Juicing and Green Smoothies: Drinking to Your Health
Some people base their entire diet around carbohydrates; they use rice or potatoes as the main part of the meal and build on that. Others use protein, opting to make the meat the star of the plate. But everyone knows the real nutrients are in your fruits and veggies. Sadly, on the average adult's plate, fruits and veggies are the thing most likely to be absent.
If you don't like to eat your veggies, or just don't find time to cook and make vegetable side dishes, there's no reason you have to forgo all the nutrients they have to offer. Instead of eating your fruits and veggies, you can drink them.
The two most effective ways to drink your fruits and veggies is through juicing and green smoothies.
Great Resources for the Kitchen Cookbook Shelf!
The Importance of Fruits and Vegetables
No one disputes the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, yet so few people get their daily requirement of 5 + servings of veggies and 3 to 5 servings of fruit. There are a lot of excuses-- I mean, reasons-- we come up with for not meeting that minimum quota:
- I don't have time to cook
- I don't have time for sit-down meals
- I buy them, but by the time I get around to cooking them they've gone bad
- I don't like the taste of most vegetables-- I'm a meat & potatoes person
- I never grew up eating veggies so I'm just not used to them
Sound familiar? How many of us have not said something like that at some time? Most of us have, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In a 2009 report, after a 10 year study, they found that less than a third of adults were eating at least two servings of fruit per day, and barely a quarter were eating three servings of vegetables. The news was even worse for children, of whom only 13 percent were eating their daily veggies.
Unfortunately, it's to our own detriment. The health benefits (according to the CDC) of eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables include:
- they provide the bulk of our essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and other healthy substances
- They're naturally low in fat and calories, and are very filling;this can help you manage your weight
- eating the recommended amount can reduce the risk of certain diseases, like cancer
Why Drink Your Fruits and Veggies?
Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is a great habit to get into, but there are benefits to juicing or making green smoothies. In some cases, juices or smoothies can be superior to eating your vegetables and fruit.
- If you don't get in your daily recommended allowance because you don't like the taste or don't like preparing your produce, then juicing and making smoothies at least helps you get down all those nutrients. A glass takes only minutes to prepare. You can drink it in place of or along-side a meal.
- You can hide the flavors of fruits and veggies you don't like to get them down. For instance, if you hate broccoli or beets, instead of doing without their vital nutrients, mix them with apples and berries in the juicer or blender-- you'll never taste them.
- Sometimes the way you prepare vegetables does more harm than good. The best way to get benefits out of veggies and fruits is to eat them as close to nature as possible-- ideally, raw. Some vegetables are not very edible when raw, though-- unless you juice them or make them a smoothie.
- If the only way you are used to getting your veggies down is to bread and fry them, to add butter and other fats, or to cook them to death in stews, you are probably killing all the live nutrients you're trying to get. Juicing or making smoothies with raw vegetables would give you greater nutritional value for far fewer calories (not to mention less fat and salt).
- When you eat fruits and-- especially-- veggies, it can take hours and hours for the nutrients to break down and become available to your system. Juicing or making fruit and vegetable smoothies breaks them down before you ingest them and your cells readily absorb and utilize the nutrients.
Superior Juicer Investments
Juicing is when you use a juicer to extract juice from a fruit and vegetable. It leaves the pulp-- the bulk of which is fiber and indigestible-- behind.
Some people prefer juicing because:
- they prefer the thin, more liquid texture that makes it more drinkable
- then don't need the excess fiber, or can have a hard time ingesting all that excess fiber
- they don't mind cleaning and maintaining a juicer
- they want to drink their juice along-side a meal, as a beverage
- they want to drink more, and juicing is less filling than a smoothie so they can really increase the amount of nutrients they drink
Best Blenders for your Buck
Green smoothies, on the other hand, pulverize the fruits and vegetables in the blender. The pulp mixes into the drink, creating a thick, smoothie texture. You make green smoothies by adding fruits and veggies to the blender with a splash of water (or some other liquid) to thin it out enough to blend.
Some people prefer green smoothies because:
- they like the thicker texture of a smoothie
- they need the extra fiber, and prefer it to taking supplements
- they feel a blender is easier to clean and maintain than a juicer
- a good quality blender costs less and is more useful in the kitchen than a quality juicer
- they mainly want to drink their smoothies as meal replacements, and the thicker consistency is more filling
- they want to prepare smoothies in advance. While juices need to be consumed immediately to get the proper nutrients, smoothies will last for up to a couple of days
To Juice or Not to Juice
Which to Choose?
Smoothies do retain a few more nutrients, plus have the added benefit of fiber, but not enough to be significant. If you already have a high fiber diet, the extra fiber may not provide enough of a benefit to choose smoothies over juicing. On the flip side, you may want to drink more nutrients, but you can only drink so much of a dense smoothie; that fiber can hold you back.
It basically comes down to preference. Adding either to your diet will enhance your health and your life. If you can add both-- juicing for quick boosts of energy by drinking copious amounts of nutrients, and smoothies for giving you additional nutrients, fiber to cleanse the system and to keep you satiated-- then go for it.
Great Tips for Juicing and Green Smoothie Making
Some flavor additives:
- To sweeten your juice or smoothies naturally, put a few fresh leaves of stevia in there. Stevia is an herb that's sweeter than sugar, but does not affect you like sugar. It effects you like an herb! It won't spike your blood sugar or raise the calories in the drink!
- If you can't find fresh stevia, or grow your own, use a couple of drops of stevia extract. This can be a great way for people who like sweets but hate veggies to drink some of the more bitter vegetables.
- To brighten up the flavor of any juice or smoothie and give it a lemony taste without the tartness, throw in a handful of lemon balm.
- Looking for a savory flavor? Warm and spice up that juice or smoothie with a touch of ginger.
- Instead of adding water, add some herbal fruit teas to your smoothie to thin it out.
Healthful additives to make your juice or smoothie even more powerful:
- Spurinula-- algea highly rich in minerals and calcium
- Pro-biotics-- just open your capsules and dump in the contents.
- Flax seed oil-- healthy essential fatty acids
- Protien powder-- for an added protien boost
- Debittered brewers yeast-- to give you an energy boost and help maintain blood sugar levels
Some classic combinations that are a real hit
- carrot, apple, broccoli
- kale, watermelon, berries
- spinach, strawberry, banana
- celery, cucumber, turnip greens
- strawberry, banana, broccoli
- strawberry, watermelon, broccoli, beets
- mango, peach, parsley, chard
Can't I Just Buy Juice or Smoothies?
Some people think they can just buy a jug of juice at the supermarket, or take a trip to the smoothie bar. Unfortunately, these don't come close to touching the nutrition of home-made fruit juices and smoothies.
For one thing, the nutrients and all the health benefits just don't last once fruit is juiced or blended. To top it off, packaged products have gone through pasteurization and other processes involving heat, which further serve to destroy the nutritional benefits.
Smoothie bars are essentially dessert in a cup, but because they are generally all fruit, they are also all sugar. They don't carry the same kind of benefits as juice made with a mixture of fruit and vegetables, or an all-veggie drink. Some bars even add sugar or syrups to further sweeten the product-- which can be unhealthy and add calories you don't need.
The only way to get the full benefits of drinking juice or smoothies is by making it from fresh produce-- preferably organic if you can afford it. There are some smoothie and juice bars that offer fresh, organic, unsweetened products. But making them at home from fresh produce you pick up in season at farmer's markets will in the long run be a lot cheaper than buying them pre-made, and a lot more convenient.