Juicing your fruits and vegetables may seem like a great way to get tons of nutrients. But is it the best way?
The juice from fruits and vegetables does contain most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help you stay healthy and can reduce your cancer risk. But juicing also removes the healthy fiber. And juice is the most calorie-dense part of plant foods. So is juicing good for you?
“If you want to get the full benefits of fruits and vegetables, your healthiest option is to eat them in their whole state,” says Erma Levy, research dietitian in Behavioral Science at MD Anderson Cancer Center. However, juicing can be a healthy choice, if done right.
Levy offers tips on how to juice the healthy way.
Juicing can be a good way to get the nutrients and phytochemicals your body needs to help lower your cancer risks. But you have to be mindful about what you put in your drink, or you’ll create a beverage loaded with extra calories. And, juicing extracts the most calorie-dense part of fruits and vegetables: the juice. All those extra calories can ultimately lead to weight gain.
The calories in a juice drink can range from 100 to 800, depending on the type of fruits and vegetables you add and the amounts. And, while fruits may taste better, they also may have more calories than vegetables. So, opt for a 1:1 ratio to ensure that you have a good blend of vitamins and minerals.
Adding a protein-packed ingredient, like skim milk, peanut butter, flaxseed, or plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, gives your drink more texture and thickness, similar to a smoothie. And, it may help prevent muscle mass loss. But, protein also adds more calories. So, factor this into your daily caloric intake.
Lastly, keep the portion size of your drink to one cup to keep calories in check.
Choose your produce wisely
Pick a colorful variety of non-starchy fruits and vegetables that are nutrient-dense, such as:
- Dark green leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach
- Tropical produce, like mango, papaya and kiwi
Even if you juice, aim to eat at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and fruits every day to reduce your risk of certain cancers, including stomach, lung, colorectal and prostate cancers. It’s still important to add vegetables and fruits to your meals and snacks.
Keep the pulp
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, but it’s all in the pulp and skin. And juicing removes both. Dietary fiber has a host of health benefits, so Levy suggests you add the pulp back into your diet to get the health benefits.
“Fiber keeps you full longer and helps you maintain a healthy weight,” Levy says. It can also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
Not a fan of pulpy juice? Take the pulp from the juicer and add it in your soup, sauce or other dishes. Eating beans and foods rich in whole grains also adds essential plant-based fiber to your diet.
Drink your juice right away
“As your juice sits, it loses antioxidants that prevent contamination,” Levy says. These antioxidants also protect your cells from damage that may cause cancer.
If you can’t drink your juice right away, refrigerate or freeze it. It should save in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Just make sure to check it before drinking. If your juice no longer looks fresh or the mixture has separated, it may be teeming with harmful bacteria.
If you want to get the full benefits of fruits and vegetables, your healthiest option is to eat them in their whole state.
Juicers are optional
Juicers separate the pulp from the juice in fruits and vegetables. And they can be expensive.
If you want a cheaper option, use a blender. Your blender won’t remove the pulp – so you’ll get all that great fiber. You can always add water if your mixture becomes too thick.
“Whether you choose to use a juicer or blender, make sure you thoroughly clean your equipment,” Levy says. A dirty machine can become a haven for bad bacteria.
Keep eating fruits and veggies
Remember, juicing shouldn’t be used as a meal replacement, cleanse or detox. Eating whole vegetables and fruits is the healthier option.
When you eat vegetables and fruits in their natural state, your body expends energy by processing the food. “This burns calories, and keeps your digestive system and gastrointestinal tract healthy,” Levy says.
That said, if you juice, follow our expert tips you can get the health benefits from juice your body needs to reduce your cancer risk.