You see the plethora of multi-colored bottles lining the refrigerated shelves at grocery stores. The beneficial claims scream out at you: “High Vitamin C!” or “Two full servings of fruit and vegetables per bottle!” You see veggie juices splashed across magazine ads and sprinkled in between your television shows touting health, cleansing, energy, and yes– deliciousness! So the question is, should you start drinking them?
Some people drink one or more a day as their way of making up for not having the time, motivation, or energy to prepare and eat the actual fruits and vegetables. In their minds, they check it off of their healthy to-do list and give themselves a pat on the back for swallowing sixteen ounces of straight sugar. Not only that, but there are also those small-printed words: “flash pasteurized” to contend with. What gives?
In a nut-shell, store bought veggie juices are not all created equal. If you’re drinking a veggie juice and think wow, that’s delicious! Or, I wish my vegetables tasted this good– then take a good, hard look at the ingredient list and chances are you’ll see more fruit than veggies listed– and most likely, the fruit will be listed first. Vegetables should not taste as sweet as fruit juices. Now, don’t get me wrong, some vegetables are more palatable than others due to a higher sugar content (hello carrots), but there is a big difference in taste between apple juice and kale juice, let me tell you!
To me, the best vegetable juice is one that is organic, made fresh in front of you in a cold-pressed fashion (to preserve more nutrients), with all veggies (or one with minimal fruit, like some lemon, or a green apple), and consumed right after juicing. If this is not doable for you and you want/need the next best thing, here are some things to look for when shopping at the grocery store.
Organic: Why waste your calories (and money) on drinking cancer-causing pesticides?
Cold-pressed: Cold-pressed preserves more nutrients than flash pasteurization, which kills off beneficial enzymes due to heat.
Vegetables: I know, I know, it seems like a no-brainer, but you’ve got to flip that bottle and read that label. 150 calories and 26 grams of sugar is ridiculous! Aim for 50 calories or less per serving, and as close to 5 grams of sugar (or less!) as possible. Look for more vegetables than fruit.
Expiration date: Since there should not be any preservatives, vegetable juices do not have long shelf lives, so make sure to pay close attention and respect the “use by” date– trust me on this one!
So back to the original question: should you eat or drink your greens? I say do both!
Having fresh vegetable juice first thing in the morning and/or on an empty stomach will give you a wonderful boost of rich enzymes that are great for your entire body. The process of chewing and digesting vegetable fiber is also necessary for the body’s digestive tract, and energy as well. If you are forced to choose between a store bought juice and eating a real salad (not a calorie-bomb salad, mind you), go for the greens! Your body will feel more satisfied with food in its system versus a liquid form that doesn’t register as being “full.”
Another great way to sneak in vegetables is by making your own smoothie with greens, plain Greek yogurt (or a clean protein powder), and a small serving of frozen fruit. You can also add veggies to omelets, eat them as snacks (carrots with hummus for example), or even blended into soups– it’s easy and delicious!
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes.” To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com, www.PinkIslandFitness.com and 239-333-5771.