Should You Juice?

Making your own juice: the pros and cons

juicingJuicing is a popular way to get all your recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. If you don't care for the texture or taste of certain fruits and veggies, turning them into juice can be a good way to get the nutrients they offer. On top of this easy-to-swallow perk, juicing is often pitched as a good way to lose weight or cleanse toxins from your body. But is this claim true? Are there any negatives when it comes to juicing, and is it truly an economical way to eat your fruits and vegetables?

Before you go out and buy a fancy juicer, here's what you should know about juicing and your health.

Nutritional Value of Juicing
A juicing machine works by extracting the liquid from whole vegetables or fruits. The resulting juice contains most of the phytonutrients (plant nutrients), vitamins, and minerals from the fruit or vegetable. Unfortunately, the nutrients and fiber found in the skin and pulp of your favorite - or not-so-favorite - fruits and veggies are eliminated when you rely solely on juicing. Juicing proponents claim that juice is better for you because your body can more easily absorb the nutrients from juice and your digestive system can get a rest from breaking down fiber. However, this is not the case. Your digestive tract needs fiber to stay healthy and to do its job.

Therefore, don't count on juicing to cover all your fruit and veggie servings. Instead, aim to eat at least three whole veggies and two whole fruits a day. The more variety and color the better.

Juicing for Weight Loss and Detox
Weight loss is about fewer calories in, more calories out. To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. So when you consider juicing to lose weight keep this in mind. Fruit calories can add up. A medium piece of fruit contains about 60 calories and makes about four ounces of juice. Vegetables, on the other hand, have around 25 calories per cup, and leafy greens only have about one-third that much. So unless you're going leafy green, a 12-ounce serving of juice can cause the calories to add up quickly.

A juice diet often lacks protein and fiber, causing you to feel hungrier sooner and putting you at risk to lose muscle. To make sure you're getting enough protein, try adding almond milk, flaxseed, Greek yogurt, or peanut butter to your juice. Going on an extreme juice diet may also temporarily slow your metabolism. And once you resume a normal diet, your body may build fat cells faster.

As far as cleansing your body through juices, there is no scientific research to defend the claim that juicing is a way to detox your body from harmful toxins. That is the job of your kidneys and liver, and as long as you're eating a well-balanced diet, they should do their job just fine.

Safety Concerns of Juicing
When juicing, it is important to follow food safety guidelines. Wash your hands before handling any food. Also wash the fruit or vegetable before juicing. Use hot, soapy water or the sanitize cycle on your dishwasher to clean the blender or juicer and make sure it is completely dry before storing. Be sure to make only as much juice as you can drink in one day. Since the juice is not pasteurized, it can develop harmful bacteria quickly.

Is Juicing Economical?
Juicing machines range in cost from $30 to $400. The more expensive brands will even grind the seeds, core, and rind, making it easy to just throw the produce in without coring or peeling. Some blenders will make juice as well. If you drink a lot of juice, making it yourself may save you money. However, it takes a lot of fruit to make a glass of juice.

Yes or No
While advertisements make many health claims about the benefits of juicing, there is no scientific evidence that juice is healthier than eating a whole fruit or vegetable. But if you are among those who don't enjoy eating fresh produce, juicing may be a great way for you to add those foods to your diet. So get your juicer and hop online for some yummy juicing recipes!

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