Juicing and Blending: Two Easy Ways To Get Your Health On!
Ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day may seem like a lot, but thankfully, there are two easy ways to get them in: juicing and blending. Both methods are also great ways to get kids who are picky eaters (and adults who are picky eaters!) to get more nutrients in every day.
Are you getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables every day?
Chances are, like most people – you could do a little better when it comes to regular intake. A recent study found the greatest health benefits come from eating 10 portions a day.
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Researchers from Imperial College London analyzed 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake. The meta-analysis included 2 million people from populations worldwide and assessed up to 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 112,000 cancer cases, and 94,000 deaths. The results were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2017.
Fruit and vegetable intakes were associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. These results support public health recommendations to increase fruit and vegetable intake for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature mortality.
Ten servings a day may seem like a lot, but thankfully, there are two easy ways to get them in: juicing and blending. Both methods are also great ways to get kids who are picky eaters (and adults who are picky eaters!) to get more nutrients in every day.
What is juicing?
Juicing is a process where the liquid part of the fruit or vegetable is separated from the pulp or fiber. You get a thin and concentrated liquid product that contains vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients, which are bioactive plant-derived compounds associated with positive health benefits.
You probably have noticed juice products in your local stores. They tend to be quite expensive (a case of Naked Juice is $40 on Amazon). Making your own juice will save you money, and juice made at home will be a lot more fresh than bottled juices that are sold in stores. The fresher the juice, the more nutritious.
To make juice at home, you’ll need a juicer. There are many different kinds on the market at different price points, but here we will discuss three main types: Centrifugal, masticating, and steaming.
As you feed produce through the chute of a centrifugal juicer, it makes direct contact with a blade that shreds it. The juice from the fruits and vegetables is thrown by the centrifugal force of the spinning basket toward the sides of the basket and pushed through it into a container.
This type of juicer uses a single auger (gear) that’s spiral in shape to press and chew (masticate) fruits and vegetables as they’re fed into the tube. Masticating juicers slowly extract juice and collect it in a container, and the pulp is continuously ejected at the end of the gear shaft into a pulp container. While these machines take longer to produce juice, they extract more juice from produce. Some claim this kind of juicing retains more nutrients than centrifugal juicers.
Steam juicers allow you to extract the juice from high liquid fruits and vegetables with the power of steam. To use, boil water in the bottom pan and place your fruit in the top colander. As the water boils, steam rises and concentrated juice drips into the center juice kettle. Wash your fruit before placing it in the steamer. Remove stems, leaves, and pits from fruit, and cut larger pieces (apples, pears, peaches, etc) into halves or quarters before steaming. Steam juicers like this one are versatile and can also be used as a vegetable steamer, a roaster, and a colander. While this method takes longer to create juice, it allows you to juice fruits that don’t do well via other methods, and you can make a lot more juice at once.
However you decide to make your juice, be sure to drink it (or freeze it) immediately. The antioxidants and other phytonutrients start to break down almost immediately once they are exposed to light and air.
Because juicing can be time-consuming and quite messy, if you’d like to drink homemade juice on a regular basis, you could try making bigger batches and freezing it. It might not be quite as nutritious as fresh juice. But, we do know that frozen fruits and vegetables tend to retain nutrients – and in some cases, are even more nutritious than fruits and vegetables that have been sitting in the refrigerator for a few days. Freeze juice in wide-mouth jars.
Benefits of juicing
Juicing provides an easy way for you to consume fruits and vegetables you normally would not eat because you don’t like the taste or texture. You can blend bitter vegetables with a little fruit to mask the taste, for example.
And, it is one way to consume a wider variety of fruits and vegetables than you (or your children) might usually eat.
In addition, there is some evidence that certain nutrients, especially those in the carotenoid family, seem to be better absorbed from the juice. Carotenoids are found in carrots, tomatoes, spinach, apricots, melons, peppers, and lots of other brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. This class of nutrients seems to play a big role in preventing cancer.
Berries, cherries, and grapes can’t be juiced in a centrifugal juicer. You’ll need a masticating juicer for those. Or, you can try using a steam juicer instead.
What is blending?
With blending, the whole fruit or vegetable is used – what you put in the blender is what you consume. The volume of the drink, which is often called a smoothie, will be much greater than that of a juice made from the same amount of fruits or vegetables. You can use anything from a standard blender to higher-end products like a Vitamix. I’ve had my Vitamix for about 16 years and it was worth the investment. I use it regularly and it is still going strong.
If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a blender to make juice out of high-water-content fruits and vegetables, but you’ll have to remove the pulp with a strainer (unless you like VERY pulpy juice!). You’ll also need to add some water to make the juice drinkable.
Which is better – juicing or blending?
Both are great ways to get a lot of nutrients into your family’s diet.
But, there are pros and cons to each, which is why doing a bit of both is ideal.
Juice is less filling. Smoothies are more filling and you can add things in that can’t be juiced, like nuts, seeds, oats, and protein powder. Some fruits – like avocados and bananas – can’t be juiced because their water content is too low, so try blending them instead.
