Health Benefits of Drinking Your Greens

Drinking Your Greens
Maybe you love drinking your greens? Or maybe not so much? People are usually in one camp or the other. We’ve all heard that getting more greens into our diets is important for optimal health. But how do we do that, especially if we don’t like greens? My hope is by the time you finish this article you’ll be drinking your greens, one way or another!

I happen to LOVE drinking my greens. When I lived in Seattle I used to drink greens juices regularly, stopping in at my local juice joint for a quick, healthy fix of ENERGY almost every day. With the right combo of veggies, greens juices are my FAV way to start the day, or for a mid-afternoon pick-up.

Drinking your greens has some great health benefits and now that we’re in Mexico I’ve been missing that healthy fix. Thankfully we recently bought a juicer and have now started making our own fresh greens juices. But not everyone is a fan of drinking you greens. If you don’t like to taste your greens, another option is to blend them into a smoothie instead. So what are some of the health benefits of drinking your greens? And what is my FAV greens drink recipe that I hope you’re gonna love?

Greens juices are harder to come by in Mexico where they drink lots of fruit juice. Juice stands that do sell “greens juices” usually use orange juice as the predominant base. What’s “green” about orange juice?! Even though it’s natural fruit sugar, without the fiber to slow down digestion, it’s like mainlining sugar straight into your veins which can still jack up your blood sugar. A little fruit with your greens for taste is just fine, but drinking straight fruit juice is not much healthier than drinking a soda as far as sugar content goes. No bueno.

To Juice or Blend Your Greens?

That is an ongoing debate. There are two schools of thought about drinking your greens, either you juice, or you blend. I actually think both schools have their merits, and so we trade off between the juicing and blending since there are health benefits to drinking your greens each way.

No matter which way you go, blending or juicing, the KEY is to use Organic green veggies. Many green veggies are on the Dirty Dozen List, and since presumably you’re drinking your greens to help keep your body HEALTHY, you do not want to be using greens that are full of pesticides and toxins.

Health Benefits of Drinking Your Greens

One of the biggest health benefits of drinking greens is the amount of chlorophyll you get. You might recall chlorophyll from your elementary school day science projects—it’s what makes plants green. But did you know it’s also a super-food loaded with antioxidants and cancer-fighting nutrients? Some of the health benefits of chlorophyll include helping control hunger and cravings, detoxing the liver, body odor control, increased wound healing, improved digestion, improved skin health, and more.

Have you ever noticed that plants don’t wear sunscreen…and also don’t get cancer? Chlorophyll protects plants from UV damage. And new research is looking in to the UV protection factors of chlorophyll in humans that eat a diet rich in plant-based foods as well…but that’s a topic for another post.

Blending Greens in Smoothies

Veggies for Greens JuiceTrying to get in another serving or two of greens a day for more fiber or antioxidant phytonutrients? Don’t have a juicer? Blending your greens into a smoothie is a fantastic way to go. All that fiber will help aid in healthy digestion, especially if you typically eat a lot of processed foods. Fiber also helps stabilize blood sugar (as does cinnamon) so if you like fresh fruit in your smoothie, definitely add in some greens and some cinnamon.

Not a fan of the flavor of greens juices? Then a smoothie could be a good solution for you. Take your green veggies of choice and mix in some nuts, a banana or some berries, cocoa powder, vanilla, or other supplements like NYR Organic’s Organic Greens Complex or Organic Fiber Blend. And you won’t even taste your greens!

In fact try my Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie, you’ll never even know you’re drinking your greens. Maybe your kids won’t eat their veggies? Guaranteed they’ll drink them in this smoothie!

Drinking Your Greens Juice

While juicing removes most of the beneficial fiber you get when eating or blending your greens, there’s a powerful reason to juice your greens on occasion too. Not having to digest all that fiber makes the nutrients immediately bioavailable, and gives your digestive system a break too.

When you drink greens juice all of the healthy pyhyto-nutrients and minerals are delivered directly through your intestinal wall and straight into your cells, making you feel alive and giving you an instant burst of healthy energy. This is one reason that many alternative cancer-fighting and cancer prevention protocols use greens juice as their base, it mainlines healthy nutrients to the cells immediately.

And think about this: our hunter-gatherer ancestors only ate once or twice a day, if at all on some days. Our digestive system was not designed to have food forced through it every couple of hours, and it really benefits from a break every once in a while. Many of the ancient Wisdom Traditions practice occasional fasting as well.

So if you have access to a juicer, give thanks to your gut and give it a day-off (or a meal off) by drinking a healthy greens juice on occasion. Even if you don’t have a juicer, you can blend all of the ingredients in a Vitamix or heavy-duty blender, then strain through cheesecloth.

Which Juicer is Best?

Veggies for Greens JuiceThat’s another good question. There are multiple types including cold press, centrifugal, and masticating, and tons of juicing experts. I am certainly no expert on juicers but I am here to help you make the healthiest choices possible. So I want to share the main criteria we used when looking for our juicer, in case that helps you. (And full disclosure, I get zero financial gain in promoting any one juicer.)

We did a LOT of research before we bought our juicer since there are pros and cons to all of them. Price was less of a factor because let’s face it, juicers aren’t cheap to begin with, and if you’re paying for fresh juices from a juice bar every day that’s not cheap either. I’m a big believer in “you get what you pay for”, and I wanted a juicer that would last.

So this is the criteria that was most important to us:

  • Small footprint (we live on a sailboat, so we don’t have a lot of room! 🙂 )
  • Easy to use and clean up
  • Extracts the most juice from veggies and fruits, not too wasteful
  • Low decibel (I don’t like noisy appliances)
  • Low RPM extraction

RPMs was a biggie, and I did not know this before I started researching juicers. A lot of juicers these days are high-RPM. While that may produce juice more quickly, all that spinning also adds a lot of oxygen into your juice—which can make you think you’re getting more volume than you actually are because it’s all frothed up. And guess what? All that oxygen also oxidizes the healthy phytonutrients in your juice, causing loss of the nutritional value before it even hits your lips, let alone your cells. No Bueno.

In the end we chose the Omega VSJ843RS because it met all of our criteria above. I’d have to say we’re most impressed by the very small amount of dry pulp that is left over (see photo above), it really gets ALL of the juice out, and it’s very quiet too. It’s also fairly compact and cleanup is pretty quick (5-10 min.)

And now the recipe I know you’ve all been waiting for…

Heidi’s FAV Greens Juice Recipe

Enjoy Drinking Your Greens!
While I can’t take full credit for this recipe, because it’s basically my FAV Evolution Essential Greens with Lime, I’ve added a bit of apple and an inch of ginger to punch it up.

Ingredients
Ensure organic produce for healthiest results.

5-6 stalks celery
1/2-1 cucumber (1/2 a slicing cucumber or 1 whole pickling cucumber)
2-3 handfuls of spinach
5-6 leaves of romaine (use whole big leaves, not just hearts)
1-2 large kale leaves, stripped from stem
6-8 stems of parsley
1″-1.5″ ginger
1 green apple (this adds just a bit of sweetness, you can easily leave it out for no sugar)
2 small limes (or 1 large lime) **Do NOT juice the lime, hand-squeeze it in at the end, juiced lime rind is very bitter.

Directions
Chop up all ingredients sized to fit your particular juicer, and juice away. When everything is juiced, squeeze in the fresh lime, stir, and ENJOY! Your body will thank you with the very first sip.

Please leave a comment letting us know which way you like to drink your greens? Also here’s a link to an article I wrote for the Chopra Center on The Difference Between Fasting, Juicing, and Detoxing.

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