I’m normally not a big fan of drinking any type of juice — it spikes blood sugar, it’s high in calories, and it doesn’t fill you up like real food does. However, all those veggies are AMAZING for diversifying your gut microbiome, and so much more! I love drinking green juice. I think they're delicious. Although a mouthful of greens might be associated with a bitter taste, you may be pleasantly surprised — I was!
Here are 8 things to consider when it comes to choosing a green drink, whether it be powdered form or freshly juiced.
This is a top priority! I only buy ORGANIC green juice because most greens are high on the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen list (ie: celery, cucumber, spinach, kale, collard greens) for toxic chemicals like pesticides, glyphosate, fungicides and more. Those chemicals are absolutely horrible for our body and are even linked to cancer. Glyphosate also destroys the good bacteria in your gut, and is linked to autoimmune conditions.
Also, non-organic green juice doesn't taste as good as organic green juice.
Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition
Green juice is commonly made from kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, celery, parsley, mustard greens, collard greens and cucumber. This brings me to my second reason to give green juice my blessing: it’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants! As a busy mom, greens in a bottle is a really convenient way to incorporate their massive nutrient content every day.
Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in many green foods, and is critical in the process of photosynthesis—when plants convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen using sunlight. Chlorophyll is the most important biological compound needed for plants to live and thrive. Advocates say chlorophyll assists in the detoxification process by binding to and removing heavy metals from the body, and by creating an alkaline environment.
How I Drink Green Juice
Cold is a must! I look for green juice with little to no fruit, and prefer the common flavorful additions of lemon, lime, ginger, or mint which increase the flavor profile.
As far as timing goes, here are the four times I prefer drinking green juice: #1) Post-exercise (so refreshing and rejuvenating); #2) As a snack between meals (fueling and energizing); #3) First thing in the morning with breakfast (sparks your metabolism and is enlivening); #4) When I travel. I'm guaranteed greens on-the-go when eating choices aren't always the best while traveling.
Real Veggies Fill You Up More Than Juice
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends two to three cups of vegetables a day, so green juice definitely makes it easier to reach that goal, but don’t forget to eat your whole “real” vegetables. Here’s why: drinking isn’t the same as eating when it comes to feeling full and satisfied.
Here are factors that affect how full you feel both while you’re eating and afterward: the act of chewing, the time it takes to eat, and the space the fiber and water take up in your stomach from your “real” veggies. If you’re trying to lose weight or reduce your snacking, you’re better off eating a salad or nibbling on raw green veggies like celery stalks, cucumber slices, sliced bell pepper, snow peas, or broccoli florets.
Juicing all those greens drastically reduces the fiber content in the juice. Drinking green juice offers about 0-4 grams of fiber, which is measly compared to eating the real thing. Fiber is important for helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels, filling you up, keeping your bowels regular, maintaining weight, and supporting the health of your colon.
The Sugar Content
Since my green juice obsession, I quickly learned to be selective when choosing my green juice. Some have as little as 2 grams of sugar and others have 30+ grams of sugar. Keep in mind 4 grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon of table sugar! I want a low sugar drink and refuse to buy a green juice with more than 15 grams of sugar total.
Drinking freshly squeezed green juice can be a lot more expensive than eating your vegetables or using a green drink powder. The cost of green juice can range anywhere from $4 to $10 per bottle!! For this reason, I try to buy green juice on sale, use a convenient organic greens powder, or make my own juice in the Vitamix. This green smoothie is my favorite! I also really like any organic green drink powder I can mix and take on the go or use in a time crunch.
There’s definitely a place for green juice in your diet. Whether you’re serving up a platter of green salad or enjoying green juice - either way, greens are good!
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods