Juicing is often promoted as healthy and nutritious, as a way to detox the body or lose weight. But recommending juicing for children requires a closer look at what juicing is and what it may offer.
A juicing machine extracts the juice from whole fruits or vegetables. The processing results in a liquid beverage containing health-promoting properties such as vitamins and phytochemicals (including flavonoids), but eliminating most of the pulp or fiber. Dietary fiber is associated with many, many health benefits, such as lowered risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal diseases to name a few.
Juicing is an opportunity to engage children in the process of selecting ingredients, adding them to the food processor or juicer and watching them transform into a liquid. Popular juice options combine colorful veggies such as kale, carrots, berries, and maybe bits of ginger for spice. Apples offer sweetness without overpowering the beverage.
If kids are picky eaters, juicing may be an option to help them meet daily recommendations for vegetables and fruits. Remember that juicing is concentrated and consuming too much or too quickly might lead to gastrointestinal problems. For example, you can easily drink the juices of 3 apples, but would find it difficult to sit down and actually eat three apples because of the fiber content.
Juice should be consumed right away or refrigerated to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria. Exposure of the drink to air causes oxidation and loss of nutritional value, especially vitamin C.
Overall, juicing may offer variety and can be part of a healthy diet when used in moderation and a little common sense.
Image credit: fitlife.tv
Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company