How Juicing Frees The Minerals From Vegetables, And Frees You From Feeling Tired After Meals

By Trevor Justice and Vesanto Melina, RD
An excerpt from Lesson 17 of The Mastery Program
At the bottom of this post, you’ll discover the pros and cons of juicing vs. smoothies. But let’s start with the benefits of juicing…
To help prevent cancers and other chronic diseases, updated national food guides such as the American “ChooseMyPlate” now recommend approximately 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.[3, 4]
This includes 5 servings of vegetables (about 2½ to 3 cups) and 4 servings of fruits (about 2 cups), with special emphasis on dark-green and orange vegetables and legumes.[3, 4]
If 5 servings of vegetables daily seems daunting, then read on to discover the wonderful benefits of juicing…
Note that cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, and broccoli are known to be particularly potent cancer-fighters.[1, 2] There is no evidence that the popular white potato, despite being a root vegetable, protects against cancer.[1] Also, it is wise to choose organic foods.[5]

Benefit #1: Get More Vegetables Into Your Diet.

Juicing is a great way to get these extra vegetables into your diet. After all, it’s much easier to down a pint of vegetable juice than to thoroughly chew an enormous salad. (That’s an awful lot of chewing!)
If you eat out often, it can be hard to eat 5 or more servings of vegetables per day. The vegetable portion at most restaurants is barely a single serving.
Suppose you currently eat a conventional “side salad” with both lunch and dinner, and a side dish of steamed vegetables. You can roughly double your daily intake of vegetables by adding a pint of fresh vegetable juice.
For example, 16 ounces of juice might include most of the vitamins and protective phytochemicals from six stalks of celery, two carrots, two leaves of chard, and two leaves of kale.
The end result: you get six servings of vegetables instead of three.
In lesson 28 of The Mastery Program – “12 Ways to Enjoy Greens Without Drenching Them In Oil” – you’ll learn some other ways to sneak more vegetables into your diet.
For example, you can serve dips and patés with celery, carrot, sweet pepper, and cucumber sticks instead of bread, bagels, crackers, or pita bread.
Likewise, you can make wraps using collard greens, chard, Napa Cabbage, lettuce, or bok choy leaves instead of flat breads like tortillas or pita bread.

Benefit #2:Breaks the Cell Walls and Frees the Minerals.

Phytate (phytic acid) is a substance in plants that binds with minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc).
Phytate is the storage form of phosphorus in plants, and the phytate-mineral complex is a structural material in plants. These phytate-mineral complexes can be broken down and the minerals released when cell walls are broken.[6, 7]
This process of breaking plant cell walls occurs when foods are juiced, blended, chopped or chewed. Enzymes called phytases split the phytate-mineral complexes, releasing minerals, which are then available to us for absorption.
Soaking foods (such as seeds or nuts) also supports this enzyme action and leads to the release of the minerals present.[6, 7]
You can unbind the minerals by breaking the cell walls with your teeth — if you chew your food well. However, as is the case with many people, unless you chew your raw plant foods extremely well, many cells are not broken and the mineral-releasing action of phytases is limited.
Juicing is a great way to break the cell walls. So is blending. Cooking has a lesser effect, varying greatly with the time and cooking method. Fermenting foods (as in making kimchi or miso) and leavening foods (as in bread making) also break down phytate and release minerals.
Even when you are enjoying a glass of juice, it’s still important to “chew” your juice, and not just guzzle it down. That’s because the enzymes in your saliva help pre-digest the juice.

Benefit #3: Vegetable Juice Doesn’t Need Oil or Fat.

Dressing your veggies with salad dressings, or even dipping them in hummus or guacamole dramatically increases the percentage of fat in your diet. Pure juices taste refreshing, and can be enjoyed without adding oil or salt.

Benefit #4: Easier To Digest.

A juicer does much of the work your digestive system normally does. It separates the nutrients from the indigestible fiber and releases bound minerals, for increased absorption. This reduces the work required by your digestive system, and can keep you from feeling tired after meals.

Don’t You Need Fiber?

People who eat the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) are rightfully obsessed with fiber. After all, animal products and white flour products have zero fiber!
If white flour products, white rice, and dairy foods, or soy cheese are the staples of your diet, then your diet could be deficient in fiber too. But if whole grains, beans, seeds, salads, and whole fruit are the staples of your diet, you’re already getting plenty of fiber.

Benefit #5: Heightened Absorption of Carotenoids and other Protective Antioxidants.

