It seems like everyone’s crazy about their Vitamix juicer these days. Celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Mindy Kaling have jumped on the juicing bandwagon, and juice bars have become the new coffee joint on every corner—wheatgrass shot, anyone?
Doubters say juicing isn’t any healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables, but nutritionist Danielle Omar says it can be especially helpful for people who have trouble digesting fiber. Putting raw fruits and veggies into a juicer removes the fiber, so it’s gentler on the body. For that reason, people with sensitive digestive systems can get the nutrients found in produce without the fiber that upsets their stomachs.
And since you can pack three or four servings of vegetables into one drink, juicing is “great for the person who maybe doesn’t love veggies, but wants to increase the quality of his or her diet,” Omar says. It’s also a tastier way to incorporate veggies that trip up picky eaters or kids.
However, Omar notes that one common misconception about juicing is that it’s a tool for weight loss. “It’s not supposed to be a meal replacement, because it lacks protein and fat and isn’t filling,” she says. “It should be part of your daily diet as a super-easy way to get a lot of vegetables at once and increase your variety.”
In addition to fiber, some nutrients—the ones in the skin—are left behind when juicing. But for the most part, Omar says, the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals found in fruits and vegetables remain in the juice, giving you most of the same benefits as eating the whole foods. Some high-speed juicers, like the popular Vitamix, will grind up even skins and seeds, resulting in a more pulpy juice with even more nutrients.
Omar recommends starting out with easier-to-tolerate veggies, such as celery, cucumber, and lettuce, and adding lemon and other fruits to make the juice taste good. She says the best way to incorporate juices into a healthy diet is to start with one a day, perhaps with breakfast or between meals.
Here are three juice recipes for beginners, and Omar’s template for future recipes: Two veggies, one fruit, and one green make a perfect juice.
Basic Juice Recipes
Have your own juice recipe? Share it with us in the comments.