Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection, injury or irritation. It involves immune cells, blood vessels and molecular messengers. The purpose of inflammation is to heal the body and protect it from harm. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and autoimmune disorders.
Many people try to reduce inflammation through diet by eating more anti-inflammatory foods. Green juice is one option that has become very popular. But can gulping down vegetables in liquid form really put out the fire of inflammation?
What is green juice?
Green juice is made by blending or juicing fresh greens and vegetables. Common ingredients include:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
Some green juices also contain superfoods like wheatgrass, spirulina or chlorella. The exact mix depends on the recipe. But the main idea is packing a lot of vegetables, especially leafy greens, into one concentrated and easy-to-consume drink.
How green juice could reduce inflammation
There are several ways green juice may help fight inflammation:
High antioxidant content
Many of the vegetables found in green juice are excellent sources of antioxidants. These include beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and manganese.
Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells. Research shows diets high in antioxidants are associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) (1).
In addition to antioxidants, green juice often contains many anti-inflammatory nutrients like (2):
- Vitamin K: Found in leafy greens like kale and spinach. May suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines.
- Magnesium: Found in spinach and Swiss chard. Deficiency is linked to higher CRP.
- Folate: Found in parsley and collard greens. Helps lower homocysteine, high levels of which are tied to inflammation.
- Vitamin C: Found in many vegetables. Lowers CRP and helps recycle antioxidants.
- Flavonoids: Found in celery. Reduce inflammatory compounds like nitric oxide.
Increased vegetable intake
Green juice provides an easy way to get more vegetables in your diet. Many studies show that eating more veggies reduces inflammation (3).
One study gave overweight people increased fruits and vegetables. CRP decreased by over 15% compared to those who didn’t change their diet (4).
The fiber and polyphenols naturally found in plants appear particularly beneficial for lowering inflammatory markers (5).
Some green juices also contain probiotic-rich ingredients like apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut juice or kimchi.
Probiotics provide healthy bacteria to your gut. Imbalances in gut bacteria are linked to inflammation and disease (6).
In one study, people who drank probiotic milk for 5 weeks had lower CRP than those who drank plain milk (7).
Green juice is rich in chlorophyll from dark leafy greens. Chlorophyll gives plants their green color. It’s also thought to alkalize the body and balance inflammatory pH levels.
However, more research is needed as evidence on chlorophyll and inflammation is limited.
Potential drawbacks of green juice
Despite the potential anti-inflammatory benefits, there are some drawbacks to green juicing:
Lower fiber content
Blending concentrates the nutrients of vegetables into an easy-to-consume drink. But this process also removes the fiber.
Fiber has important anti-inflammatory effects in the gut. It helps nourish healthy bacteria and eases constipation. Constipation causes gut inflammation.
To get fiber, it’s best to consume vegetables in their whole form or make juice with a juicer that keeps pulp.
Some nutrients like vitamin C are lost through heat and oxidation during blending. Drinking juice right away minimizes losses.
Juice recipes that add carrots or fruits like apples and pineapples can hike up the sugar content. High sugar diets are linked to obesity and inflammation.
To avoid spikes in blood sugar, pair green juices rich in fruit/carrots with protein or healthy fats like nut butter.
Possible pesticide exposure
Unless organic, greens may contain traces of pesticides that are toxic and inflammatory.
How green juice stacks up against whole vegetables
Overall, both whole vegetables and green juice have anti-inflammatory benefits. Here’s how they compare:
|Vitamins and minerals
|High when fresh
As you can see, both whole vegetables and green juice have unique benefits. The vegetables in green juice are absorbed rapidly for quick anti-inflammatory effects. But they lack the fiber of whole vegetables.
For these reasons, it’s ideal to get a mix of green juice and whole vegetables. This maximizes both fiber intake and quick absorption of antioxidants.
Tips for drinking green juice
Here are some tips to get the most anti-inflammatory benefits from green juice:
Vary the vegetables you put in your green juice to get a diverse range of nutrients. Rotate more bitter greens like kale and collard greens with sweeter greens like romaine and butter lettuce.
Add healthy fats
Pair green juice with a source of healthy fats like avocado, nut butter, olive oil or full-fat coconut milk. This helps absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin K.
Avoid added sugars
Keep fruit content low to prevent blood sugar spikes. Avoid added sugars from agave, honey or cane juice.
Use organic produce
When possible, choose organic vegetables to minimize pesticide intake and avoid GMOs.
Add anti-inflammatory spices
Boost the anti-inflammatory power of your juice with spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, ginger or black pepper.
Add collagen powder to provide the amino acids proline and glycine that are vital for reducing inflammation.
Consume green juice right after making it. This preserves heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C.
Pair with protein
Add plant-based protein like hemp, pea or sprouted brown rice to balance blood sugar effects and supply amino acids to help heal the gut.
Try a gut-healing addition
For gut anti-inflammatory effects, try a scoop of L-glutamine or aloe vera juice.
The bottom line
Consuming nutrient-packed green juice is an excellent way to flood your body with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. However, blending vegetables into juice form reduces their fiber content.
For optimal inflammation reduction and health, it’s best to consume both green juice and whole vegetables. Pair green juice with healthy fats and proteins to maximize the anti-inflammatory benefits.
Always vary the vegetables you juice and choose organic when possible. Drink green juice immediately after making it for the highest nutrient levels.
By adding green juice to a diet rich in other anti-inflammatory foods, you can help keep chronic inflammation at bay.