We have all regarded the store bought juices as a healthy and nutritious drink. The truth is that many dietitians now advise that it is not so. Many of the off the shelf juices and smoothies from stores are full of added sugar and artificial ingredients which are toxic to health. Some do provide a little bit of nutrition, but by far, home-made juices/smoothies provide optimal health benefits. We will look at the some of these benefits in this article, followed by some simple fruit and vegetable combinations and their goodness.
Benefits of Fresh Juices and Smoothies:
Juicing is an easy and simple way of taking in vegetables and fruits. Many people have a difficult time consuming the daily recommended five fruits and vegetables. Incorporating them in this fashion makes it convenient, quick and above all wholesome. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide multitude of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and have nutrition that is easily extracted and absorbed by the body.
The various health benefits of fresh juices/smoothies include: weight loss (since fiber curbs hunger, and there are no saturated fats in these ingredients), heightened energy levels, glowing and clear skin, along with productive sleep.
Raw foods, especially vegetables and many fruits, contain natural vitamins/minerals, enzymes, fiber, and chlorophyll. The nutrition is great, and the uptake of these nutrients by the body can be up eighty percent or more! This is because the nutrients are broken down, mixed, churned and then presented for digestion, which is easier on the stomach, as much of its work is done. Since the nutritive value is so high, we absorb high quantity and quality of nutrients.
Fiber in the fruits and veggies helps to keep you fuller longer, therefore preventing unnecessary snacking. Fiber also cleanses your body and keeps your bowels regular. Please note that consumption of fresh juices or smoothies does not warrant the replacement of the actual vegetables (or fruits) consumption.
As mentioned earlier, fruits and vegetables are loaded with phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are found in various sources, but in high quantities in fruits and veggies. They have many different functions, an acting as an antioxidant is one of most prevalent. Examples of some are: lycopenes found in tomatoes (that protect against prostate cancer); carotenoids (in carrots and other fruits); flavonoids (such as in blueberries); and polyphenols (as found in tea and grapes). These phytochemicals also reduce the inflammatory process, thereby giving protection against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Chlorophyll is abundant in many green vegetables such as kale, cabbage, spinach, sprouts, wheat grass and barley grass. It is said that chlorophyll increases the efficacy of oxygen transport in the blood. It has been shown be effective in chronic pancreatitis patients in reducing their pain and other symptoms.
Over-cooking vegetables destroys much of the nutritive value of it. Many of the trace minerals and enzymes naturally present are disintegrated. Therefore, eating them raw, juicing or blending into a smoothie retains these important compounds, thereby giving you maximum benefit. One important thing in juicing or blending is to make sure to consume the item immediately. If not possible, put the mixture into the refrigerator for later. It is best to consume within a few hours even when in the fridge, to prevent any oxidative damage.
Besides phytochemicals, there are antioxidants such as vitamins C and A in most fruits and vegetables, along with other nutrients. Anti-oxidants fight against free radical and prevent oxidative damage to cells, thereby preserving longevity. Antioxidants also help to remove the various toxins that enter our cells from the environment and unwarranted foods.
Fresh, home-made juices and smoothies help to protect and boost your immune system, as nutrients are not lost while they are stored or during processing. This will help you be more capable of warding off disease, and more able to cope if affected.
These are some of the main benefits of fresh juices and smoothies. Remember that these benefits are magnified when we adopt such habits on a daily basis, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. There are innumerable ways of making juices and smoothies. It is beneficial to own a sturdy juicer and/or blender, as this simplifies the process.
Remember that for fresh juices, you can incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetable into the juicer. Be mindful not to add any extra sugar into the juice, as many fruits contain enough sugar to satisfy the palate. If still not enough, you can use natural sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or even a drizzle of a 100% juice (like pineapple). Also, remember that these same fruits and vegetables can be blended instead of juiced which would retain its valuable fiber.
As for smoothies, they are not juices, but blends of various items. Though there are no rules as to how to make one, they usually incorporate a few more steps than juicing. As with juicing, it is always advised to wash all the fruits and vegetables. Remove the peels, and seeds as needed. Now, since smoothies are usually silky and smooth, their base is usually cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk or yogurt (as they give added protein). This is just a suggestion though. So, you can start by adding one of those to the blender, followed by your fruits either fresh or frozen (like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, pears, apples, avocados, etc.), and of course the vegetables (such as spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.). Now, for added nutritive value, you can add things like a spoon of flaxseed (which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids), chia seeds (again high in good fats, and protein), hemp seeds, or nuts such as almonds, walnuts (as adding these give an extra boost of omega-3’s, and protein), etc. Last, but not the least, you can add sweetness with honey, molasses, or agave nectar. This is of course just one kind of a procedure for making smoothies. You can make just green smoothies, with a variety of fresh green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, combined with parsley, fresh coriander, and touch of lemon. Alternatively, you could make a smoothie that is exclusively made of fruits, or a combination of just fruits and veggies. Smoothies are just blended, whereas juices are extracted. That is the major difference. So, experiment with different ingredients and come up with your own unique recipes. Please have a look below for some good combinations of fruits and vegetables and their benefits.
Healthy Fruit and Vegetable combinations
Carrot & Ginger & Apple – Boosts our immunity and keeps us regular.
Apple & Cucumber & Celery – Prevent cancer, reduce cholesterol, and eliminates a stomach upset and headache.
Tomato & Carrot & Apple – Improves skin complexion, and they are a good source of antioxidants and carotenoids.
Bitter gourd & Apple & Milk – Bitter gourd is a good source of fiber minerals and antioxidants. It also helps in regulating blood glucose levels. Good for diabetes. Apple is loaded with fiber and other vitamins. Milk is a good source of protein and calcium. Thus having them helps you boost the immunity, keep you full and strengthens the bones.
Orange & Ginger & Cucumber – Improves skin texture and moisture and reduce body heat.
Pineapple & Apple & Watermelon – Hydrates the body, as they are high in water, especially watermelon. Makes us feel full; fiber content, and vitamin C. Immune booster.
Apple & Cucumber & Kiwi – Improves skin complexion.
Pear & Banana – Regulates sugar level and improves digestive health, due to fiber content.
Carrot & Apple & Pear & Mango – Clear body heat, counteracts toxicity, decrease blood pressure and fight oxidization.
Honeydew & Grape & Watermelon & Milk – Rich in vitamin C + Vitamin B2 that increase cell activity and strengthen body immunity.
Papaya & Pineapple & Milk – Rich in vitamin C, E, and iron. Improves skin complexion, and digestive as well as provides support for the immune system.
Banana & Pineapple & Milk – Rich in vitamins and prevents constipation
A simple recipe that I have tried out is a smoothie comprised of fruits and vegetables, with no added sugar or alternatives to sugar, as fruits already have a good quantity of fructose.
Recipe for 1-2 people (depending on the size of the ingredients):
1 apple or pear (of any kind)
Handful of strawberries
7-10 baby carrots
1 big handful of baby kale or baby spinach
Wash, cut and peel the ingredients as needed. Put the ingredients into a powerful mixer or blender. Add a little bit of water, and blend till smooth. Consume right away, or store in the fridge for a few hours. Enjoy!