More and more people are discovering fresh fruit and vegetable juices aren't just delicious. The advantage of drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices is the health benefit of true freshness. None of the vital nutrients are lost when juice is consumed immediately after it is made. Just as important, no additives, preservatives, sugars, or sweeteners are added, and the juice has not been pasteurized to extend its shelf life. Fresh juice is absolutely pure, and you know exactly what it contains. The bounty of antioxidants in fresh fruits and vegetables has made it increasingly apparent why it is important to enrich our diets with these nutrient-packed powerhouses. Today, this goal can be easily achieved with a few flavorful swallows, since drinking three 8-ounce glasses of juice can provide the nutritional benefits of up to 3 pounds of fresh fruits or vegetables.
Freshly juiced vegetables give your body an instant boost of nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and minerals in a form that the body can easily assimilate, absorb and digest – in fact, studies have shown that the nutrients from juiced vegetables are within our bloodstream within 30 minutes of consumption!
At the most basic level, juicing allows us to add much more vegetables to our daily diet and up the amount of raw food we consume, giving the body energy and boosting the immune system and the body's cleansing processes.
Fresh juices are also believed to be a potent weapon against disease; studies show that juices can speed the healing of infections and can even help cure stomach ulcers. And when used in conjunction with other natural techniques, such as herbs, homeopathy and nutritional therapy, fresh juices can create an optimal nutritional foundation to bolster the body's innate healing abilities. High-Octane Nutrition. Fresh juices have more going for them than just vitamins and minerals. A growing body of scientific research suggests that when it comes to the health benefits of fresh produce, vitamins and minerals may be just the tip of the iceberg.
Buying Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
At retail stores, purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that are not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh-cut ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables, be sure they are refrigerated or surrounded by ice. Fresh fruits and vegetables can become contaminated with harmful bacteria when they come into contact with unprocessed food items such as meats and their juices. Whether at home or at retail stores, be sure to separate fresh fruits and vegetables from unprocessed food items in order to avoid cross-contamination.
Washing Fruits and Vegetables & Preparation
Discard any rotten fruits and vegetables. Before and after handling fresh fruits and vegetables, always wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap. Before eating, preparing or cutting fresh fruits and vegetables, thoroughly wash them under cold running water, unless otherwise specified - do not use soap or detergents; with a clean produce brush, scrub fresh fruits and vegetables that have firm surfaces, such as oranges, potatoes and carrots. Improperly washed fresh fruits and vegetables can become contaminated during cutting; cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables since harmful bacteria can thrive in these areas. Clean your knife after cutting these damaged or bruised areas.
All food equipment such as counter tops, cutting boards and utensils that come into contact with fresh produce should be thoroughly washed with hot water and soap. Rinse them and sanitize them with a mild bleach solution (5ml/1tsp. bleach per 750ml/3 cups water) and air-dry. Avoid using sponges because it is difficult to keep them free of bacteria. Immediately place peeled or cut fruits and vegetables on a separate clean plate. Avoid putting them back on the cutting board.
Pesticides are chemicals that are used to control pests that destroy crops. They are used in the production of most crops sold in the United States . These chemicals may increase your risk for cancer or other chronic diseases and should be limited in your diet. To reduce consumption of pesticides, follow these tips:
- Wash all fruits and vegetables with water
- Before eating apples, cucumbers, potatoes or other produce in which the outer skin or peeling is consumed, scrub with a brush
- Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and cabbage
- Peel fruits or vegetables when appropriate, although some nutrients and fiber may be lost when produce is peeled
Once your fruits and vegetables were ready for harvest, they were handled by several different pairs of hands in the fields and orchards, then in the warehouses and finally again in your grocery store. Listeria, Salmonella and E. Coli may all be lurking on your fruits and vegetables, whether they are organically grown or conventionally grown.
You need to get those fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, but not the insects, chemicals and bacteria that come along with them so make sure you wash your fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables
- Start with keeping your kitchen counter tops, refrigerator, cookware and cutlery clean.
- Always wash your hands before preparing meals and handling fruits and vegetables.
- Keep fresh greens, fruits and vegetables away from uncooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
- Choose healthy looking, ripe fruits and vegetables when you shop. Avoid bruised, moldy and mushy produce.
- Wash all pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, even if the label claims they are pre-washed.
- Wash all parts of your fruits and vegetables, even if you don't plan on eating the rind or peeling. Bacteria living on the outside of oranges, melons and squash can be transferred to the knives that cut them and then straight to the parts that you will be eating.
- Gently rub fruits and vegetables under running water. Don't use any soaps, detergents, bleaches or other toxic cleaning chemicals. These chemicals will leave a residue of their own on your produce.
- Firmer fruits and vegetables like apples and potatoes can be scrubbed with a vegetable brush while rinsing with clean water to remove dirt and residue.
- Remove and discard the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage heads and thoroughly rinse the rest of the leaves.
- Rinse berries and other small fruits thoroughly and allow them to drain in a colander.
Remember that the fruits and vegetables you buy may look clean when you pick them out at the grocery store, but you can't see bacteria or chemicals. Your fruits and vegetables still need to be washed before you eat them or serve them to guests or family members. This is especially important for produce and greens that are eaten raw.
Storing Freshly Cut Fruits and Vegetables
Refrigerate fresh fruits and vegetables within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut fruits and vegetables should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours. Prevent fruits and vegetables that have been peeled or cut from coming into direct contact with raw meat, poultry or fish.
Proper Storage Techniques for Fresh Produce
Only in the Refrigerator, Never at Room Temperature to Avoid Spoilage: apples, artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, blueberries, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, Belgian endives, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, sweet corn, cranberries, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger roots, grapes, fresh herbs, leeks, lettuce and other greens, mushrooms, green onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, pineapples, new potatoes, radishes, raspberries, rhubarbs, strawberries, squash, citrus fruits, turnips.
At Room Temperature until Ripe and then in the Refrigerator: apricots, avocados, kiwifruit, mangoes, melons, nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes.
Only at Room Temperature and Preferably not in the Refrigerator: bananas, garlic, globe onions, mature potatoes, pumpkins, rutabagas, sweet potatoes.