For this particular post I was asked by the team at Williams-Sonoma to share my thoughts about juicing. I was not compensated for this post. My opinions are my own.
As a Registered Dietitan/Nutritionist I get a lot of questions about juicing. Clients and patients often share their recipes with me and their machine recommendations. My opinion of juicing is not always what they expect. Although fruit and fruit juices are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals they are sources of calories that can add up.
I am certainly not saying that fruit and fruit juice is bad. Actually I have to correct many patients and clients who think they should not eat fruit because “it has too much sugar”. Fruit does contain sugar, natural sugar. Fruit is still good for your body despite having sugar. Yes some sugar is not evil! But anything we consume in excess of what our bodies need will be stored in the body as fat tissue.
So what is juicing? Juicing involves using a machine to extract the juice from the fibrous plant material:
- Centrifugal juicers work at high speeds to chop the fruit and vegetables and separate the juice from the plant material. This process produces heat, which can degrade some of the enzymes in the fruit and vegetables.
- Cold Press Juicers or Masticating Juicers extract juice by pressing fruit and vegetables. Less heat is produced preserving the nutrient content.
- Whole Food Juicers: Liquefy the fruit and vegetables and keep all the plant material together. You are consuming the entire fruit or vegetable, juice plus fiber.
- Thanks to Williams-Sonoma for this great resource for considering all types of juicers. Guide to Juicers
Whole food juicing is the only type of juicing that incorporates the fibrous plant material. Fiber is what fills us up. Without fiber you will be able to consume more, which can increase your calorie intake. Fiber also aids in digestion by promoting motility and formation of stool, which we need (Sorry to be gross, but as a dietitian we have to consider what goes in a what goes out!). Many proponents of juicing state the opposite, that we don’t need the fiber. Actually that we don’t want the fiber! Proponents state that we would absorb more nutrients without fiber and give our GI system a rest. To date there is no scientific evidence that this is true.
Juicing is excellent though for people who don’t consume a lot of fruit and vegetables. Maybe they don’t care for the taste or texture of fruit and/or vegetables, but mixed together into a drink makes the plants more appealing and palatable. If this is you go ahead and juice away, but beware of the quantity you are consuming. I always ask my clients to consider this point, if you were to eat all the fruits and vegetables used to make that juice or smoothie how full do you think you would be? Or, would you be capable of eating all of those plants in one sitting? If you are juicing I would limit your intake to one serving a day.
Juice cleansing is really popular now. Do I believe in juice cleanses? I’m sure you can figure out the answer, NO! First of all I don’t recommend cleanses in any shape or form. Our bodies can remove waste perfectly without our assistance. Cleanses rob the body of essential nutrients. Sure you will lose weight because you are not feeding your body what it needs. As soon as you go back to a normal diet the weight you lost will be back.
If you are a regular reader here you already know I own a Vitamix, which is a whole food juicer. I make fruit smoothies about 3-5 times per week usually just using a variety of fruit. On occasion I will add some spinach into the mix. As you can probably tell I am a proponent of consuming the whole food. I can not end this post without sharing a recipe!
My favorite mixture is banana, strawberries, blueberries, and coconut milk. I freeze most of my fruit. I usually will let the fruit sit out for a few minutes to allow it to defrost a bit. Otherwise the Vitamix is not very happy. I place the coconut milk into the Vitamix first, followed by the fruit.
- 3/4 cup sweetened coconut milk
- 1/3 cup blueberries
- 1 small banana or 1/2 of a large banana
- 1 cup strawberries
- Pour coconut milk into blender.
- Add banana, strawberries, and blueberries.
- Blend to desired consistency.