You’ve heard it your entire life—”eat your vegetables”—but do you truly realize how important a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is to your health? Raw fruits and vegetables can provide up to 95 percent of the vitamins and enzymes that your body needs to function at an optimum level. Making your diet more plant-based can also prevent (and sometimes reverse) diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. It can also help you lose weight, while having a significantly positive impact on your vision, skin quality and digestive system.
The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recommends that you eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This translates to about 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily. If that sounds daunting, you may want to think about juicing. Just one 16 oz glass of juice can provide the same nutrients that you would gain from eating two pounds of carrots, 10-12 apples, or eight pounds of spinach! Juicing also enables highly concentrated vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to enter your bloodstream more rapidly so that your body can absorb all of the nutritional benefits of the fruits and vegetables while giving your digestive organs a much-needed rest.
First Choose Your Equipment
There are some great juicers on the market at a wide variety of price points, ranging from $50-$900. The most expensive juicers are hydraulic presses. These are used to create cold pressed juices and are typically only used by professionals. Masticating juicers are more popular for home juicing. They crush the fruit and vegetables first and then press them, ultimately yielding more juice. Masticating juicers are easy to clean, too. Just keep in mind that your juices won’t last very long (as opposed to cold pressed), so you’ll want to drink them within 1-2 days.
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If you’re not 100 percent committed to juicing just yet, or you’re looking to save money, you can also use a simple blender. You will definitely have to put in more work with a blender, as you’ll need to remove seeds and rinds. You will also need a sharp knife for chopping fruits and vegetables. This will make the juicing process go faster. A stiff brush is also helpful for cleaning up your equipment after juicing.
Keep Plenty of Fresh Ingredients On Hand
It takes a lot of produce to yield one cup of juice. If you plan on juicing daily, you’ll need to keep your fridge stocked with fresh ingredients, perhaps shopping every 2-3 days. For local, in-season produce at a great price, check out your local farmer’s markets for great deals on large bunches of produce like kale, cucumber, celery, parsley, collard greens, spinach, ginger, lemon, apple, lime and pears.
If you really get into juicing, you may want to consider joining a produce delivery network. Local farmers will deliver fruits and vegetables that are in-season and at the peak of freshness to help you create the most delicious juices.
Be Mindful of Calories
While fresh juice is definitely healthy and rich in nutrients, if you are using more than four fruits, the calories and sugar content will add up fast. Consider using vegetables as the primary base for your use and then adding in an apple, pineapple chunks, or a kiwi to sweeten the juice and improve the taste. This is a great strategy for green juice, too which is very good for you, but can be difficult for some to palate because of its bitter taste.
Keep Your Recipes Fresh
Balancing flavors to make your juice tasty can be tricky at first. Once you do get the hang of it though, try not to fall into the rut with the same reliable recipes because not only will you be more likely to lose interest in juicing, but you’ll also be missing out on a tons of different flavors and the nutrients that come along with them. For instance, beets may not be the first vegetables you think of when juicing, but they are actually very sweet. They also help protect your liver and are very effective at reducing your blood pressure. Check out this recipe for warming beet juice from Deliciously Ella. Experiment with your juicing routine to get a super dose of nutrients. Your body will thank you!
Don’t Forget About Fiber
One downside to juicing is that juicing machines extract the pulp, which contains much of the fiber. Consider adding some of the pulp back to your juice or using it in your cooking so that you don’t miss out on the fiber. You can add pulp to soups, veggie burgers, muffin mix, or even make delicious dog treats from it. Fiber is an important part of your diet, as it helps to regulate your digestion and make you feel fuller so that you eat more reasonable portions. Fiber has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while decreasing your risks for several types of cancer.
Danielle Hegedus is an Atlanta based writer. She is a regular contributor to Modernize, as well as a variety of lifestyle and home design websites. Danielle recently finished her first cookbook, in collaboration with Chef, Kamal Grant for Atlanta’s beloved, Sublime Doughnuts.