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Juicing 101: Benefits, Ingredients And Recipes

What’s not to love about fresh, healthy juices packed with flavor and nutrients? Here’s how to get started.

Stock up on farm-fresh fruits and veggies and break out the home juicer. We’ve got your DIY guide to whipping up flavor- and nutrition-packed blends.

The old adage of “an apple a day …” seems to have progressed into “a juice a day.” If you want to forego pricey store-bought versions, invest in a juicer and follow this juicing guide—it’s easier than you think!

Why Juice?

Drinking a raw, freshly squeezed spun or pressed juice is an excellent way to reap the phytonutrients from several pounds of produce. Unlike smoothies, where whole fruits and veggies are puréed, juices do not contain fiber, so your body hardly requires any energy to digest them, and the nutrients are rapidly absorbed into your system.

Where To Start

New to juicing? Know this:

Cucumbers pack a generous yield and alkalizing punch without the potent taste of “green.” Start with less flavorful vegetables such as cucumber, celery and spinach. If you want to add more pungent vegetables such as kale, beets or even cabbage, you can counter their strong tastes with a little citrus fruit or apple—or mix in a couple of ounces of coconut water after juicing.

Plan on 2-3 pounds of produce for one 16-ounce glass of juice. Cucumbers, celery, beets, fennel and carrots have higher water content than kale, cilantro, or spinach. Make the base of the juice a “high yield” vegetable or apple, and then juice a few of the leafy greens and herbs to round out the taste and nutritional profile.

Freshly made juice is best, but if you can’t drink it all at once or prefer to make a few at a time, transfer juice into an airtight container (mason or recycled glass jars work well) immediately after juicing.

RELATED: Feed Zone Recipe: Beet Juice

Juice This

Apples are a low-glycemic fruit that contain pectin, which pulls impurities out of your system.

Beets cleanse the liver and are great sources of vitamin B6, calcium, iron, and nitrate, which, when converted by the body to nitric oxide, dilates blood vessels to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.

Broccoli is said to have a cancer-fighting compound.

Carrots contain a significant amount of vitamin A from beta-carotene.

Celery contains a bevy of electrolytes including sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Celery is high in vitamin A plus B1, B2 and B6, as well as iron and phosphorus. Consuming celery helps balance the body’s pH levels.

Cilantro has been shown to remove toxic metals such as mercury, lead, and aluminum from the nervous system and body tissues.

Coconut meat, oil, milk, and water have significant nutritional values. The water is high in electrolytes while the meat is full of medium-chain triglycerides, which the body can use immediately for energy. Consuming coconuts can improve insulin production, and they have been shown to kill bacteria and viruses.

Cranberries contain compounds that help prevent bacterial attachment to the stomach and urinary tract. This berry contains many anti-cancer phytonutrients as well as vitamin C and manganese.

Cucumbers provide a high yield of juice and is mild in flavor. It is extremely alkalizing and provides a multitude of B vitamins.

Garlic contains allicin, which provides its aroma and flavor, and has antioxidant properties. Consuming garlic will increase blood flow and relax blood vessels.

Grapefruit, loaded with vitamin C and low in sugar, is as nutritious as it is tangy.

Ginger is said to mitigate inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. It can help alleviate both morning sickness and motion sickness, and there have been studies showing it protects against Alzheimer’s disease.

Jalapenos contain a day’s worth of vitamin C as well as healthy doses of vitamins K and A in one medium-sized pepper. They also have a high concentration of potassium. The capsaicin, or heat, in these chilies will also raise your metabolic rate.

Kale, a dark leafy green, is a nutritional powerhouse. It is full of vitamins C, K, and A and is a tremendous source of iron and calcium. It also packs a whopping dose of lutein, which helps with eye function.

Lemons are extremely alkalizing to the body and contain a high dose of vitamin C, which protects the body against inflammation.

Onions are the richest dietary source of quercitin, which has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.

Oranges are full of anti-inflammatory vitamins A and C.

Parsley contains vitamins A and C, potassium, and folic acid.

Spinach is chock-full of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, manganese, and selenium. It also contains an abundance of vitamin K, which helps maintain a healthy nervous system, and lutein, which helps fight macular degeneration.

Turmeric contains curcumin, one of the most potent anti-inflammatory spices.

RELATED: Six Steps To A Revitalizing Juice Cleanse

Recipes For Well-Being

Use your home juicer to create these nutrient-rich blends, and adjust the ingredients to your personal taste. Each of these recipes yields approximately 16 ounces of juice.

Green Ginger Supreme
1 medium-large cucumber
2 stalks celery
1/4 apple
1/2 lemon
1 broccoli stem*
1 handful spinach
5 leaves kale
10 cilantro sprigs
1-inch piece of ginger

Veggie Beet Zinger
1 medium cucumber
2 stalks celery
1 medium carrot
1 medium beet
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/8 medium-sized red onion (peeled)
1/4 jalapeno (or any chili pepper)
10 cilantro sprigs

Citrus Carrot Plus Ginger Alkalizer
7–8 carrots
1-inch piece of ginger
1/2 lemon
1/2 orange
1-inch piece of turmeric
Optional: pinch of cayenne pepper

Mighty Green Coconut Water
4 ounces (1/2 cup) coconut water, preferably fresh**
2 celery stalks
1/2 large cucumber
1/4 lime
1/2 apple
5 kale leaves

*Buy an entire head of broccoli; use the florets for cooking and juice the fibrous stems.
**If you don’t want to deal with cracking your own coconut, Harmless Harvest ( packages raw, unpasteurized coconut water.

RELATED: Training And Racing With Whole Foods

Tools Of The Trade

This gold-standard hydraulic (or cold press) juicer yields the most juice, rendering the pulp almost dry. Cold pressed juices tend to keep longer, for up to five days ($2,500).

Breville makes top quality centrifugal juicers that cater to a range of budgets and uses ($149–$399).

The Jack LaLanne brand is slightly more affordable and nearly rivals the Breville ($85–$125).