The Hemp Connection + [spinach]

Be informed before you get too juiced!

I've been getting a lot of questions about juicing lately, so it's clearly a popular trend right now. I love the fact that juicing gets more vegetables into people who normally wouldn't get them. However, there are some important things to know about juicing if your intent is to use it for a healthier diet.

1. Juice contains calories! Ounce for ounce, juice and soda are similar calorie-wise. 8 ounces of either is about 120 calories. Some of the sweeter juices are even more calorically dense. Don't get caught up in the false assumption that because it's juice, it's lower in calories, or that unlimited quantities are permissible.

2. When you juice your vegetables, you remove the fiber. In researching this blog post, I learned that many juicer companies actually sell this point, claiming that without the fiber, the nutrients that are left are more easily absorbed. The fiber itself is an important nutrient! Especially if you're someone who has trouble regulating energy or blood glucose levels. If you're counting on your juice as your source of all of your vegetables, you could be cutting yourself short on fiber.

3. If carrots are what you're juicing, be aware that you can overdose on vitamin A. I've seen this actually happen, it's not just a myth. If the pads of your hands and feet start to get an orange-ish tinge, and you've recently fallen in love with juicing carrots, you might want to think about the connection. Be sure to vary your juice ingredients.

4. Spinach, another common vegetable to juice, eaten in high quantities, is high in oxalates. This compound can prevent the absorption of iron, calcium, and magnesium. It can also promote the development of kidney stones. Oxalates leach out of spinach when it is cooked, but if you're using the juicer for convenience, this extra step may not be useful. Other foods high in oxalates, in case you're using them in your juicer, include rhubarb, beets and sorrel.

5. Juice contains little to no protein. You may find that when you switch to a juice-heavy diet, your craving for sweets increases. What I recommend to people who ask about juicing, is to make a smaller amount of juice and blend it in with milk, yogurt, or protein powder. I actually like to use 1 cup of plain yogurt, a ripe banana, one other piece of a different fruit, plus a handful of veggies and some ground flaxseed. I always vary the fruit and the vegetable to be sure I don't overload on any one food. And I keep the fiber and protein in my breakfast.

If you make those simple adjustments, the possibilities and combinations are endless. Enjoy!