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Is the latest juicing craze as healthy as it sounds?

All Juiced Up

The latest trend in the health food craze, juicing is a great way to drink more healthfully.

There’s a new health trend that’s swept the nation and unless you’ve been hibernating for the last year, you’ve probably heard of it: juicing. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle but dislike the taste of vegetables, or if you’re simply concerned that you’re not eating enough earth-grown goodies, buying a juicer/blender to liquefy your fruits and veggies just might be your answer.

But if the things you’ve heard about juicing so far have left you confused and unsure of where to start, you’re not alone.

First, there’s a difference between juicing and blending. Juicing is the process of extracting fibers and solids from fruits and vegetables and can be accomplished by purchasing either a centrifugal or masticating juicer. A centrifugal juicer is the most common type and generally the most affordable. Centrifugal juicers create juice via a shredder disc that spins at high speed. Unlike centrifugal juicers, the masticating juicer crushes and squeezes fruits and vegetables at a much slower pace, similar to the motion of your mouth chewing (hence the name). Masticating juicers are pricier, but their juice usually has a longer shelf life and typically produces a higher yield.

Juicing’s primary drawback is the extraction of fiber, so many choose to pulverize everything with a blender to retain all content—fiber included. In most cases, the blender-versus-juicer debate comes down to a matter of taste or the mood you’re in. For example, juicing an apple will give you a consistency similar to apple juice, while blending an apple will result in something similar to applesauce. Sounds good either way, right? But this isn’t the case with all combinations. What about spinach, kale, celery and carrots? Most would agree that this combo is more palatable when created with a juicer.

There are also a lot of health claims around juicing that haven’t been proven yet. For instance, there’s no sound scientific evidence that juicing or blending fruits and vegetables is better than eating them whole. However, most will agree that incorporating them in your daily diet is the most important thing, no matter how you choose to do it.

Be sure to drink your homemade juice as soon as possible. Fresh juice can quickly develop harmful bacteria, and as juice comes into contact with air, the raw nutrients will lose value and the enzymes will begin to deteriorate. Wondering why manufactured juices can be stored for months at a time? It’s because they’ve been pasteurized, but this process can destroy the important vitamins, minerals and enzymes found in fresh-made juice.

Finally, be mindful of the amounts of high-glycemic fruits you consume—too much could cause a spike in blood sugar. Balance is key, so make sure to add low-glycemic, high-nutrient greens to your juices, too. Most important, don’t be afraid to have fun! There are no exacting recipes or rules. If you don’t like the taste of celery, don’t use it. Certain fruit and vegetables taste well together, and you’ll learn what those combinations are over time.

In the mean time, enjoy the process of taking the necessary steps to improve your health. Cheers!

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