Juicing is about making a commitment to your health. Why jeopardize your good intentions by putting anything but organic produce through your juicer? Conventionally grown fruit and vegetables do provide beneficial nutrients, but they also harbor residues of synthetic fungicides and insecticides, all potential cancer-causers, according to the EPA. These chemicals can increase the number of free radicals in your body—exactly what juicing aims to remove through its delivery of antioxidants.
Juicing supplies enzymes, which help keep our bodies in top form. Choosing organic maximizes the benefits of juicing, for you and for the soil, earth, animals, and agricultural workers who are at the vanguard of how our food is grown. Choosing organic is especially important for the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables, which the Environmental Working Group (EWG) identifies as being the most contaminated with chemical residue: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines (imported), peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers. Additionally, the EWG found that domestically grown kale, collard greens, and summer squash are often contaminated with chemicals that are damaging to the nervous system. When preparing hard-skinned produce for juicing, wash with white vinegar and water; for produce without a peel, simply add lemon juice to the water rinse. Wash your produce well—even the organic—and enjoy your juice.
Travel, as produce does, through a masticating juicer. Different brands and types of juicers will vary in their process and parts.
Plunger—Helps push produce into the machine below.
Hopper—Guides produce straight into the grinder; restricts the size of the ingredients.
Grinder—Pulverizes the produce into pulp and juice.
Strainer—Separates the pulp from the juice, leaving just liquid.
Bowl—Distributes juice through a spigot; disposes of pulp.
Base/Motor—A good motor is crucial for a high-producing juicer.
Juicing can be an easy way to work more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your diet—particularly if you don’t eat the recommended 4 to 5 daily cups of fruits and vegetables. Juices strengthen your immune system, and a 2006 American Journal of Medicine study found that people who drank fruit or vegetable juice at least three times a week were 76 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who juiced less than once a week.
For the biggest benefits, think of juices as an addition to, rather than a replacement for, eating vegetables. Juices are loaded with nutrients, but they don’t contain the fiber found in produce that keeps your digestive system healthy.
Not all juices are created equal. While vegetable juices are naturally low in sugar and calories and packed with nutrition, fruit juices are surprisingly high in sugar, so consume less than a cup per day. For the most nutrients, make your concoction from deeply colored vegetables. Add antioxidant-rich ginger, parsley, or mint for an even bigger disease-fighting kick. —Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.N.
Juicer photography by Thomas MacDonald
Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, June/July 2014