A Finnish study assessed the antioxidant intakes and status of 20 women and 1 man who had been following an entirely raw vegan “living food” diet for an average of five years.
These findings were compared with antioxidant intakes and status of non-vegetarians with similar caloric intakes, gender, age, social status, and residence.
The vegans had significantly higher blood concentrations of the protective antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They also had higher erythrocyte superoxide dismutase activity in the blood (an indicator of the antioxidant selenium).
Those on the “living foods” diets consumed wheatgrass juice and carrot juice on a daily basis. Wheatgrass juice and carrot juice are high in the carotenoids lycopene and beta-carotene.
The vegans also consumed twice as much fruit. Their intakes of antioxidant vitamins were approximately double that of the nonvegetarians.[8]
A California study compared the effect on serum carotenoids (the protective antioxidants alpha carotene and lutein) in women who consumed either carrot juice or raw carrots and cooked carrots.
In those consuming juices, serum levels of alpha carotene were triple and serum levels of lutein were double those consuming raw and cooked carrots. The women in this study had been diagnosed with breast cancer within the last four years and were hoping to reduce their risk of recurrence.[9, 10]

Why Limit Sweet Fruits And Vegetables in Juices?

Apples, carrots, and beets are popular ingredients at juice bars. But when you extract and drink their juices without the fiber, you get a rush of sugar along with the nutrients. That can create blood sugar spikes, with the subsequent release of insulin and crash in blood sugar.
The fiber in these sugary foods has a very important function. It helps slow down the absorption of sugar into your blood.
So we recommend using just enough of these sweet fruits and vegetables to offset the bitterness of mineral-rich leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and chard. We discourage juices made up predominantly of sweet fruits.
If you want to drink your fruit, make a smoothie instead of a juice. Then you’ll still get the fiber and protect yourself from sugar rushes.
Note that low sugar fruits like grapefruits are not an issue. You could safely mix one part fresh orange juice with one part fresh grapefruit juice.
Recommended Formulas For Juice:
1. Use celery or cucumber as the “main” ingredient for your juice; they are both high in water, and low in sugar.
2. Add a leafy green like kale, spinach, chard, or collard greens. These generate less juice than celery and cucumbers. But the juice they do generate will be ultra-rich in vitamins and minerals. The bitterness of these greens is an acquired taste. So if you’re new, start with just one leaf. If you’re not yet accustomed to their bitter taste, you may also start with Romaine lettuce.
3. Add just enough apples, carrots, or beets to offset the bitterness of the leafy greens. If you’re new, you might start with a 50/50 ratio (half greens, half sweet fruits or vegetables). Once you get started, gradually increase the ratio in favor of the greens.
4. Do not include buckwheat greens in your juices. Sprouted buckwheat is fine to eat. However, once the sprouts grow for more than about a day, especially in light, and start to become green, they develop a toxic component called fagopyrin. People, especially those with light skin, can develop sensitivity to light, skin irritation, and itching when juice made from buckwheat greens is produced on a regular basis.[11, 12]
5. Alfalfa sprouts contain a substance called l-canavanine, which can take the place of the amino acid L-arginine in proteins, making the proteins non-functional. While it is fine to consume small amounts of alfalfa sprouts (our bodies can handle a little), it is not advisable to consume large amounts (such as 2 cups a day) or to use similar quantities in juicing. Those with lupus should not consume alfalfa sprouts at all.[12-17]

Why Is Fresh Better?

You’ve seen how an apple turns brown once you slice it, right? In the same way, fresh juice will oxidize quickly. We recommend drinking it within 20 minutes.
Packaged juices contain lower amounts of vitamins and protective antioxidants. Not only are they days or weeks old, they’re almost always pasteurized (i.e. heated) for purposes of food safety.
This destroys significant amounts of the heat-sensitive vitamins that were present in the original raw juice. However, commercial pasteurized juices and smoothies are a better choice than soda pop, any day!

Don’t Have Time To Juice Every Day?

Note: this is personal advice from Trevor (not Vesanto)… I don’t have time either. That’s why I bought two airtight stainless steel thermoses. When I make juice, I make enough to fill three 16 ounce containers. After filling the two thermoses and putting them in the fridge, I drink what’s left. Here’s the model I own: 16 oz. Thermos.
I fill each one to the very top. Then as I tighten the lid, I make sure a small amount of juice comes dripping over the sides. That’s how I know there’s no air left in the thermos, and minimal effects of oxidizing.
There are slight losses of vitamins, antioxidants, and protective phytochemicals in this process though. Even in a spill proof container that is airtight, some losses occur. So drink your juice soon after making it whenever you can.

