As gardeners, we often find ourselves facing a seemingly-insurmountable pile of fresh produce during the harvest season. Many see juicing the vegetables as a preferable alternative to cramming a freezer full of them, or worse, watching them go to waste. And why not? The gardener gets a tasty beverage out of the deal, and the leftover pulp can be used in the kitchen, as livestock feed or as organic matter for a compost pile or worm bin.
Everybody wins, right? Well, not necessarily.
Despite its convenient nature and seemingly-healthful end product, juicing isn’t for everyone. Before investing in an expensive pulverizing machine,it is important to weigh the pros and cons of juicing to ensure that it is a good choice for your specific health and dietary needs.
For home gardeners with an abundance of fresh veggies and a desire to increase their vegetable consumption, juicing can be an excellent way to enjoy the harvest. A mountain of kale can be juiced down to a manageable serving, and the pulp is ideal to feed to your worm or breakdown into compost.
Less than one third of American adults eat the recommended nine servings of vegetables per day, and supplementing your diet with fresh juiced vegetables can help you to get closer to that goal. Most people know vegetables are replete with health-promoting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. By making juice an addition to your diet, you are increasing your intake of those healthful elements.
While juicing can be a convenient and efficient way to consume vegetables, there are some limits to the nutritional value of the end result. Although it’s true that the majority of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants present in the whole plant make the jump to juice, pulverizing them does sacrifice fiber — meaning the naturally-occurring sugars have a more pronounced impact on blood sugar.
Regularly spiking blood sugar has been linked to a number of chronic health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It also makes your body more likely to store additional fat, so if you’re someone who’s concerned about managing your weight, juicing may not be the best way to go about improving your overall diet.
At the end of the day, the decision about whether or not to consume vegetable juice is a personal one that must be weighed by the individual making the choice, as well as any health care providers they may be seeing.
Although there are lots of opinions that come down on either side of this debate, there’s one thing nearly everyone agrees on: You shouldn’t rely on juice as your only source of vegetables. Even the most ardent juicing enthusiasts agree that consuming whole foods is an essential part of a healthful lifestyle, so a safe bet is to think of juicing as a supplement to an already-healthy and vegetable-rich diet.
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