Healthful Juices

For some very important reasons, it makes perfect sense to blend your own.

By: Tara Coleman
With the juice industry accounting for nearly 4 billion dollars in yearly sales, there is little doubt that preparing your own choice of ingredients, particularly from certified sources that are of your personal choosing for a customized blending of that select produce will best suit your needs. The many reasons why are outlined by Tara Coleman, a San Diego Nutritionist who firmly believes that cold-pressed juice has powerful cleansing properties and should be used to supplement a healthy diet, not replace one. The process is a simple one that allows for the finest selection of local produce and a proper blending of ingredients to maintain the highest and richest nutritional value.

Choice of ingredients tops the list in determining the quality of the product. Store bought juices range from certified organic to GMO processed vegetables. Given the difference in freshness, quality of flavor and healthful benefits derived from certified organic ingredients, it understandably should always be the much preferred choice.

Although we use the term juice universally, when it comes to your fruit and vegetable drinks they are not all made the same way. When vegetables are juiced the fiber is removed creating a high density in nutrients, and in some cases, a high sugar density. Blending your own has the health benefits of the fruits and vegetables while maintaining the fiber. This helps balance blood sugar, satisfies hunger and gives you long-term energy. Even with cold processing, which is the most efficient method that could be used by manufactured juices, it comes sans fiber, and its shelf life without preservatives is limited from two to four days.

Most shelf bought juice products are prepared in large batches, transported and then place on store shelves for purchase. The longer and further your juice has to travel to get to you, the more the nutrients are going to break down. This is true as well for a local juice company, which may batch their ingredients but once a week, lessening the nutrient benefits over the course of hours and days that it sits on the shelf or when being delivered to the homes. Even when going with an organic labeled product, they may have sourced their ingredients from the other side of the country or even the other side of the world. Buying your own local ingredients from the farmer ensures that you are creating the most nutrient dense drink possible.

Homemade juice allows for ultimate control over the ingredients and the customization of flavors. Perhaps you feel a cold coming on so you want to add the immune boosting ginger or you have had extra tough workouts this week so you want to throw in some pineapple for the extra bromelian. Making your own combinations not only improves the taste and helps keep you from being saturated with common flavors; it also allows you to make the perfect combo for your nutritional needs. The selection of known organic ingredients, the combination of nutrients recommended for one's personal needs, and customizing the flavors, can dwarf the nutritional benefits derived from processed juicing products.

A not-so-hidden benefit derived from blending at home is a weekly visit to the farmer's market, where you have the opportunity to meet with the farmers who have produced your ingredients, mingle with your neighbors and support the local community. North County has several markets to choose from, all very vibrant and fun to visit on the weekend. There is a wide range of choices, including some delectable food selections prepared on site to readily satisfy the most discerning of palates. 

Deciding on the mix for the week is a simple process of slicing up whatever variety of produce that you have chosen and placing the week's supply into a freezer bag to await the morning's call to action. Blending at home allows one to select the finest of ingredients and benefit from their highest nutritional value. The ideal combination is a 3:1 ration of veggies to fruit. Place a portion of the mix into the blender, add chilled water, and depending upon the ingredients, perhaps a bit of honey to sweeten the flavor. Cleanup is a breeze.

Considering that some store bought juices are selling for as much as $12 per 16oz container, it doesn't take much calculation to understand how this 4 billion dollar industry can become quite pricey, especially compared to what a grocery bag of certified organic produce can be purchased for at a farmer's market. An excellent blender can be paid for in relatively short order on the savings alone. The real beauty of it is that you have the blender to use in creating highly fresh, nutritional drinks along with an innumerable variety of other food creations.

The body needs protein and fat in order to thrive. Juicing vegetables also means getting rid of fiber, which is critical for healthy digestion, reducing cholesterol and managing your blood sugar. Juicing, hyped as a pure method to rid the body of toxins, can in some cases do more harm than good. The concern is genuine and it makes good sense to consider the alternatives before relying on simply cleansing the body without replacing necessary nutrients.