Juices are totally trendy these days, but the real benefit of downing your nutrients in liquid form isn’t how beautiful they look against a white background for Instagram. It's all about how your body is able to absorb those good-for-you vitamins easier.
That being said, Ken Immer, president and Chief Culinary Officer of Culinary Health Solutions, explained that not all juices are created equal. Pure fruit juices are often dense in sugar content but low in fiber, making it an unhealthy choice for your balanced diet. But veggie juice mixed with a little bit of fruit gives you a slightly sweet taste while also helping you stay energized and refreshed.
So what exactly should you add to your daily juice concoction? Well, it all depends on what you're looking for. Couldn’t fall asleep last night? Just worked out and need to replenish your energy? Here, nutritionists give their best advice for what to add to your juice habit, based on what’s going on in your body (and life):
If You Have a Hangover, Add Herbs, Veggies, and Electrolytes
One bottle turned into 99 on the wall (or floor), and suddenly that 9 a.m. conference call seems impossible. On your way into the office, Kaleigh McMordie, Registered Dietician Nutritionist, says that while there's some evidence that certain herbs and veggies can reduce the effects of a hangover, it’s a better idea to protect your liver when you’re feeling knocked out from booze. Key ingredients include thyme, ginger, prickly pear, and ginseng.
Another option, according to clinical nutritionist Tara Coleman, is to double up on electrolytes. “Electrolytes are the key vitamins and minerals that help the water absorb and improve your cellular hydration," she explains. “Try using coconut or electrolyte water as a base for your juice.”
If You Have Allergies, Look For Veggies and Fruits With Flavonoids
It will soon be the season for outdoor picnics, open-toed shoes, and sneezing your head off every time you open a window if you’re one of the millions of folks who suffer from seasonal allergies. McMordie advises looking for fruits and vegetables that are high in flavonoids, particularly luteolin, apigenin, quercetin, and kaempferol. “These have been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms of seasonal allergies due to their ability to inhibit the release of histamines, synthesis of IL-4 and IL-13, and CD40 ligand expression,” she explains. Not sure where to begin? No prob. McMordie says to stock up on kale, celery, parsley, and berries to put in your juice.
If You’re About to Work Out, Opt for Beet Juice
You set your alarm, slept in your workout clothes, and actually made it to your fitness class with about 30 seconds to spare before they closed the doors. Congrats! Or not: Getting the right nutrients before you burn a ton of calories is an important part of staying healthy. McMordie says beet juice is the right choice before you work up a sweat because it increases levels of nitric oxide, which assists in blood flow and oxygen availability to your muscles, which can improve endurance, efficiency, and overall performance.
If red beet juice just doesn’t sit well with your stomach, Coleman says pineapple is also helpful before a sweat sesh because it has an enzyme called bromelain, which helps reduce swelling and soreness.
If You Just Worked Out, Try Some Watermelon, Spinach, or Celery
If you're familiar with Popeye, you know all about those cans of spinach he went ga-ga over. There’s a good reason for that, according to Immer. Spinach gives you multi-nutrient density for recovery after you work out. If you're adding it to your juice, you might need a bit of sweetness, so add watermelon for hydration and celery to replensih the minerals you lost in your spin class.
If You Have An Upset Stomach, Add Some Ginger
There’s a reason ginger ale is the drink of choice when you have an upset stomach or you're feeling queasy on a plane. Ginger is the go-to therapy for any sort of tummy issue, according to Coleman. “It helps relieve nausea and vomiting, soothe the intestines, and can even reduce embarrassing gas,” she says. Add a little to your juice to ease your rumblings and get back on your game.
If You’re Breaking Out, Add Some Parsley
Excessive sweat, a shift in your hormones, or just a food that your skin didn’t care for can all cause some unfortunate breakouts. If you’re hoping to get rid of the zits ASAP (aren’t we all?), Coleman says to double up on the parsley in your juice. Because it contains a nutrient called eugenol, it’ll help fight bacteria to clear up your pores.
Immer adds that sometimes your breakouts can be due to an unhealthy gut, so if you improve your digestion, you’ll also clear up your complexion. To do this, try oranges, spinach, carrots, and collard greens. “Improving your intestinal barrier with the choline contained in the collard greens can be a great first step. Vitamin C and vitamin A are also associated with strengthening the immune system to help bring your body back into balance,” he says.
If You’re Trying to Lose Some, Try This Ultimate Smoothie
The right mix of juice ingredients help you shed weight, according to Immer. The perfect recipe? Kale, dandelion greens, parsley, celery, squash, broccoli, lemon, apple, and orange. “This is the ‘ultimate green juice’ that has incredible drinkability, [is] super delicious, covers all the bases nutritionally, and is very filling," he says. The "best part is that you can make a bunch of it and freeze it in ice cube trays and add it to smoothies or just ‘crunch’ on them. This can let you use the juice as a snack/meal replacement to help cut down calories or help change eating patterns,” he explains.
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