2 Juices That Are Surprisingly Bad for You (and 5 to Drink Instead)
Is juice good or bad for you? This question is not so easy to answer, as it depends on a number of factors. Is the juice store-bought or homemade? Is it fruit or vegetable? Is there any added sugar or salt? Is it cold-pressed or from concentrate? Is it organic or conventional? The list goes on. (See also: How to Juice on a Budget)
Good, bad, or ugly, I think we can all agree that eating whole foods over processed counterparts is best. Fruits and vegetables are whole foods. When they're juiced at home, they contain all their nutrients in an easily absorbable form — minus the fiber, which gives the digestive system a break.
Whatever your stance in the debate, it's smart to choose lower glycemic fruits and vegetables for juicing. Strangely enough, a glass of 100% pure fruit juice can contain more calories than is in the same amount of soda. Juice is obviously the better choice between the two, but it's smart to be discerning with all beverages so those natural sugars don't skyrocket your daily caloric intake. (See also: 5 Best Juicers)
First up are a couple of juices to skip, depending on your health needs.
Juices to Avoid
There are a few select juices that can actually be bad for you beyond sugar and extra calories. Bad for some of you, that is. So, it's important to be aware of situations which might make that "healthful" glass more harmful than helpful.
1. Grapefruit Juice
A freshly squeezed glass of grapefruit juice can be a refreshing morning treat bursting with vitamin C. However, if you're on certain medications for lowering cholesterol or treating depression, for example, you should pass. Studies have shown that taking these medications and drinking grapefruit juice can cause an increase in the drug's potency. Some interactions are insignificant, while others could prove fatal. Be sure to chat with your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns.
2. Leafy Green Juices
Whether it's spinach, kale, or some other dark, leafy green juice, individuals taking blood thinners like Coumadin should beware. To get enough juice from these vegetables, you must use large quantities, which concentrates the vitamin K, a natural coagulant. In general, it's best to check with your doctor before making drastic dietary changes (like juicing, going on salad kick, or becoming vegetarian) that could work against the medication.
Good for You Juices
With those special cases out of the way, let’s look at five juices that really are good for you.
1. Carrot Juice
When I started drinking juices, I opted to ease into vegetable territory by trying carrots, which are naturally quite sweet and palatable. If your liver is in need of a cleanse, carrot juice might do the trick with its high concentration of detoxifying vitamin A.
2. Beet Juice
If you're training for a marathon or other endurance event, beet juice could be your secret weapon. Studies have shown this deep magenta beverage can actually improve stamina when taken regularly. Other boasting points include lowering inflammation and even fighting free radicals. I actually enjoy a blend of homemade carrot and beet juice. (See also: Foods You Should Add to Your Diet)
3. Pomegranate Juice
Though still high in sugar and, therefore, calories, pomegranate juice delivers quite a punch when it comes to those vital antioxidants, especially polyphenols. Though the jury is still out on whether pomegranate juice can lower cholesterol, what researchers do agree upon is its ability to "block or slow the buildup of cholesterol in [the] arteries."
4. Tomato Juice
I think we've all heard by now that tomatoes are particularly rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to lower cancer risk. Strangely enough, it's the processed tomato products that concentrate the health benefits best. When sipping store-bought tomato juice, choose varieties that are low in sodium — and skip the fruit blends entirely. (See also: 15 Tasty Ways to Enjoy Tomato Juice)
5. Wheatgrass Juice
Long extolled for its many health claims — from curing constipation to reducing high blood pressure to lessening acne scars — wheatgrass juice is one of the best sources of chlorophyll available to us. Better yet? You may only need a shot of the stuff to see a boost.
Do you juice? What are your favorites?