Types of Juicers[18, 19]

Centrifugal Juicer: This type of juicer masticates or chops the fruit or vegetable and spins it in a stainless steel or plastic basket at a high speed, separating the juice from the pulp. Centrifugal juicers are least expensive, however they wear out quickly and produce low quality juice; are loud; and are often difficult to clean. However, any juicer is better than no juicer!
Centrifugal Juicer with Pulp Ejector: This type of juicer operates the same as the centrifugal and additionally ejects the pulp through a side opening.
Blender plus a juice bag. A blender plus a juice bag can be used to make juices. A blender or food processor purees or liquefies the produce but does not separate the juice from the pulp. A juice bag (a mesh bag) can then be used to extract the juice from the pulp. Use a blender to masticate the fruit or vegetable then pour the liquid into the bag and squeeze over a container to catch the juice.
Masticating Juicer: These juicers masticate, or grind, the fruit or vegetable into a paste and then squeeze the juice through a fine screen at the bottom. The most popular example is the Champion line of juicer. This multipurpose unit also can form nut butters and frozen fruit-based vegan ice cream.
Twin Screw Press: This more expensive but popular line of juicers presses out the juice between twin screws without significant temperature increase. The Green Star line of juicers has more parts to clean than some others, but the latest Elite model has been simplified. These multipurpose units also can form nut butters and frozen fruit-based vegan ice cream.
Which Juicer Do We Recommend?
The Champion Juicer — which runs between $219 and $295 — was once the most popular model. However, the gears spin very fast, heating both the gears and the juice. The heat created takes a toll on some of the heat-sensitive vitamins in the juice.
For this reason, Tribest’s Green Life juicer was an instant hit when it was introduced to the market in the late 90’s. We (Trevor and Vesanto) both use Green Star juicers.
Today’s updated model, Tribest’s line of “Green Star” juicers have two gears that spin at a low speed, and do not create heat. They run around $400 and up. You can use a “Green Star” to juice fruit, greens, or even wheatgrass. (Although, the wheatgrass juice produced is a little foamy.)

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Juicing Versus Smoothies?

High speed blenders such as Vitamixes do a great job with blending; however they do tend to incorporate air. To minimize the amount of air, turn the blender to its lowest setting and then increase the setting slowly until the top of the liquid just starts to circulate (usually around speed 4 or 5 on a Vitamix).
Some slower blenders, such as Oster blenders, have less tendency to incorporate air. Other blenders, such as Blendtec blenders, may have more tendency to incorporate air. Some people like the frothy smoothies they get from this machine.
One possible disadvantage of swallowing the incorporated air is a little belching or intestinal gas. However people continually swallow air when they eat or drink. Many people do not notice these normal effects. (It is normal to pass gas an average of 15 times a day).
However, for others, results such as belching or farting are excessive and unwelcome. Intestinal gas also can result from the fiber consumed in a smoothie, which can be in the range of 8 grams of fiber per cup of fruit. Greens have less fiber; kale has 2.4 grams per cup; spinach 0.7 grams per cup.
The incorporation of air does mean that air can contact and oxidize some of the vitamins. There is some vitamin loss with blending vegetables and fruits to make a smoothie. However the losses are relatively small and plenty of extremely valuable nutrition remains.
People who say most of the nutrition is lost (in blending) are expressing a personal bias. There is no data to back up such statements. These people also may be inconsistent in selling dehydrated food which obviously receives much more exposure to air over hours.[19]
It is true that you will get somewhat greater vitamin retention by using a twin gear juicer such as a Green Star. At the same time, if you compare juicing and blending, you will have higher mineral losses with juice since some minerals are discarded with the pulp, along with plenty of fiber.
A British study assessed the effects of drinking 200 ml (5/6 cup) of fruit and vegetable-based smoothies for puree-based drinks daily for six weeks. The smoothies contained carrot, pumpkin, apple, and grape.
The control group received barley water-citrus “drinks”. Those consuming the smoothies on a regular basis had improved (higher) plasma levels of the protective antioxidants alpha and beta-carotene and vitamin C, and showed beneficial effects on vasodilation (enlargement of blood vessels), plasma oxidative stability and antioxidant status.[20]
Bottom line. Comparing juicing and blending, the vitamin and phytochemical retention are slightly higher in juices (though plenty is retained in blending) whereas the mineral and fiber retention is higher in blended soups and smoothies.
On a practical note, if you find it far easier to blend vegetables and fruits to make smoothies on a regular basis, you will get much valuable vitamin and phytochemical intake by using smoothies because you actually do it.
1. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Trend Progress Report. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption.
2. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research expert report. Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Washington DC. AICR. 2007
3. U.S Department of Agriculture. How Many Vegetables Are Needed Daily?
4. U.S Department of Agriculture. How Much Fruit Is Needed Daily?
5. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Trend Progress Report. Pesticides.
6. Davis, B et al. Becoming Raw. The Book Publishing Company, 2010.
7. Davis, B et al. Becoming Vegan: Express Edition. The Book Publishing Company, 2013.
8. Rauma AL et al. Antioxidant status in long-term adherents to a strict uncooked vegan diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Dec;62(6):1221-27.
9. McEligot AJ et al. Comparison of serum carotenoid responses between women consuming vegetable juice and women consuming raw or cooked vegetables. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999;8:227-31.
10. Reboul E et al. . Bioaccessibility of carotenoids and vitamin E from their main dietary sources. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54:8749-55.
11. Arbour G. Are buckwheat greens toxic? Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. June 2004.
12. Davis, B et al. Becoming Raw. The Book Publishing Company, 2010.
13. Akaogi J et al. Role of non-protein amino acid L-canavanine in autoimmunity. Autoimmun Rev. 2006;5:429-35.
14. Malinow MRet al. Pancytopenia during ingestion of alfalfa seeds. Lancet. 1981;1:615.
15. Roberts JLet al. Exacerbation of SLE associated with alfalfa ingestion. N Engl J Med. 1983;308(22):1361.
16. Alcocer-Varela J, Alarcon-Segovia D. Reply. Arthritis Rheum. 1985;28:1200.
17. Petri Met al. BALES: the Baltimore Lupus Environmental Study. Arthritis Rheum. 2001;44:S331.
18. Soria C et al. Raw Food Revolution Diet. The Book Publishing Company, 2008.
19. Juicer Comparison Charts, one and two.
20. George TW et al. Effects of chronic consumption of fruit and vegetable puree-based drinks on vasodilation, plasma oxidative stability and antioxidant status. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2012 Oct;25(5):477-87

