The vast majority of us fall way short of the recommended 5-a-day intake of fruits and vegetables. And juicing (or blending) seems like a convenient and easy way of increasing our daily intake of raw vegetables. To help you along, I have compiled a few great vegetable juice recipes, as well as tips on how to create your own.
Of the health benefits of vegetables
First, a quick recap of the reasons why we should eat (or drink) more fresh produce, and in particular vegetables. Although the recommended intake is 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for adults (that’s 400g/day), their benefits really start kicking in when you hit a 10-a-day target (800g/day). According to a research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on February 22, 2017, this quantity is linked with a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 31% lower risk of premature death.
I have listed below the most beneficial fruits and vegetables highlighted in the study, as well as their health benefits:
Green leafy vegetables and salads
Kale is high in iron, vitamin K, and vitamin A, and is loaded with antioxidants.
Spinach is loaded with vitamins (especially vitamin A and C) and minerals, as well as antioxidants.
Lettuce, preferably the Romaine or cos type, is rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as omega 3 and potassium
Wheatgrass is a powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants and is particularly rich in proteins and amino-acids
Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A, C, K, and potassium, as well as the prostate-cancer fighting antioxidant lycopene.
Cucumber is rich in vitamin K and polyphenols, and thanks to its 95% water, is a good way to increase the volume of your juice without the flavors too much.
Cabbage is packed with some of the most powerful antioxidants among cruciferous vegetables, as well as vitamin K and C.
Broccoli contains twice as much vitamin C as an orange, almost as much calcium as whole milk (whilst being better absorbed) and is rich in selenium and folic acid.
Cauliflower is packed with vitamin C, as well as a lot of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Yellow and green vegetables
Peppers are very high in vitamin C, as well as vitamins and minerals such as thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium, and copper
Carrots, which gave their name to beta-carotene, are extremely rich in vitamin A and contain also other useful nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Green beans contain large amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids, as well as vitamins A, C, and B, among other healthy nutrients.
Sweet potato is extremely rich in vitamin A, as well as vitamin K and B6. They also help regulate blood sugar.
A few beneficial fruits
Apples are loaded with natural fiber, as well as vitamins C, A, B vitamins and other minerals.
Pears are beneficial all-rounders and contain a fair amount of all the nutrients your body needs, as well as loads of fibers. Most of those are in the skin though, so refrain from peeling them.
Berries are effective immune boosters and are rich in antioxidants, offering a good variety of nutrients. Try and pick different varieties when in season to make the most of them.
Citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are renowned to be rich in vitamin C, as well as other nutrients.
On a side note, tinned fruits were associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality, whereas cooked vegetables and potatoes were linked to lower risks.
How to create healthy fruit and vegetable juices?
Fruits, even beneficial, have a higher sugar content, so the idea is to create delicious juice recipes that include at least two of the above beneficial vegetables, plus one of the beneficial fruit. I use a slow juicer and can’t really handle the amount of fiber in smoothies. But feel free to compare both options and try blending and juicing.
Feel free to pick some of the fruits and vegetables listed above to create your own tasty juices or read on for a bit more inspiration. I have grouped a few recipes by color, to stimulate all the senses.
If you want to find out a bit more about the benefits of a specific fruit or vegetable, feel free to check the Mercola Food Facts here.
Most juicers have a fairly narrow chute and you’ll need to chop your fruits and vegetables roughly before loading them in. This is especially important for stringy vegetables, like leafy greens or celery. The easiest way to juice leafy greens is to mix them up with the rest of your ingredients.
When trying a new recipe, you can tweak it as you go along, by leaving the juice in the juicer chamber to mix all the ingredients well, and tasting your juice now and then. The juice yield will vary depending on the size of your fruits and vegetables and their freshness, so the quantities below are a guide only.
Perhaps the most famous of healthy juices due to their high vegetable and high nutrient content. They usually involve some leafy green vegetables, and apples or some other sweet fruit, like grapes or pear, to take the bitterness away.
- 1 cup of spinach or kale
- 1 apple, cored
Use this as a base, then add another vegetable to taste:
- ¼ cucumber, for a refreshing drink
- ½ stalk of celery
- ½ cup of sweet potatoes (the white type), for a more filling juice
- lemon juice or a few pieces of ginger, peeled, to taste
Or check out those awesome juice recipes using wheatgrass as a base.
Pineapple is a great way to sweeten your vegetables, while still adding plenty of nutrients to your juice. Try this:
- 1 cup pineapple pieces
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
Or check the After-workout Hunger Buster from Health Ambition.
I love carrot juice. By themselves or combined with other fruits and vegetables, carrots just hit the spot for me, with the right level of sweetness.
- 3 carrots, peeled or scrubbed
- 1 apple, cored
- 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled
Or this one:
- 2 carrots, peeled or scrubbed
- 2 cups of pumpkin
- 1 apple, cored
- cinnamon, ground
- 1 beet*
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 red apple, cored
* Juicing beets with their skin on will give a slight earthy taste. If you don’t care much for it, peel it first.
Or the old favorite, for a sober Bloody Mary:
- 2 large tomatoes
- ½ celery
- salt and Tabasco, to taste
Those are firm favorites with kids, although you might have to add fruits to disguise the vegetable taste a bit more.
- 1 beet
- 2 carrots
- 1 orange
Or this one:
- 1 beet
- 1 medium-size sweet potato
- 1 pear, cored
- ½ cucumber
- ½ cup blueberries
- ½ pomegranate arils
- ¼ lemon juice
Or check this Super Purple Juice from Nosh and Nourish
Found your perfect vegetable juice yet?
There are loads (and I mean, loads) of juice and smoothie recipes on the Interweb, but I’ve found this website quite useful: https://juicerecipes.com/. You can create your own recipes and check out their nutrient content or look up specific recipes using ingredients you have at hand, and even save your creations to make sure you can enjoy them again.
In the meantime, feel free to check out my basic juice recipe (as recommended by my doctor, when I got started with juicing).
And please do share your favorite recipes in the comments below!