While juice was once relegated to sippy cups and children's lunchboxes, different types of juice have increasingly been viewed as vital parts of a healthy diet, as rich sources of fiber, antioxidants, and other healthy ingredients. Green juices run the gamut, from fruit-based juices with only a small sliver of vegetables, to juices based primarily in vegetables and even some herbs. No matter the precise ratio of fruits to vegetables, green juices do possess some health benefits that should not be ignored, not the least of which is their ability to deliver powerful antioxidants to the body quickly and easily.
What Is Green Juice?
The term "green juice" can be vague, but is essentially used to describe a concoction made of different fruits and vegetables. Called green juice primarily because of its color, green juice does have a great deal of variation in terms of what ingredients go into the creation of the juice, but will have a strong focus on green veggies or leafy greens.
The use of green vegetables in green juice recipes has the potential to scare some people off--particularly those who are averse to vegetables as a general rule--but green drinks are typically made to balance the sweet, tart, and bitter flavors associated with green vegetables and fruits, and most green juice recipes rely on the combination of fresh juices to maximize both taste and benefit.
What Is In Green Juice?
Green juices usually consist of green leafy vegetables. These may include spinach, swiss chard, kale, and other green ingredients such as cucumber. Lemon, ginger, green apples, and kiwi are also common additions to these drinks, as they help balance some of the stronger flavors found in green vegetables, bitter herbs, and other ingredients designed to strengthen and soothe the digestive tract. The precise vegetable juice found in green drinks varies, but usually includes enough that a hefty splash of fruit juice is needed to counterbalance any unpleasant or intense flavors.
What Nutrients Are There In Green Juice?
Green drinks are typically preferred as great sources of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, K, and B6 are often present, as are calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. All of these ingredients can be found in eaten vegetables, but may not be found in concentrations as high as those found in green juice.
Green juice benefits also extend to what is not present: green drinks do not possess fats, and are often enjoyed for this reason. Unless pulp is included in the juice, though, green drinks will also not offer fiber as part of their nutrient profile, leading some to prefer more holistic green drinks.
10 Health Benefits of Drinking Green Juice
The health benefits of drinking your vegetables may not directly heal various health conditions, but can help maintain health and protect against some concerns. The most significant benefits include the following:
1. Great Source of Essential Nutrients
The beneficial nutrients found in these juices range, from antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, to probiotic properties, depending on the ingredients included. Including green drinks in your daily routine can help deliver these essential nutrients without the addition of them in a supplement.
2. Helps With Weight Loss
One study found that consuming green juice resulted in significantly diminished weight gain. Less weight gain occurred when green drinks were incorporated, though the precise serving of these drinks was not established (whether it was a single serving, given as a meal replacement, or something else entirely).
3. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Another Pubmed study determined that green juices filled with green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables may significantly reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It was also linked to reductions in overall cholesterol levels, which has been tied to changes in cardiovascular health that can be elevated or diminished by increasing or decreasing the nutrients in a balanced diet.
4. Reduces the Rate of Cognitive Decline
Although it does not specifically focus on juice made from leafy greens, another Pubmed study did demonstrate that rates of cognitive decline were significantly diminished when individuals' daily intake of green leafy vegetables and other foods containing phylloquinone, lutein, nitrate, folate, a-tocopherol, and kaempferol came in at least one serving per day. This came after adjustments for numerous other improvement avenues were made, suggesting that taking in leafy vegetables on a daily basis can go a long way in reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
5. Reduces Inflammation
Including leafy greens as part of a balanced diet can also reduce inflammation. One study suggests that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables reduces oxidative damage and oxidative stress, resulting in improved health.
6. Better Gut and Digestive Health
Gut health can also be improved by consuming green juice. Veggie and fruit juices provide polyphenols, oligosaccharides, fiber, and nitrate, all of which can induce a prebiotic effect in the gut, or can feed the healthy flora found in the digestive tract. A study determined that a 3-day juice-based diet altered intestinal microbiota to increase the likelihood of weight loss and decrease lipid oxidation.
7. Controls Blood Pressure
Because green juice is made from different vegetables and fruits, blood pressure can be positively impacted by regular consumption of these juices as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. While one study found that drinking fruit juice had a borderline significant effect on the reduction of diastolic blood pressure, another determined that cucumber and tomato juice were effective ways to reduce both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Because blood pressure has been linked to numerous medical conditions, maintaining healthy blood pressure is essential for health.
