What is Green Juicing ?

Let’s get your main misconception out of the way right out of the gate: Green juicing does not consist of drinking only green vegetables. You can make your juice that way if you prefer, but most people don’t. Simply put, green juice is any juice (or smoothie) that is the color green.

That’s really all there is to it. If you’re sitting there drinking a glass of fresh green apple–green grape–kiwi juice with a splash of OJ, it’s green juice. Why? Because it’s green! Your glass may contain a concoction that’s clear and bright green, a deep, rich grassy green, or maybe even more Grinch-like in hue. Your fresh-squeezed glass of deliciousness may be a rainbow of colors, but as long as there’s green somewhere in that rainbow, you’re drinking green juice (or a green smoothie).

Smoothies, Juices: What’s the Difference?

Juices and smoothies are two extremely different animals, and though both are amazingly good for you, each has its own benefits. So what’s the difference between green juice and a green smoothie? In a word: pulp.

Juice is made in a juicer, or by blending the produce and extracting the juice via cheesecloth or some other method of straining. To make a smoothie, just throw your produce into the blender and blend it all together until it reaches a drinkable consistency. Juicing is a bit more of an art form than making a smoothie, but both have some basic rules you’ll need to follow for optimal results. We’ll touch on those throughout the
following chapters.

So what’s the nutritional difference between a smoothie and a juice? Again, the answer is in the pulp. A juice without pulp has practically no fiber, so the nutrients are absorbed almost instantly. This sounds like a good thing, and if your body is used to it, it is.

However, if you’re new to juicing, you may experience nausea, headaches, diarrhea, or dizziness, especially if you’re juice fasting and not consuming any fiber at all.

Another issue to consider when you’re deciding between juices or smoothies is that the heat caused by blenders and high-speed juicers may damage the nutrients in the produce and cause oxidation, killing the beneficial live enzymes. Whether to drink juices or smoothies is just a matter of personal choice and nutritional goals.

Green, Red, Orange, Purple: What’s the Difference?

All fruits and vegetables are great for you, so what’s the big deal about green juices in particular? The answer actually lies in the pigment that produces the green color: chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is often referred to as the blood of the plant and is responsible for stimulating the process known as photosynthesis. Simply stated, photosynthesis uses light to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose, which is used for energy.

Structurally, chlorophyll is nearly identical to hemoglobin, the molecule in your blood responsible for transporting oxygen. The only difference is that the central atom of hemoglobin is iron, while that of chlorophyll is magnesium. Many people believe that chlorophyll performs the same function as hemoglobin and count this as one of its health benefits. Though not scientifically proven, it’s a viable theory. Chlorophyll also helps to replenish our red blood cells, which in turn increases oxygen levels in our blood. Other benefits often attributed to this amazing green pigment include how it:

  • Promotes weight loss
  • Protects DNA from damage by many carcinogens
  • Enhances wound healing and tissue regeneration
  • Increases energy
  • Decreases inflammation in certain conditions, such as pancreatitis
  • Decreases appetite because it contains the compound thylakoid
  • Keeps carcinogens from attaching to DNA in many of your organs, and thus prevents development of cancer
  • Helps break up calcium oxalate stones in your kidneys
  • Extracts heavy metals, such as mercury, from your blood
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
  • Improves skin problems
  • Improves mental clarity
  • Maintains an alkaline environment in which diseases are unable to thrive

The reason it’s better to consume chlorophyll from raw juices and smoothies rather than from cooked vegetables is that cooking lowers the chlorophyll content. You can tell when this happens because your vegetables will change from a bright green to a darker, olive green. 

Once they have changed to the darker hue, there is very little useful chlorophyll left in the produce. Now that we’ve clarified the differences between juices and smoothies, and have reviewed the health benefits of green juices, let’s move on to some of the other major juicing topics.