Fresh fruit and vegetable juices almost seem too good to be true: they provide your body with a quick boost of nutrients, and they’re low-calorie, portable, and delicious. So, why do most nutritionists say, “No way!” to juices cleanses? Read on as Lisa Booth, 8fit nutritionist & Coach, debunks some common juice myths and shares her favorite nutrient-dense, low-calorie drink options.
What is fresh juice?
When people talk about juicing, they aren’t talking about the boxed apple juice or cartons of OJ you’ll find at the supermarket. Instead, fresh juice refers to the veggie-forward, often blended or bottled juices found at your local juicery or smoothie bar. The nutrients found in fresh juice are easily absorbed by the body and help improve everything from your skin to your body’s immune function. This fast-absorption is also a reason to avoid fruit-forward juices with high sugar content – fruit juices cause blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Choosing the best juice
The best choice if you’re drinking juice is fresh, cold-pressed and vegetable-based. Be wary of juice cocktail, “juice drink,” or juice-flavored beverages made with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavorings. Sometimes these options don’t even contain any fruit or vegetable juice.
When shopping, check food labels and ingredients lists. The best juices list vegetables as the primary ingredients. Vegetables tend to contain less sugar than fruits and do not drive your blood glucose to peak and valley.
The cost of “health” – juice verses whole produce
Over the past several years, the benefits of juicing and liquid diets have created a large market for the smoothie and juice industry, allowing juiceries to charge $12 per cup. Think of all of the whole fruits and vegetables you can buy with those 12 dollars. In fact, it could equate to a full week’s worth of produce if you shop smart.
It’s not just the cost that makes fresh or cold-pressed juice a less-than-ideal option for getting your daily fruits & veggies. Juicing might make nutrients more bioavailable, but you won’t feel as full as you would eating the whole versions of your favorite fruits and vegetables. This is because juices squeezes all of the liquid out of produce and strips away the fiber-filled flesh.
Why does this matter? Fiber doesn’t just keep us full, it’s essential for gut health. Fiber acts like a street sweeper for the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, removing bile acids and cholesterol as it passes through the intestines. As it sweeps, fiber also feeds the healthy bacteria in our gut.
Enjoy fresh juice, but make sure you do so with a meal consisting of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. These nutrients will help your body balance blood sugar levels and properly absorb nutrients from the juice.
Healthy drinks from 8fit
Here at 8fit, our philosophy is to create recipes with a healthy balance of macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein). Below are some drink ideas from the 8fit recipe book. Each one contains whole produce, not just the juice.
Greek yogurt: Protein found in Greek yogurt helps stabilize blood sugar and energy levels.
Walnuts: Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which help improve brain health and decrease inflammation.
Spinach: Spinach is a great green to add to smoothies and juices. It’s packed with vitamin C which improves immunity.
Green power smoothie
Soy yogurt and peas: The protein in this smoothie comes from soy yogurt and peas. Add both to stabilize blood sugar and energy levels.
Avocado: Avocado is packed with vitamin E. Adding avocado will help promote healthy skin and act as an antioxidant.
Garlic: This ingredient contains prebiotics which are essential for maintaining a healthy gut.
Lemon juice: Lemons are great for digestive health. They also include vitamin C which helps boost immunity.
Green ginger smoothie with egg on the side
Egg: The egg on the side provides a great protein boost.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil contains a healthy amount of fat, specifically medium chain triglycerides. This fat content helps support a healthy gut.
Cucumber: Cucumber is packed with B vitamins for energy maintenance and metabolism support.
Lemon and spinach smoothie
Peanut butter, milk, and yogurt: The protein in this smoothie comes from three different sources. Drink up to stabilize blood sugar and energy levels
Lemon: Lemon adds great flavor and vitamin C to this smoothie.
Spinach: Spinach is a great source of vitamins K and A which support blood, bone and vision health.