Juicing For Beginngers
I got into juicing early last year when I did fruits and vegetables only diet; I enjoyed it for the first few weeks but quickly fell off the wagon and the juicer sat next to my waffle maker accumulating dust. At my new place, I have purposely placed the juicer at an accessible cabinet because I want to start juicing again on a regular basis. Juicing has taken the health world by a storm as it it easy to gulp fruits/veggies by glassful and shower our bodies with concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Additionally, juices are naturally low is sodium, fats, cholesterol, and added sugar. While juicing a great way to introduce fruits and veggies into our diet, it does have its drawbacks (more on this later) so before you dive into this trendy juicing business, I want to share my two cents on the basics of juicing and talk about what juicer to buy? which produce works best? does it stand up to its health claims, or is it just a hype?
If you are a juicing newbie, don't feel like you need to buy a juicer. I would start out with a blender, a bowl and a fine mesh strainer. Read this article and also Parita's experience on juicing without a juicer. Basically, there are mainly two basic types of juicer (unless you are talking about the manual juicer or triturating - champion of all juicers) that can be used at home.
Centrifugal Juice Extractors: This is the common type of juicer which utilizes a fast-spinning metal blade that spins against a mesh filter and separates juice from flesh via centrifugal force. The juice and pulp are then separated into different containers. One of the drawbacks of this juicer is that the fast-spinning metal blade generates heat, which destroys some of the enzymes and oxidizes nutrients in the fruits and vegetables producing less nutritious juice than a cold-press juicer. This is comparatively inexpensive (I have this one) so it's a good buy for beginners if you want to try it out without breaking a bank. You can't make green juice and nut-milk in this juicer so if you are into that, I suggest you look into masticating juicers (cold press juicers).
Masticating Juicers (cold press juicers): This type of juicers run at a very slow speed by first crushing then pressing fruits and vegetables in order to extract most nutrients from the produce. Since they don't produce as much heat, nutrients are better preserved in this type of juicer and it works really well for green juices and nut milk.It also makes very little noise but comes at a higher price tag compared to the centrifugal juice extractors. If you are serious about juicing and want to spend a little bit more money- I suggest you look into this kind (I wish I had gotten this one in the first place now; I WANT GREEN JUICES).
Now that you've picked your juicer, let's talk about some fruits and vegetables that beginners should start with. You can pretty much juice all fruits and vegetables except for things like bananas, avocados, eggplants but as a beginner, I'd start with mild tasting produce (organic if possible) such as celery, apples, carrots, and cucumber. You can gradually add greens and get adventurous with things like beets, green leafy veggies, radishes but always use more veggies than fruit in order to avoid rapid spike in blood sugar. I use fruits (apples are my favorite) for sweetness but rely mostly on high water content vegetables such as celery and cucumber. You can also elevate the flavor and nutritional profile of your juice by adding different herbs such as mint, parsley, and ginger roots.
Is blending and juicing the same? Unlike juices, blending (such as smoothies) consist of the entire fruits/vegetable including its skin which keeps fiber intact. Due to the absence of fiber in juicing, our body is able to absorb the the nutrients more readily and it is beneficial especially if you have a sensitive gut. Blending on the other hand has fiber, which keeps you full longer. Bottom line: If done correctly, both juicing and blending can beneficial but in different ways.
Can I store the juice? It is recommended that you consume the fresh juice immediately when it is pressed to get the most of the nutrients/enzymes however, I have read that it also depends on the juicer you have; centrifugal - drink fresh, masticating - one day, trituration - three days.
Does juicing live up to its health benefits? There are hundreds of health claims on the benefits of juicing such as detoxing, weight loss, clear skin, more energy etc but there is no sound scientific evidence that shows that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself. Personally, I enjoy juicing as a refreshing beverage as it makes me feel healthy/energized overall, maybe its all psychological but other than that, I haven't felt any other changes. My advice: Eat your fruits/vegetables whole when possible. But if you don't enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables, juicing may be a fun way to add them to your diet or to try fruits and vegetables you normally wouldn't eat. Also, be mindful that juicing lacks other essentials nutrients such as protein, fiber, fats so make sure you are get those through other food sources. (think of your juice as a supplement and not a meal replacement).
It is recommended that you drink fresh juice on an empty stomach for better absorption of nutrients. Wait at least two hours after a meal to drink a fresh juice and make sure you wait 20 minutes after drinking the juice before you eat something.
Adding lemon/limes to juices can help prevent oxidation. Additionally, if storing your juice do so in a glass container (add additional lemon slices if you'd like) and fill it to the brim so that there is very little oxygen to oxidize the juice.
Cleaning your juicer: If you own a juicer, you probably know the hassle of cleaning it. This is a number reason why I don't juice often but lately I have been cleaning my juicer as I am drinking my fresh juice as opposed to letting it sit on the counter top and scrubbing it later (DON'T DO THAT). Even if you don't have time to clean right away, at least take it apart and let it soak in the sink.
I hope I have covered the basics to get you guys started on juicing. Let me know if I missed something and I'd love some recommendations on mastication juicer.
What's your favorite juice combo?
** Juicer pictures are from Google Images and I am simply using them to show different types of juicers. I have a GE one that I use at home but I do not have any affiliation with of those companies.