8. Boosts Immune System
Green juice can also act as a daily dose of immune support. Because these drinks are positively packed with essential vitamins and minerals that boost immunity, including vitamin C, drinking green juice powders, fresh-pressed juices, or store-bought juices may protect the immune system, reduce severity of allergic reactions, and more effectively fight off infections.
9. Keeps You Hydrated
Although water is certainly one way to maintain hydration, green juices are an excellent source of consistent hydration, as well. These drinks possess high levels of water, electrolytes, and other essential nutrients necessary to stay hydrated. Rather than reaching for a Gatorade or other electrolyte drink, you can use the health benefits of green juice to replenish lost fluid and electrolytes, reducing fatigue and improving energy levels in the process.
10. A Great Alternative to Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Green juice can provide an ideal alternative to taking in countless vitamin and mineral supplements. Green drinks provide essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients naturally, and in a bioavailable form, while some supplemental forms of these components are not as easily
How to Make Green Juice At Home?
Making green juice at home is easy enough, and involves only a few simple steps. These steps include:
- Gathering ingredients. You can grab what you have on hand to create your own green juice, or follow a specific recipe. Depending on your goal, either of these can work well to start a green juice journey. If you are aiming to include specific nutrients, vitamins, or minerals, utilizing a recipe is likely to be your best bet. If you are simply interested in reaping some of the benefits of drinking green juice, you can start experimenting or mixing and matching your own juice.
If you are not sure where to start, consider using leafy greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard, vegetables such as cucumber, celery, and carrots, and fruits such as apples, oranges, or pineapple. For an added kick, you can even utilize herbs and spices like parsley, mint, turmeric, and ginger.
- Washing and prepping ingredients. Stems and seeds often contain the most bitter compounds of plants, so try to remove both prior to starting your green juice recipe. Be sure to wash ingredients prior to using them, as well, as you do not want to introduce dirt, bacteria, or other potentially harmful components.
- Adding ingredients to juicer or blender. Depending on what you have available, there are different ways to make and enjoy your green juice. If you have a dedicated juicer, your green juice will have less pulp and heft, and will provide a smoother consistency. If you are using a blender, your green juice may have more of a smoothie-like consistency, though pulp can be removed through using cheesecloth or another type of strainer.
- Pour the juice into a glass and enjoy! Some people prefer to prep ahead of time, and make enough green juice to last a few days (or even a week), while others prefer to make sure they are receiving the freshest ingredients by juicing only right before juice is imbibed.
Fresh Juices vs. Store-Bought Juices: Which Is Better?
Fresh, homemade juice is always going to win over store-bought juice, because fresh ingredients possess more nutrients and vitamins than juice that was made days or weeks previously. Store-bought juices are also usually processed or pasteurized (though this is not always the case), which can further break down some of the beneficial components in a glass of green juice. Adding a fiber source like our Green Barley & Chia Seeds Aojiru drink packets can further boost the health benefits of green juices by providing the fiber that is typically removed from green drinks during the juicing process.
Store-bought juice also frequently contains added sugar and preservatives, which can negatively impact the level of health improvement offered. Some studies have even linked sugar-sweetened beverages--including fruit juice with added sugar--with type 2 diabetes. For better blood sugar levels and general benefits, it is best to avoid commercial juices and make your own whenever possible.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Drinking Green Juice?
Green juice is not intended to replace actual food, but should be used as a way to supplement an already healthy, whole diet. Drinking too much juice can, over time, increase oxalates in the body, which can in turn lead to the development of kidney stones or other kidney issues, such as kidney failure. Green juice is also low in protein and fiber--two essential components for balanced blood sugar levels in the body. For all of these reasons, green juice can be added to your diet, and can even help reduce your reliance upon other supplements, but should not be used in place of other foods, and should not be mistaken for a meal replacement.
Green juice can be an excellent way to supplement your diet with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants without having to significantly change your routine or spend a great deal of money. Green juices, when consumed in appropriate amounts (think once per day) can improve your health--perhaps even more so when they are used alongside a source of fiber or protein--by increasing cardiovascular health, stabilizing blood sugar levels, controlling blood pressure, boosting immunity, and staving off cognitive decline.