Juicing: Health or Hype?

28 Jun

Juicing: Health or Hype?

Juicing is hot…but it certainly isn’t a new concept.

The juicing craze took off in the US in the 1970s, waxed and waned over the years, and came back with a vengeance after the release of the pro-juicing 2010 documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” (a fantastic movie to catch if you have not already seen it).

People ask about juicing all the time, “Is juicing good for me?”

Well, it certainly isn’t bad for you – but it also isn’t any better for you than eating intact fruits or vegetables.

My recommendation to most patients and clients is, “Eat your fruit, don’t drink it.” But that’s not to say you can’t enjoy a healthy fruit or vegetable juice every now and then.

From a fiber standpoint, blending your juice is preferred over using juice extractors. With juicers you end up throwing the pulp out, and the pulp is where the majority of your fiber lies. With blending, you blend the entire, intact fruit (with some peels and cores excluded), but you retain more of the fiber.

It is estimated that only 11% of Americans eat the amount of fruits andĀ  vegetables they need per day, so juicing or blending may be a healthy addition for those individuals.

There are some drawbacks to juicing for certain populations:

  • If you take an anti-coagulation medication like Coumadin, adding large amounts of Vitamin K-containing dark green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach could interfere with the medication’s mechanism
  • If you have diabetes, relying on vegetable juices that may be too low in carbohydrate for you can lead to hypoglycemia, whereas fruit juices that can be very high in concentrated fruit sugars, may lead to hyperglycemia
  • If you are watching your weight, keep in mind that the calories from fruit juices add up quickly: aim for a 50-50 blend of fruit and vegetable to thin out the calorie load

When it comes to juicing, never overlook the opportunity to add in healthy fats and protein. I like to use nonfat, plain Greek yogurt and avocados as nutrient boosts in my juices.

Here is one of my favorite recipes, an Avocado and Melon Breakfast Smoothie, developed by the California Avocado Commission and Produce forĀ  Better Health Foundation. It combines fresh fruit, healthy fats, and lean protein in a delicious and portable breakfast meal!

Avocado and Melon Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 ripe, fresh California Avocado
  • 1 cup honeydew melon chunks (about 1 slice)
  • Juice from 1/2 lime (1 1/2 tsp lime juice)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) milk, fat-free
  • 1 cup fat-free yogurt, plain
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or white grape juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Instructions

  • Cut avocado in half, remove pit
  • Scoop out flesh, place in blender
  • Add remaining ingredients; blend well.

Serve cold. Holds well in the refrigerator up to 24 hours. If made ahead, stir gently before pouring into glasses.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 320, Total Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 1.5g, Protein: 13g, Carbohydrates: 46g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Sodium: 170mg

To learn more about other ways to boost the nutrient content of your juices, check out my recent news segment “Juicing: Health or Hype?”

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