Interestingly enough, a lot of people debate juicing in the real food world. There are those who are firmly in the “juice is good” camp, and those who are firmly in the “juice is bad” camp. I don’t think it’s that simple.
I want to take a look at some of the arguments on each side…and then I’ll tell you what I do.
Juicing is Good
So, there’s the ‘juice is good’ camp. Why is it considered good sometimes?
Juice, specifically freshly-made juice from whole (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables, is filled with vitamins and minerals plus living enzymes that are beneficial to health. It’s like a super-multi-vitamin all at once!
For many, it’s hard to get enough fruits and vegetables and their accompanying nutrients in their diet, and juicing is a way to do it. It’s also a way for many to get special herbs in their diets in greater quantities, like ginger, parsley, cilantro, and others.
It’s important that the juice be freshly-made — that is, within the last 30 minutes. The quality of the enzymes starts to degrade in a very short amount of time (oxygen has that effect). So, this is specifically about those juices, and never about bottled, pasteurized juice, which most everyone agrees is not very healthy.
Juicing is Bad
But that’s not the whole story.
Some people say that juicing really isn’t good for you. Their argument has two main points. First, that juice isn’t real a “whole food” — it’s been stripped of its fiber. With certain juices, especially fruits, this means the sugar content is high, and they can negatively affect your blood sugar. Second, that nobody would really eat 10 or 15 carrots in a sitting, and artificially inflating our consumption of produce really isn’t a good idea.
There’s something to be said for that first point, especially when juicing only fruits. Too much sugar is definitely not beneficial to health, whether refined or natural. Regularly juicing lots of sweet fruits may be more damaging to health than it is beneficial.
What To Do About Juicing
I choose to juice — sometimes.
It’s true that we would not normally eat such large quantities of produce all at once, because of the fiber. But, if the choice is between drinking fresh juice, or taking a synthetic multivitamin, I will take the fresh juice! It has all the vitamin and mineral benefits, and all the natural enzymes!
Pineapples, for example, contain large amounts of the enzyme bromelain. This has potent anti-cancer effects. It’s found throughout the fruit, but is most concentrated in the core. I’m not going to eat the core, but I can juice it! And I do.
I try to always mix a combination of fruits and vegetables. Fruits for their own vitamins and minerals as well as taste; vegetables to cut the sugar and add more nutrition. One of my favorite combinations is apple, kale, parsley, lemon, and ginger. It’s a really delicious mix! A little sweet and a little spicy. I tend to go pretty heavy on the kale, using a whole bunch with 2 – 3 apples, 1 lemon, 1 small bunch parsley, and a 1″ piece of ginger.
However, I also eat a lot of smoothies, which contain the whole fruits. I probably do more smoothies than juices, personally. (Current favorite smoothie is cherry mango.)
I believe that juicing is good, in moderation, with a blend of fruits and vegetables. It should be varied with other methods of consuming fruits and veggies, like smoothies, salads, soups, etc.
There’s no need to be an extremist. Fresh juice is a whole food, as much as anything else we “process” in our own kitchens. Good to include as part of a healthy diet!