeled and cored
One cucumber (peeled if not organic)
2/3 cup aloe vera juice
1 cup coconut water

Energy Juice Recipe
2 whole apples (peeled and cored)
1 whole lemon (peeled and seeded)
1-2 stalks celery
1 cup water


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