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Originally published Friday, November 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM

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Juice is not a meal, it’s just juice

Chew your food, both for the fiber and for the signals it sends to your brain saying you are getting full. Drinking your food bypasses those signals. Fruit juice also has a lot of fructose, i.e. sugar.


Special to The Seattle Times

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I’VE NEVER really liked green juice. I could eat kale every day — and some weeks I do — but the taste of juiced greens brings out the kid in me who refuses to eat her vegetables. No, no, no.

I have not been swayed by the juicing craze. I like fresh fruit juice on occasion, but not as a replacement for a meal.

The rest of the world seems to disagree, or at least that’s what it seems like some days on my Facebook newsfeed. Seattle has contributed its fair share to juice mania. Starbucks has Evolution Fresh, which trumpets its cold-pressed juices, and juice shops have popped up around our active, health-obsessed city. According to a New York Times article on New York Fashion Week, it’s common practice for people to juice for three days before the big week.

People say they juice to cleanse and to get more vitamins and minerals. Minh-Hai Alex, a registered dietitian in Seattle, says she often wonders about the motivation for people doing a juice cleanse.

“A lot of times the hidden motivation is weight loss even if they say otherwise,” she said. “It’s just another form of crash dieting.”

I’ve done enough cleanses and talked to enough nutritionists to know that most would much rather you eat your food than drink it. Chew your food, both for the fiber and for the signals it sends to your brain saying you are getting full. Drinking your food bypasses those signals. Fruit juice also has a lot of fructose, i.e. sugar.

Drinking fruits and vegetables doesn’t replace eating them, Alex agreed. It removes the fiber, so it’s not as filling, she said. It’s also low protein.

Juice cleanses also are not an effective way to detoxify, Alex said. If you want to detoxify, work on supporting your liver and kidneys by eating cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage) and adding green tea and turmeric to your diet and drinking plenty of filtered water, she said.

Fresh juice also is expensive. Spending $7 on a juice is not my idea of a bargain, especially if I’m hungry an hour later. You can juice at home, but if you’ve ever tried making fresh juice, you’ll quickly see why it costs $7.

That said, the non-pasteurized fresh juices being offered these days have vitamins, minerals and antioxidents, and for people who never eat fruits or vegetables, it can dramatically increase their intake, Alex said.

Another potential benefit is the synergistic effect that comes from drinking a bunch of fruits and vegetables, such as kale, carrots, cucumbers, apple and ginger, and your body’s biochemical response to the combination, Alex said.

She hears from people who say juicing makes them feel fantastic.

Juice can be a supplement, Alex said, though it is not an essential one.

“I don’t think people should give up fruits and vegetables,” she said. “I have a theory that a lot of people who don’t like vegetables don’t know how to prepare them so they’re tasty.”

I prefer eating my greens, although I’m sure I will still drink juice on occasion, hold the kale. Will I ever drink juice to replace a meal? No. Will I still drink juice and resent paying $7 for it? Probably.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com. Susan Jouflas is a Seattle Times staff artist.



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