Ask Coach Nicole: What's All This I Hear About Juicing?
Q: I know that drinking vegetable juice is supposed to be really good for me, but I don’t know why. And does it taste bad? Please advise!
You are 100% correct! Drinking green vegetable juice IS really good for you - and I will totally tell you why.
Let’s break it down for just a second - and clear something up right away: Juicing your vegetables is not necessarily ‘better’ than just plain eating your vegetables - nor is it meant to be a substitute. Juicing is just a DIFFERENT way to access some of the countless benefits of vegetables. In a perfect world, we would all eat AND juice our veggies every day. At least, that’s my version of a perfect world!
When you EAT vegetables in their whole form, you not only reap the benefits of the nutrients they contain, but you also get all the FIBER. Fiber is super-good for you and very important for your digestive health.
When you JUICE a vegetable, you get all of its veggie goodness in a concentrated liquid form - but you don’t get any of the fiber.
Remember, though - fiber is good for you!
So why would you want to ingest vegetables without their beneficial fiber??
Here’s why: As an example - you could juice three full heads of kale and come away with only about an 8oz glass of kale ‘juice’ - maybe. This 8oz would be LOADED with calcium and iron and chlorophyll and plant-y goodness. It would be a completely amazing nutritional nectar.
But if I asked you to sit down to a meal and EAT three heads of kale in one shot……that would be a rough meal, even for the most ardent kale-lover. You just can’t eat that much - because all the fiber would fill you up pretty quickly.
So, juicing is a way to get a rapid infusion of nutrients in a way that would be difficult to do by eating the equivalent amount of vegetables.
One other point -
When you juice your vegetables, you get the benefit of all their nutrients, in addition to a blast of the plant’s oxygenating cholorophyll. Chlorophyll helps build your blood, meaning that more oxygen can get into your cells. See, your cells LOVE oxygen - and disease pathogens haaaaate oxygen - so the more oxygen you can bring into your cells, the more protection you have against disease. This makes you really awesome.
So it’s not an either/or. Juicing is better for some purposes, and eating the whole vegetable is better in other situations. I say, do ‘em both. Often!
As for the taste, I am biased, because I think green juice is like a glorious nectar. I can admit, though, that it took a teensy bit of getting used to. Though it’s possible that the most hardcore raw vegan juicers would drink straight green juice with nothing added…I personally like to add a bit of lemon and green apple to cut the bitterness.
Wheatgrass is another story. Wheatgrass, in my opinion, is a rough ride no matter how long you’ve been drinking it. That said, it is one of the best things you could possibly drink, from a health perspective. If you really want to do something great for your insides, try incorporating a shot of wheatgrass into your life every now and then. It is crazy-good for you.
Tips for beginner juicers
1. Make It A Gift.
Incorporating a little fresh green vegetable juice into your life is an incredible thing to do for yourself - no question. Look on it as a gift to yourself - a fun adventure - and come at it with a spirit of love for yourself and your body.
2. Juicing Is Not Blending.
Think this through for a second. What happens if you put lettuce in a blender? It would get whizzed around and all shmushed up - and you would have, quite literally, blended-up lettuce. Blended-up lettuce is not juice. It’s lettuce puree. It still has all the fiber - and I’m not drinkin’ it!
A good way to keep this straight is to recognize that everything you put IN to a blender, is also what comes OUT of a blender. Not so, with a proper juicer. The juicer will, quite literally, JUICE the lettuce - extracting the liquid and leaving behind all the fibrous material from the plant. What you put IN to a juicer is different than what ends up coming OUT of it. Blending is the best choice for smoothies and shakes and other concoctions where you want all parts of your ingredients to…..blend.
3. Start Simple.
You can walk into almost any health food store or juice bar and ask for a ‘green juice’ - and they will know what you’re talking about. Sometimes they have a pre-set recipe for what they use in their green drinks. Other times, they will ask you what you want. You can leave it up to them to choose for you if you’re just starting out - or you can be very particular. It’s usually a somewhat standard addition - but just be sure, in the beginning, that you ask them to add some lemon and green apple to your green drink so that you don’t completely freak out that you’re drinking swiss chard. Lemon and apple really turn any green drink into a sassy lemonade-esque sort of beverage - and it’s delicious.
For what it’s worth, my favorite combination for a green drink is cucumber, celery, kale, broccoli stems, lemon, lime, and green apple. YUM.