Juices and smoothies have been all the rage in the past few years. If were not popping into the latest juice bar for a concoction boasting all manner of healthy ingredients we’re making our own at home.
It seems that barely a day goes by without another juice detox, diet or cleanse regime emerging. However, more recently there has been a growing juicing and smoothie backlash, with experts warning about sugar content and saying that these drinks may not be all that they are promoted to be. It is therefore important to understand the juicing minefield to ensure that you get the benefits of this latest health regime without it having negative consequences. Registered dietician Felicity Lyons and Jason Vale author of the Juice Master books give a good guide to healthy juicing.
Tip 1 – Home Made is Better than Shop Bought Think of it like cooking – making everything from scratch is better. When you juice yourself you are in control of the ingredients. The problem with shop bought smoothies is that they will have been through some sort of manufacturing process which ultimately loses some of its goodness and many of them also contain high levels of sugar. Juicing retains more than 90 per cent of the nutrients found in fruit and vegetables. It is a little time consuming but worth it! If you make juice at home it’s best drunk immediately, or within 2 days of stored.
Tip 2 – Buy the right equipment The juicing craze has spawned a huge array of equipment but there is no need to spend a fortune. There are 2 main types of juicer – fast and slow. Fast juicers (also known as centrifugal) are the most common and cheaper. Typically they have a fast spinning blade that spins against a mesh filter, separating juice from flesh via centrifugal force. They used to cost a fortune but not anymore – starting from £40 there is no need to spend more than £100. That may sound pricey but it’s a small investment in your health.
Slow juicers (also known as masticating) extract juice by crushing and then pressing fruit and vegetables for the highest yield – a wide funnel is best. Because they don’t produce as much heat, it is claimed they keep more nutrients intact and Jason believes they make a better juice.
Whichever you buy make sure you clean the machine before enjoying the juice!
Staple ingredients should be
After that almost anything goes and it’s your chance to add lots of green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli and spinach. Vegetables are bursting with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which protect against cancer. Their high water content is also great for cleansing the body. Kale has become the pin-up veg of the green juice and smoothie as it has high levels of many vitamins and minerals. Watercress is another great ingredient which many people overlook. If you are feeling adventurous inject some zing with ingredients such as ginger, lime, turmeric, mint and basil.
Tip 4 – The Sugar debate The backlash around juicing revolves around the high sugar content found in certain fruits which can damage teeth and send calories soaring.
Although packed with nutrients, fruits contain natural sugar. An orange contains the equivalent of five lumps of sugar and because you tend to eat more fruit through juicing than you would eat whole calories stack up.
The rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule. That is the percentage of vegetables to fruit.
Tip 5 – Fad juicing diets Any type of juicing should not become an obsession. If you end up substituting juices for whole fruit and vegetables that you would normally eat at mealtimes then you will miss out. Juicing removes most of the fibre in foods – about 75 percent is ejected into the pulp container – but vegetable pulp can be used to thicken stews, soups and gravy so none of that goodness is wasted. Felicity says that it is important that juicing does not replace eating whole fruit and vegetables, rather juicing should be seen as a way of getting extra portions into our diet to help us achieve the 5 portion a day rule of thumb!