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Dietitians Dish: To juice, or not to juice

By By Elizabeth Sommerfeld
April 22, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 21, 2014 at 11:22 p.m.


Juicing has been around for years but first became very popular in the 1990s.

There are several different types of juicing machines. Masticating juicers use a single gear driven by a motor that kneads and grinds the produce placed in the chute.

The most common machine is a centrifugal machine, which uses a spinning blade - that resembles a cheese grater basket - to quickly grind items and get rid of the pulp through a side chute.

A triturating machine has two gears and moves slower. These are considered the best on the market because they work similar to the masticating machine but slower; therefore, more nutrients are extracted, and the overall consistency of the juice is thicker and smoother.

All of these machines work by removing only the juice from the fruit or vegetable in the machine.

While juicing can provide a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in a glass, beneficial pulp and fiber is removed and wasted.

In a study published by Uckoo et al. in the Journal of Food Science, when juiced grapefruit was compared to blended grapefruit, there was significantly more nutritional value - a higher level of many flavonoids - to the blended grapefruit in comparison to the juiced grapefruit (by hand or machine.)

Many antioxidants and phytochemicals are found in the skin of the fruits or vegetables, which are not used when juicing. A better option to juicing is to make a smoothie. In smoothies, the entire skin and pulp can be used when making a drink. This helps to include all the additional benefits that come with the whole fruits or vegetables.

Of course, eating the whole fruit and vegetable and a wide variety of those fruits and vegetables will provide the recommended servings of daily fruits and vegetables. Research has indicated that reducing the thickness of foods causes us to eat more.

In other words, liquids don't fill you up as much or for as long as solid foods. Juices can also be very high in calories; one 4-ounce cup of juice has about 60 calories; therefore, if you drink a tumbler full of juice, you could consume 420 calories. So, eating the fresh produce probably has the best benefits to your health, but juicing or making smoothies can be a great way to get in those fruits and vegetables you can't seem to manage eating on their own.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld is a registered dietitian nutritionist and bariatric coordinator at DeTar Healthcare System. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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