Get your JUICE on
With just two ingredients-three medium-sized carrots and a Granny Smith apple-both a drink and a nutritious meal can be ready in minutes, with no cooking required.
Those ingredients used in a juicer will produce a 10-ounce meal of liquid nutrients that contains 200 calories, zero grams of fat, 49 grams carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein, according to Stanford’s University’s medical website.
Nutrients, including vitamin A and beta carotenes, are all in the juice and carrots contain poly-acetylene anti-oxidant falcarinol, which has been linked to the prevention of pre-cancerous cells in tumors, according to naturalnews.com.
It’s not a new trend but making fresh juice remains popular locally and beyond.
Those who enjoy it say it’s a great way to add variety to one’s daily fruit and vegetable intake and ultimately improve health. A website dedicated to healthy living, gethealthnaturally.com, says juicing was very popular in the 1970s and within the past year or so has made a resurgence back into the spotlight.
“I typically drink about three 8-ounce containers of juice a day,” said Elizabeth Fordyce, 74, a wellness consultant in Williamstown. “If I’m busy and don’t have time to eat, I’ll pick up a juice and skip a meal.”
It can serve as a supplement to someone’s normal diet or a meal replacement depending on their goals.
Juice fasting has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years, with many celebrities endorsing them.
Juice fasts involve ingesting no solid food and living off of juice for a predetermined period of time. The majority of time spent on these fasts range between three to seven days.
However, medical experts caution that while fruits and vegetables are rich in some nutrients they are deficient in others, including calcium and essential fatty acids. Long-term juice fasts are not advised and those fasting should consultant with their doctor.
The idea behind the juice cleanse is that by drinking the liquid nutrients, the body is able to avoid spending energy on digestion and process the benefits faster.
“The cells in our body are constantly dying and replacing themselves based on what we feed our body,” said Fordyce. “With no solid foods, the juice is able to go right through the stomach walls directly towards rebuilding healthy cells.”
BluePrintCleanse, a company that promotes a juicing fast plan, saw sales of around $10 million from 2007 to 2010, according to the Boston Globe.
The rise in popularity is in part because some believe juicing fasts can help reduce weight, provide mental clarity and even prevent diseases.
Despite the health benefits, some find juicing to be expensive and time consuming.
There are also supplement options, said Jack Moberg, of Marietta, who owns his own Juice Plus+ franchise. It offers a supplement developed to replace fresh juicing.
“The product was introduced in 1993 and offers the nutrients of 25 fresh fruits and vegetables in capsule or chewable form,” said Moberg. “The idea is to deliver the benefits of juicing without the cost or hassle.”
Moberg had a very brief experience with juicing before he bought his Juice Plus+ franchise 11 years ago.
“My wife and I borrowed our friends’ Champion juicer and used it three times,” he said. “It just wasn’t for us. I immediately cleaned the juicer and returned it to our friends.”
Moberg said the act of juicing took too much time and that problems can arise when vegetables or fruits are out of season.
“When a crop is out of season it can be hard to find fruits or vegetables that are in peak condition for use,” he said. “The more difficult it is to find quality vegetables and fruits, the more the price goes up.”
For those who are willing to deal with the price and work of juicing consistently, there are few things more beneficial, he said.
“I would never attempt to prevent someone from trying to juice,” said Moberg. “For those with a serious illness it can help get them well and save their life. But they have to stay very committed to the process.”
Fordyce has been sold on the power of juicing since she acquired a juicer one Christmas.
“In just three months I saw an amazing difference in the way I felt. I looked forward to getting up in the morning,” she said. “Juicing and cleaning up my diet has given me more energy and an enthusiasm for life.”
Juicers make it possible to extract the nutrients and liquid out of vegetables and fruits while separating the fiber.
Juicers can range anywhere from around $40 all the way up to several hundred dollars depending on the quality and how much a person is willing to spend.
Purchasing a cheap juicer can save a person money, but it can also reduce the amount of nutrients that person receives.
“Any juicer is better than no juicer,” said Fordyce. “Masticating juicers are a good choice because they don’t have a spinning basket that heat up the juice, destroying some of the enzymes and nutrients.”
Masticating juicers chew produce and can also make more juice out of the same amount of vegetables and fruit, while triturating juicers, the most expensive and efficient option, press produce and retain more nutrients, according to pbs.org.
Regardless of what juicer a consumer ends up purchasing, the key is to make sure that the juice remains fresh, experts say.
“I set up my juicer and make it first thing in the morning so it’s always fresh,” said Fordyce. “If you don’t have time for this, make sure that you keep the juice in containers that are refrigerated and covered.”
For those who don’t own a juicer, a blender can provide an alternative way to make juice despite several key differences.
“Instead of using a juicer I prefer to use my blender because when you simply juice you lose all the fiber,” said Megan Bumgardner, 21, an employee of Mother Earth Foods in Parkersburg.
The main difference between a blender and a juicer is that when a juicer extracts the nutrients and liquid from fruit or vegetables, it leaves behind all of the fiber.
For some dietitians this is a concern because fiber can be an important part of a healthy diet.
“Most Americans don’t get the amount of fiber they need in their daily diet,” said Jan Rary, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Marietta Memorial Hospital.
Rary said she fears that by juicing fruits and vegetables, that people are further depleting the amount of fiber in their diets.
“I believe it to be important to make sure that you find a way to make juice that retains the most amount of nutrients while preserving the fiber,” she said.
Fordyce admits a blender would work for making juice and keeping the fiber, but believes that using a juicer is more beneficial to getting the most energy and benefits possible.
“A juicer allows you to separate the fiber from the nutrients, allowing you to spend less energy on digestion,” she said. “By juicing you are going to be increasing your energy level greatly.”
Any vegetables and fruits can be juiced, however carrots, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and celery are among some of the most beneficial, according to doctoryourself.com.
As far as what makes the best juice, it’s really up to the individual what types of fruits and vegetables make a good combination, according to Bumgardner.
“Fruits that I like to use are blueberries and oranges,” she said. “As far as greens go spinach and kale are very beneficial and I personally don’t like carrots but I know many people do.”
Apples can be a good addition to any juice because they have a good flavor to balance out vegetables with a stronger taste. They can also help reduce cholesterol and aid in boosting the immune system.
A less common ingredient in juicing, the sweet potato, is very beneficial in helping reduce the affects of arthritis. It also serves as an excellent source of copper, fiber, potassium, iron and vitamins like C or B6, according to all-about-juicing.com.
The website also lists cabbage as a food that can provide a number of benefits when juicing. It can help prevent ulcers and maintain a stable metabolism.
One of the most popular foods to juice, the carrot, provides a number of health benefits with a very sweet flavor. Carrots are particularly popular because they help offset the bitter or strong taste of some of the green vegetables used when juicing. The beta carotene in them is beneficial for eyesight, healthy skin,and boosting the immune system.
Bumgardner does caution people that fruits and carrots have a higher sugar content than other vegetables and that including too much in a diet isn’t a good thing.
“You want to be careful not to get too crazy with the amount of fruit used when making juice because even though it’s a natural sugar, it can still be bad for you in large amounts,” she said.
For Fordyce juicing and a healthy diet is the key for people to feel better mentally and physically.
“People don’t realize that the way they feel isn’t normal, they don’t realize how good they can actually feel,” she said. “It can have a huge impact on your emotional state as well as your health.”
Despite her limited experience with juicing, Rary said she supports the practice, if done properly.
“If it helps people include more fruits and vegetables into their diet then it’s a very positive thing,” said Rary. “The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the more it will help increase your overall level of health.”