20 Comment(s)

  1. I add in kelp from a capsule to offset the kale.

    Tara | Reply

  2. Helpful article.

    Robyn | Reply

  3. thank you for the inspiration!

    astaras | Reply

  4. This information is very helpful. I find that many would like to incorporate whole foods to their diet and limited income can make the purchase of a juicer or blender a challenge. I encourage getting what you can afford and gain the benefits of fruits and vegetables.

    Yvonne | Reply

  5. Nice article. THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION. I’m glad you included all the topics including the different juicers and how they work. | Reply

  6. I have concerns about juicing. My problem is that I have a thyroid nodule and I have been told that I should not eat broccoli and kale and other veggies in that family raw. That rules out a lot of beneficial veggies for juicing. What is my solution. I have been making smoothies with veggies and fruits and supplements recommended by my Naturopath.

    Katherine | Reply

  7. Katherine,

    The problem with kale (as an example) for low thyroid is that the goitrogens found in it can inhibit iodine absorption. Solution: Consume more iodine. Personally, I take Lugol’s JK Crow’s 5% Iodine solution. I’ve tried others, and only that particular one works for me. It eliminates the extreme coldness and issues with adjusting to temperature, improves my mood and seems to help with other problems as well.

    Fermentation also helps remove goitrogens, not just cooking. So you can eat kim chi to help your intake of raw vegetables as well. Seaweeds, which are a source of iodine (but not enough for me or most people with low thyroid by themselves) taste really good with kim chi, so I like to consume them together on salad regularly. I can go without vinegar and oil if I have seaweed and kim chi.

    Also, you can simply go for vegetables low in goitrogens as your main smoothie vegetables. Personally, I choose weeds for my green smoothies because they’re more nutritious and they’re goitrogen-free. Lamb’s quarters, dandelions, clover, plantain (waybread) leaf, comfrey and so on. A little wild power in your diet goes a long way toward healing hormonal imbalances and restoring adrenal functions!

    Hope this helps. ~ Raederle

    Raederle Phoenix | Reply

  8. We applaud the complete detail in this article. We rarely see a whole picture but when we do we are able to connect the dots to a healthier life.
    May we copy this article and use it as a handout at our free clinics?

