For some adults, eating fruits and vegetables has been a struggle since childhood. Maybe taste got in the way when we were younger and pickier about what was put on our plate. Perhaps convenience was the issue when we were older and trying to run out the door to work. But as we get older and leading a healthier lifestyle gets higher on our radar, we realize we need to incorporate those nutrient-rich foods in our diet one way or another. Thankfully, there’s a delicious and convenient way to do it: juicing.
Juicing makes taking in the immune-boosting nutrients that are found in fruits and vegetables easy, allowing you to add healthier habits to your routine and a variety of options to your meal planning. And with studies showing that eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day can decrease the risk of stroke by 26% and reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, juicing is a great way to help ensure you get enough fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Juicers Vs. Blenders
First things first, you’ll need a good quality juicer. Be specific in your search as you are looking for a juicer, not a blender. A blender’s job is to liquefy and blend everything that is placed in it. When you use a blender, the insoluble fiber, or pulp, stays with the juice. A juicer, on the other hand, will remove the insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is indigestible, which means difficult or impossible to digest. Research varies on this, but it is believed that some nutrients get trapped in that insoluble fiber. So when you blend fruits and vegetables, part of what you drink is fiber you won’t digest with nutrients in it that you won’t absorb. But with juicing, you extract up to 70% of the nutrients from the fruits and vegetables into your glass. And because the insoluble fiber isn’t there trapping them, your body gets to absorb 100% of those nutrients.
Of course, both juicing and blending have health benefits. If either of them is getting you to eat your fruits and vegetables and take in more of the nutrients your body needs, that’s great. Juicers can be expensive, so if what you are really looking to do is make fruit smoothies, save your money and use an ordinary blender. But if you are looking to blend more whole fruits and vegetables or if you prefer to drink fruit and vegetable juices that are more filtered and smooth, a juicer is what you want to buy.
When selecting your juicer, some things to look for include the pulp ejection, the size of the feeder tube, the juice collector, the cord storage, how easy it is to clean, and if it has multiple speeds. And if you plan to add wheatgrass to your mixes, you’ll need to look for a masticating juicer.
Some of the most popular juicers on the market include:
The Breville Juice Fountain Plus (about $150) - This juicer does great with most produce and is large enough to make two 20-ounce juices at once.
The Breville Juice Fountain Elite (about $300) - This is an upgraded version of the Juice Fountain Plus. It offers more power and works better with leafy greens than the Juice Fountain Plus, but it is twice the price.
The Breville Juice Fountain Compact (about $100) - This juicer is smaller and less powerful than the other two and will make less juice at a time. However, its compact design takes up less space and it might be good if you are juicing for one person and the price of the Breville Juice Fountain Plus is a little too steep.
Of course, there are many other brands to consider. Omega and Kuvings are two brands that also come highly recommended on various juicing sites.
Making Healthy Choices
The next thing you need to do is choose which juice you want to try so you can start juicing. Think of the health benefits you want to achieve by juicing and look for recipes that will help you reach your goals. For example, if you want to boost your heart health, search for recipes that include options like dates, berries, kale, watermelon, or root vegetables like carrots and beets. Then make a grocery list so you save yourself from leaving the store without an important ingredient.
Whatever you choose, be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables first before cutting them or placing them whole into the juicer. Unwashed fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with bacteria. If your produce is too large to fit into the juicer, cut it down to size just before you juice (vegetables start losing nutrients when cut so avoid slicing them ahead of time). Then get to juicing. Follow the directions on your juicer as they can vary.
Keeping on the heart healthy theme, you may want to try this juicing recipe from juicerecipes.com:
3 leaves of fresh basil
1.5 cups of blueberries
2 pinches of cayenne pepper (spice)
Half of a lime
5 cups of diced watermelon
Now for the best part, drink up and enjoy. If you don’t drink your juice right away, it can lose the nutritional value you have worked so hard to hold onto. Remember, one of the reasons this juice is good for you is because it has no preservatives, so it can go bad quickly. Although it is recommended that you drink the juice immediately, in general, juice can be stored in an airtight container, preferably glass, in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. Check the recipe or your juicer for recommendations.
Finally, keep your juicer clean. Never let your juicer sit out where the juice dries and then becomes very hard to clean. Parts of your juicer may be dishwasher safe (check the manual). For parts that aren’t, clean your juicer with warm water and soap after use, then place it on a drying mat or rack.
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