You may have heard that juicing removes fiber, so blending is better. And, you may have heard that juicing is better because it makes nutrients easier to absorb.
According to Monica Reinagel, the Nutrition Diva, both of those claims may be true, but it probably doesn’t matter much in the scope of things:
“Blending or juicing foods can make certain nutrients more absorbable. It may decrease the effectiveness of some fibers but increase the effectiveness of others. Honestly, I think this falls into the (rather large) category of things that probably aren’t worth worrying about. If you enjoy smoothies or fresh juice, feel free to include them in the rotation. They can be a good source of nutrition.”
You can get the best of both worlds by making your own juice and then adding it to a smoothie made in a blender.
One benefit of adding your fresh juice to smoothies is that you can add protein powder and healthy fat. Juice itself is not a suitable meal replacement because it lacks those macronutrients.
To do this, make a little juice, and then put it in your blender with whole fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients to make a smoothie. This method will save you money, too – one downside of juicing can be the expense of having to buy so much fresh produce. Of course, growing your own can help you save a lot of money, and you’ll always have fresh produce available.
You can put whole leafy greens in a juicer or a blender – they blend well with fruits and other vegetables and their flavor is masked (a benefit for those who find them unpleasant on their own). Lemon and lime juice can help reduce the bitterness of greens and both are very low in sugar.
Juicing will leave you with a lot of leftover pulp. The good news is that you don’t have to toss it out – you can use the pulp for at least 20 different things.
Which fruits and vegetables can be used?
Some fruits and vegetables are better for juicing, some are better for steam juicing, and some are better for blending. And, some are great for all three methods.
Here are some fruits and vegetables that are great for juicing:
- leafy greens (examples: kale, spinach, Swiss chard)
- sweet potato
- celery (the flavor can be overpowering, so don’t use too much)
Cherries can be tricky to juice because their pits need to be removed first, and it take a lot of cherries to make juice. Steam juicing or blending works best for cherries. You can buy frozen pitted cherries, which can save you all the time that would be involved in removing the pits by other methods.I buy pitted frozen cherries to use in smoothies.
Peaches, apricots, plums, and nectarines also contain pits (also known as stones or kernels) that need to be removed prior to using in juices and smoothies. Removing seeds from apples prior to juicing is a good idea, too.
Wash all produce before juicing or blending. Remove stems, leaves, pits, and seeds.
Here’s how to add flavor and other nutrients to your juices and smoothies.
Experiment with different fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices to see what you like.
My personal favorite juice is orange, apple and carrot with ginger and my favorite smoothie contain juice made with leafy greens blended with frozen berries, half of a banana, almond butter, chia seeds, ground flax, hemp protein powder, and water in my Vitamix.
You can add herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, mint, parsley,
Try adding some of these to smoothies: nuts, nut butter, Greek yogurt (the plain variety with no sugar or sweetener added), protein powder, chia seeds, flax, oats, dark chocolate.
Of course, options are only limited to your imagination – try adding a wide variety of different fruits, vegetables, and add-ins to your juices and smoothies. You’ll get a wide range of nutrients and won’t get bored.
While juicing and blending are good ways to add nutrients to your diet, it is possible to overdo it.
Whichever method you choose (or if you do a bit of both), be mindful of the ingredients you choose, watch your portion sizes, and watch your frequency of consumption. While a great source of nutrients, some juices and smoothies can end up being filled with calories and sugar as well.
Sugar from fruits and vegetables is generally okay, but you can overdo it – especially if you have Type 2 diabetes. A big glass of fresh juice can cause a sudden sharp rise in your blood sugar, which in turn provokes a big release of insulin from the pancreas, which then causes a quick drop in blood sugar. To prevent this from happening, make sure at least 80 percent of your juice comes from vegetables – green leafy veggies are ideal.
Another possible concern regarding juicing is high vitamin K content, as Everyday Health explains:
The high vitamin K content in a spinach-kale smoothie, for example, can be life-threatening if you take blood-thinning medications, like warfarin. Such anticoagulants often are prescribed after a stroke, deep vein thrombosis or other circulatory conditions.
Kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard, parsley and mustard greens – green juicers’ favorites – contain up to 550 micrograms of vitamin K per cup, which can lower the drugs’ anti-clotting activity.
If you take anticoagulants,limit your leafy green intake to a half-cup a day, unless your healthcare provider gives you the green light to add more. Big changes in vitamin K intake could lead to a blood clot, and a stroke or death.
If you have kidney problems, be careful with fruit and vegetable juices that contain high amounts of potassium.
Everyday Health elaborates:
Adults need 4,700 mg of potassium daily to keep the heart and muscles working. In healthy people, the kidneys generally excrete the excess.
But that doesn’t happen in people with compromised kidneys: Potassium builds in their blood, raising the risk of a heart attack and stroke, according to the National Kidney Foundation. They should limit their intake of potassium to 1,500 -2,000 mg per day.
If you have kidney disease, consult with your healthcare provider for guidance before adding juice to your diet.
Do you juice or make smoothies? What do you put in yours?
Let us know in the comments!
This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition