If we can become juicing converts, you can too.
Looking at the World Through Beet-Colored Glasses
Just so we’re clear about this, the juice created using a juicer is about as different from a gallon of Sunny Delight as Antarctica is from Hawaii. The canned, bottled, and packaged juices sold in stores are pasteurized to kill bacteria and prolong their shelf life, but in the process, they also lose valuable enzymes and other living ingredients that highly perishable fresh juice contains. To ensure that you’re taking full advantage of the nutritional gifts fresh juice provides, you’ll need to purchase a good-quality juicer—not a blender or a food processor—that separates the liquid from the pulp of all kinds of produce. Juicers typically include a cutting blade, a filter, and a feature that expels the pulp from the machine and into a receptacle that can be emptied easily.
Fruits and vegetables produce much more pulp than they do liquid, so when you begin juicing, you’ll likely be surprised by how little juice a tremendous amount of ingredients produces. (It’s similar to the sautéed-spinach phenomenon, in which an enormous pile of raw spinach yields barely enough cooked greens for one side helping.) Fortunately, it’s a good idea to start small when you’re beginning your juicing journey—sixteen ounces of homemade juice daily should be an adequate test of your patience (for washing all that produce and cleaning the juicer), your bank account (organic food doesn’t come cheap), and your taste buds (kale-beet juice doesn’t exactly taste like Tropicana).
Drink to Your Health
The half-cup of liquid that results from the seemingly endless stream of carrots, apples, and greens you feed into your juicer’s whizzing blade epitomizes the saying “less is more”—it’s chock-full of a dazzling array of good-for-you elements. First, fresh juice contains plentiful natural water, which contains far fewer chemicals (such as chlorine and fluoride) than public water sources do. It’s also replete with vitamins—many of which are lost or diluted when produce is cooked—and minerals, which support blood and bone functions. The electrolyte potassium, which is essential for blood-pressure maintenance and heart and kidney health, is abundant in fresh fruit and vegetable juices, as is unsaturated fat, which produces energy and enhances nerve cells.
Moreover, drinking juice is the equivalent of giving your digestive system a vacation. Liquefying fruits and vegetables in a juicer designed to conserve their health benefits allows your body to sidestep the taxing chewing and nutrient-extraction process it has to undertake when it’s forced to digest vegetables and fruits in their solid state. Your stomach, intestines, liver, gall bladder, and pancreas will be eternally grateful to you if you substitute fresh juices for even a week’s worth of bulky produce.
As tempting as it may be to drink your fill of fresh fruit juice, it’s not advisable; fruit is high in sugar, so vegetable juices should comprise the majority of your liquid diet. Vegetables’ alkaline pH helps the human body avoid overacidification, which depletes mineral resources, hampers enzymatic activity, and debilitates tissue—all of which can lead to illness.
Green juices stand out in the vegetable-juice category for their high concentrations of chlorophyll, which aids liver detoxification and can purify and rebuild blood cells, and carotenes, known for their antioxidant properties and their capacity to protect people from cancer and heart disease. The most nutrient-rich juiceable greens are parsley, spinach, kale, and broccoli; however, because these ingredients often taste bitter in liquid form, you may find it more appetizing to incorporate a Granny Smith apple or two into juice recipes that include them.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink
Juicing ingredients can be combined in endless permutations, and trial and error is often the most effective means of arriving at a recipe repertoire that works best for your body and your palate. For juicing newbies, this detoxifying veggie “cocktail,” from The Complete Book of Juicing is a good jumping-off point:
1/2 cup wheatgrass or parsley
1 apple, cut into wedges
2 celery ribs
1/2 beet with top
Bunch up the wheatgrass or parsley and push through the juicer with the aid of a carrot. Alternate remaining ingredients to ensure proper mixing.
If only former Major League Baseball star Jose Canseco had dedicated his memoir, Juiced, to veggies instead of steroids, all would be right with the world. But there’s no time like the present to begin substituting fresh fruit juice for bacon and eggs in the morning, or vegetable juice for your usual lunch salad. Chewing and swallowing three pounds of fresh produce every day may seem inconceivable, but drinking a glass of juice that’s not much bigger than your morning latte will achieve the same nutritional outcome, leaving your jaw intact and your body firing on all cylinders.