Whether you were more of an orange or apple kid, chances are juice has been a part of your diet since you were old enough to drink from a cup. As an adult, fruit juice is still undeniably delicious and makes a great mixer for brunch cocktails. But, it can also send our blood sugar into a tailspin. For this reason, we recommend drinking fruit juice in moderation on the 21-Day Clean Program. Green juice made from vegetables, on the other hand, offers many health benefits and can make a healthy addition to your diet both on and off the cleanse.
Getting your daily dose of green
We know eating fruits and vegetables is important for maintaining overall health. Yet, only 1 in 10 adults eat the recommended servings of fruits and veggies each day, putting the remaining 90 percent at risk for health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. While it’s better to eat vegetables than drink them, it’s better to drink vegetables than to not have any at all. For those of us who still wince at a plate of broccoli or can’t get on board with kale salad, juice offers a viable option for getting our greens.
What is green juice, exactly? It’s not fruit juice with a small handful of kale. Green juice should get most of its color from vegetables to offer the biggest health benefit. Juicing extracts the natural liquid from vegetables and separates out the fibrous pulp. Without fiber to slow down digestion, all of the nutrients and antioxidants from green juice go directly into the bloodstream. Since vegetables are low in sugar, this isn’t a problem. In fact, this rush can be helpful in providing a quick boost of energy or replenishing nutrients if you aren’t feeling well.
What about smoothies?
Juices and smoothies are both fantastic ways to load up on vitamins and nutrients; there’s no need to choose one over the other. We love smoothies and have incorporated them into the 21-Day Clean Program from the very beginning. Like juice, drinking a smoothie is a simple way to get a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants all in one glass.
Here’s where they differ: since no pulp is discarded, smoothies retain all of the insoluble fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber slows down our digestion, keeping us full longer and allowing for a more sustained energy release. This makes smoothies great for curbing our appetite and balancing our blood sugar - especially on the cleanse. Try mixing it up and drink both juices and smoothies to see how each impacts your energy and hunger levels.
The benefits of drinking green juice
There are so many benefits to drinking green juice. On a basic level, it ups our intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which our bodies need for optimal functioning. Here are a few specific ways of drinking our greens can improve our overall health and wellbeing.
1) It can lower our risk for diabetes. One study showed that consuming vegetables, particularly leafy green ones, is associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, drinking fruit juice, with its high sugar content and lack of fiber, may increase the risk for diabetes in women.
2) It can improve our cholesterol. In another study, 32 men with high cholesterol were given a five-ounce cup of kale juice to drink daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the subjects’ LDL cholesterol had decreased by 10 percent, lowering their risk for heart disease.
3) It can improve our digestion. Green juice has been shown to stimulate the production of stomach acid, which is essential for breaking down food. In can also ease uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, and bloating.
4) It can boost our energy. Because the nutrients in the juice aren’t attached to fiber, they immediately hit our bloodstream to provide a burst of energy. Reaching for green juice can help us shake that post-lunch sluggish feeling without relying on coffee or sweets.
5) It helps detox the liver. In addition to giving leafy green vegetables their signature color, chlorophyll is what plants use to convert sunlight into energy. In people, chlorophyll leaches toxins out of the bloodstream and neutralizes heavy metals to protect the liver.
6) It can improve our skin. Not only does green juice help hydrate the skin, but its high concentration of nutrients and antioxidants can also reduce inflammation and swelling associated with acne. Green vegetables also protect the skin from sun damage and environmental toxins help keep it looking youthful.
So, do we need green juice in our diets? Not necessarily. But we do need several servings of vegetables every day, and drinking green juice can be an excellent way to add more vegetables to your whole foods diet.
Written by Kate Kasbee
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