    Thank you,

    Eleanor Britter

    Eleanor Britter | Reply

  9. Hi Eleanor,

    Great question. Vesanto Melina, RD has not given us permission to let this be distributed beyond our mastery program and blog.

    Raederle Phoenix | Reply

  10. What do know about the Nutra Bullit? It rips it all up in 10 seconds in individual servings and cleans up in a flash.

    P-daddy Worrall | Reply

  11. Hi P-daddy — nutribullet is a small blender, popular with rawfooders when they’re traveling. It’s not a juicer and personally I find it too small as my daily blender. They do have a big 1700 watt version now that gives about a liter of smoothie.

    Trevor Justice | Reply

  12. They may be talking about Magic Bullet which is smaller. I use the Nutribullet every morning and it pulverizes nuts, seeds, leaves, frozen fruit, carrots, into a nice smooth drink. And it makes sometimes more than you can drink. That also was the question I had. Thanks.

    chris b | Reply

  13. When is the best time to consume juices? I’ve seen some authorities who say to drink juice as a meal, some say to drink it as water (water distilled by the vegetable/fruit), some say to drink juice on an empty stomach, some say with meals, and some say between meals. What is your advice?

    Nancy Jo Welch | Reply

  14. Hi Nancy — when it comes to your own body, only you intuitively know what is best for you. Any time of the day, and with or without food, all have pros & cons biochemically. Normally for me, it’s when I have time to juice! And if I drink a lot of juiced leafy greens, then I’m not hungry. Actually water in vegetable/fruit is not distilled as the old natural hygienists taught. It’s EZ water H3O2. Still the best water you can drink! Google Dr. Gerald Pollack’s research.

    valarcher | Reply

  15. Recently, in my area I sometimes find carrots and beets with beautiful, fresh, healthy greens attached. I can’t use it all at once so I’ve been blending greens only in Vitamix and freezing in small amounts. Is this nutritionally wise? It’s just so sad to see such healthy leaves go to waste.
    Thank you for your comments and advice.

    janice | Reply

  16. Hi Janice — the best way to get the nutritional value of large quantities of leafy greens — such as carrot & beet tops — is to juice them. Blending & freezing is fine if you have the time. But to me, it’s a lot of effort for a small return, compared to the living nutrients in freshly picked greens. Just try freezing the leaves without blending them and you’ll see how they get freezer-burn. They don’t like it at all!

    Minerals are about the only thing that don’t break down in freezing, and even then they lose their bio-availability, e.g. the iron in beet greens needs vitamin C to be absorbed and the C is lost in freezing. Vitamin C is a living activity-vitamin. The more alive the plant, that is, growing in the moment you eat it, the more vitamin C it has.

    valarcher | Reply

  17. I would like to know if there are any vegetables that should not be juiced.

    Eleanor | Reply

  18. Hi Eleanor – in theory you can juice anything but in practice you’d juice in quantity only those vegetables & fruits that you can easily eat in quantity. And juice only a small amount of those you can’t eat raw in big amounts such as parsley and beet leaves.

    Some greens are high in oxalic acid which binds with calcium to form calcium oxalate, an insoluble salt. They are lambsquarters, beet leaves, parsley, purslane, spinach, Swiss chard, amaranth leaves and sorrel. Leave rhubarb leaves alone, they can poison you when eaten in large quantities.

    The guideline is, if you can sit down to a plate of it, then it’s ok to juice it. If you can’t, then juice only a tiny bit. Adding a small piece of ginger to a green juice or apple juice is delicious, but you would never eat a plate of ginger!

    valarcher | Reply

  19. The cruciferous veggies like kale, collards, etc. can be shed of their goitrogen if one cooks them at least 30 minutes before eating. If that’s the only thing I have around to eat, I add a little fresh lemon juice to free up the iron, a little garlic and ginger, and blend it into a little pate, and eat it with a salad or cooked beans in the winter. I’m really sensitive to the lack of energy in cooked foods, and the older (80) I get, the more selfish I get about wanting to feel good and energetic all of the time, instead of tired after I eat cooked foods, so I am not interested in cooked food at all at this moment.

    In the summer, I use the wildcrafted weeds mentioned above in my blender with a spring mix. Less and less I am going north in the winter, so more and more, I’m sticking with juiced and blended.

    Flora | Reply

  20. My mum boiled our vegs to death
    We r all healthy my sister 80
    My mum lived till 98. I juice
    And eat health and am sicker
    Than all of them. What do u think
    My mum grandma had tons of white suger
    That was all that was available
    My mum was born in 1908.

    Barbara | Reply

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