When it comes to nabbing the wellness scene spotlight, juicing has never taken shade. And why would it? Not only is it an easier way to get the recommended four-and-a-half cups (or nine servings) of veggies in a day, juicing allows for the faster absorption of nutrients.
But if you’re new to juicing, be mindful of where you start. “It’s easy to want to put everything into your juice. But if the flavor is too harsh — which can happen when you’re trying to stay away from sugary fruits — chances are juicing won’t be a long-term commitment,” says Marjorie Cohn, RDN and Owner of MNC Nutrition.
Your sipping speed matters, too. You’ll want to drink up quickly to get the biggest nutritional benefit. “Juicing veggies (and fruits) increases surface area of the produce and exposes it to oxygen which is oxidation,” Cohn says. “Oxidation causes the antioxidants in the produce to breakdown, which is exactly what we don’t want. The sooner you drink up the more nutrients your juice will have.”
So which ingredients give you the most bang for your buck? Before whipping up your next green juice, stock up on a few of these expert-approved additions.
10 Best Ingredients You Should Add to Your Green Juice
Looking for a natural way to sweeten your juice? Skip the sugar and reach for carrots. They’re a perfect compliment to any bitter greens, and are chock-full of health benefits. “Carrots are known for minerals potassium, phosphorus and calcium. They’re also rich in beta-carotene — an antioxidant important for producing mucus membranes that protect our eyes and other organs and tissues,” says Cohn.
If you’re looking for visible payoffs, carrots can help boost the health of your skin. “Vitamin C is a precursor to collagen production, which diminishes as we age and increases fine lines and wrinkles,” says Alex Caspero, RD.
You might not consider herbs when whipping up your morning shake, but it’s time to rethink the pantry staple. Instead of reaching for the dried parsley, juice a few fresh sprigs to reap the nutritional benefits. “Parsley is very low in calories and adds a nice, herby flavor to green drinks,” Caspero says. “It’s also high in vitamin A, C and K and has been shown to have a detoxifying effect,” she adds.
The winter months aren’t the only good time to lean on ginger. Boost your immune system year-round by adding it to your morning juice. Packed with antioxidants, ginger contains essential nutrients like magnesium, potassium, manganese and vitamin B6.
Motion sickness from that bumpy morning commute leaving you queasy? Bypass the drugstore. Research by Brigham Young University found that ginger was more effective in treating motion sickness than dimenhydrinate, the active ingredient found in over-the-counter motion sickness tablets.
4. Dark Leafy Greens
There’s a reason spinach and kale often make the base of juiced drinks. Loaded with antioxidants, just a quarter-cup of juiced kale contains one milligram of iron — six percent of the recommended daily intake for women, and 13 percent for men. It also provides your entire daily intake of copper, an essential trace mineral that increases the absorption of iron and aids in regulated heart rhythm.
When it comes to juicing, don’t forget the organic beets. “They have a mild sweetness that can balance other more pungent veggies,” Cohn says. “Beets are also high in nitrates and magnesium, which improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.” Want to add even more essential vitamins to your glass? Include the stem and greens for calcium, iron and vitamins A and C.
Add a pop of color to your juice with a dash of turmeric, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation and treat indigestion. “Herbs and spices can actually be synergistic and increase their antioxidant effects and overall health benefits when used in freshly juiced fruits and veggies,” Cohn says. She also recommends adding herbs and spices such as ginger, garlic, cilantro, basil, and even cinnamon and cocoa to your juices. “It’s great way to help boost the antioxidant level, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC), of your juice,” she says.
Cucumbers might be 95 percent water, but they provide a slew of essential nutrients that make them the perfect candidate for the juicer. Aside from adding some volume to your drink, they’re packed with vitamin K and calcium, which helps build strong bone tissue and helps your blood clot proper to stop bleeding in wounds. Its copper content can also help boosts your immune system.
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Skip the ants on a log and juice this leafy green vegetable instead. Celery is alkalizing and is said to lower blood pressure. Find yourself drained after sweating it out at the gym? Celery’s high water and electrolyte content can help prevent dehydration.
If you’re a fan of black licorice, the mild, sweet flavor of fennel could be the way to go. Not only is it excellent for digestion, but it also helps to reduce bloating. The bulb is the best part of the plant for juicing and contains a lot of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps boost immune health.
10. Broccoli and Cabbage
When it comes to juicing faux pas, there aren’t any vegetables that should be completely off limits, but there are ones that should be used in moderation. Cruciferous veggies are goitrogenic and contain substances that suppress thyroid function when consumed raw. “If someone is dealing with thyroid issues then it’s probably best to incorporate raw cruciferous veggies like cabbage and broccoli in moderate amounts,” says Cohn. “This is true for those who drink glass after glass of juiced mustard greens and kale too,” she adds. “For the average person, a few stalks of leafy greens in their juice isn’t going to cause any interaction and doesn’t need to be avoided.”