Fresh vegetable juice is a healthy option for meeting your daily vegetable requirement. When you juice raw vegetables, you gain almost all of their natural nutrients, including antioxidant phytochemicals. You can also control the ingredients, thus avoiding any extra sweeteners or additives found in commercial vegetable juices. However, juice has one disadvantage: It does not provide the fiber you’ll get from whole vegetables.
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Boost Vegetable Intake
Most Americans eat 1.6 cups of vegetables daily, according to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010,” which falls short of the recommended daily veggie intake of 2.5 to 3 cups. You can fill that gap by juicing fresh vegetable because you can create one drink that contains the nutrients from more vegetables than you might typically eat fresh or cooked. For example, it takes about 2 cups of packed spinach, one cucumber and a stalk of celery to extract 10 ounces of juice.
Juice extracted from raw veggies retains the plant’s beneficial vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. In fact, 1 cup of carrot juice contains most of the same nutrients as you’ll get from eating 5 cups of chopped carrots, according to the Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute. Vegetable juices are naturally low in calories and fat, yet they’re important sources of nutrients such as potassium, folate and vitamins A and C. In addition to maintaining normal metabolism and energy, these nutrients help lower blood pressure and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Lack of Fiber
When you put vegetables through an extractor, the machine separates the juice from the pulp, allowing the juice to flow out through a strainer that removes the pulp, which means your juice doesn’t contain the vegetable’s natural fiber. Fiber is an essential part of your daily diet because it keeps your bowels regular, lowers cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar. You can add ground flax or chia seeds to the juice for fiber. You could also recycle the extracted fiber, adding some back to the juice or using it in sauces, soups and meatloaf.
Fresh vegetables easily become contaminated with bacteria present in the soil or water. You can reduce the risk of contaminants making it into your homemade juice by choosing the freshest vegetables and refrigerating them as soon as you get home. Rinse vegetables under water, using a brush to remove dirt, and cut away the skin and bruised parts before juicing the vegetables. Homemade vegetable juice spoils quickly because it’s not pasteurized. If possible, juice only the amount you will consume right away or immediately store leftover juice in the refrigerator.
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Many Vegetables are Needed Daily or Weekly?
- Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute: Juicing Recipes
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Why is it Important to Eat Vegetables?
- University of California, Berkeley: Dietary Fiber
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices