Juicing fruits and vegetables is a great way to get an extra serving of produce into your diet. Fresh juices made at home can provide a concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, some people worry that juicing results in a loss of beneficial nutrients. This article will explore how you can maximize nutrient retention when making homemade juices.
Why Do Nutrients Get Lost During Juicing?
When you juice fruits and vegetables, the produce is first chopped and then pressed or spun at high speeds to separate the liquid from the pulp. This separation of the produce into juice and pulp is what can result in some nutrient loss.
Here are the main reasons nutrients can be diminished through juicing:
– Exposure to oxygen. Chopping and pressing produce ruptures cell walls, exposing nutrients to oxygen. This can result in degradation of certain nutrients, especially antioxidants and vitamins C and E.
– Removal of fiber. The pulp contains insoluble fiber, which has benefits for digestion and heart health. Fiber also slows the absorption of sugars from fruit juices. Without this fiber, juices are absorbed more rapidly into the bloodstream.
– Heat from friction. The heat generated by high-speed juicers can destroy some heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C and certain enzymes.
– Nutrient oxidation. Nutrients like carotenoids can oxidize or degrade over time when exposed to light and air. Fresh juices have a shorter shelf life than whole produce.
Tips to Maximize Nutrient Retention When Juicing
While some nutrient loss is inevitable, there are ways to reduce degradation and preserve more of the beneficial vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables:
1. Juice produce soon after purchase
Fruits and vegetables begin losing nutrients from the moment they are harvested. To limit further nutrient degradation, juice produce as close to purchase as possible. Wash and prep veggies right when you get home from the store.
2. Juice produce with peels and skins when possible
Peels and skins contain valuable nutrients and fiber. Apple peels are a great source of polyphenols. Citrus peels contain antioxidant flavonoids. Leave edible skins on vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, beets and kale.
3. Use a slow juicer
Slow or cold-press juicers work by slowly crushing and then pressing produce. This generates less heat and preserves more nutrients compared to fast, high-speed juicers.
4. Juice vegetables before fruits
Juice sturdier vegetables first, then softer fruits. Following this order minimizes oxidation since vitamin C in fruit juice can help preserve nutrients in the vegetable juices.
5. Juice only what you’ll drink right away
Nutrient levels start decreasing as soon as juice is exposed to air. Only juice amounts that you and your family can drink within one day.
6. Add a squeeze of lemon juice
The vitamin C in lemon juice helps limit oxidation, especially of antioxidants. For every 3 cups of juice, add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
7. Store juice in airtight containers in the fridge
Preventing exposure to light and air will minimize nutrient degradation in stored juice. Fill containers to the very top to limit oxygen. Mason jars or opaque bottles work best.
8. Consider re-integrating some of the pulp
The pulp contains fiber and a small amount of nutrients. For a nutritional boost, stir a tablespoon or two of the freshly extracted pulp back into your glass of juice.
Best Fruits and Vegetables for Juicing
To maximize the nutrient content in homemade juices, choose fruits and vegetables that are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. The produce items below make excellent choices for juicing.
Leafy green vegetables
Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard and collards are packed with antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin C. They also provide magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium.
Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes contain vitamin C, folate, potassium and antioxidant bioflavonoids that support immunity and heart health.
Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and bok choy are great sources of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds with anti-cancer effects.
An excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidant flavonoids. Carrot juice is a classic for a reason.
Provides antioxidants like betalains and nitrates that support blood flow and blood pressure. Beets add a vibrant color and earthy flavor to juice blends.
Pomegranate juice has triple the antioxidants of green tea and double that of red wine. Also provides vitamin C, folate and potassium.
Adds a spicy kick along with anti-inflammatory compounds like gingerols. Helps reduce nausea and stimulates digestion.
High in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant quercetin. The sweetness balances more bitter green juices.
Nutrient Content in Common Vegetable and Fruit Juices
To compare the nutritional profiles, see the table below for key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants provided in a 1 cup serving of various vegetable and fruit juices:
|Juice||Vitamin C||Vitamin A||Vitamin K||Potassium||Magnesium||Antioxidants|
Include Pulp and Fiber in Your Diet
While juicing is a fast and convenient way to get your daily fruit and veggie servings, it shouldn’t completely replace eating whole produce with the skins and fibers intact.
Here are some tips to make sure you still get valuable dietary fiber as part of your healthy lifestyle:
– Alternate between juicing and eating whole fruits and vegetables throughout the week.
– Add a tablespoon or two of the pulp back into your juice for a fiber boost.
– Include good fiber sources like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains in meals and snacks.
– Enjoy smoothies made with whole fruits and vegetables, which retain more fiber compared to juices.
The Bottom Line
Juicing allows you to intake a wide variety of concentrated fruits and vegetables, providing a flood of beneficial vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. While some nutrient loss is inevitable through the juicing process, there are many steps you can take to preserve maximum nutrition. Drink your juices promptly, juice produce with skins and peels, add lemon juice to prevent oxidation, and incorporate the leftover pulp.
Juicing can be a healthy habit when combined with fiber-rich whole foods as part of an overall balanced diet. Take steps to make your homemade juices as nutritious as possible so your body gets the best benefits from all the natural goodness of fresh fruits and veggies.