GO GREEN:<br />
Juice Your Way to Good Health

Juicing can play role in healthy diet

I have never been one to get excited over vegetables, though, as I've gotten older, I realize that they are not only an important part of my diet, but also the missing link to much needed energy boosts. Since adding green smoothies to my morning routine, I have been able to skip coffee altogether, and have reaped the benefits of healthier skin, hair and a general outlook on life. Green smoothies are often called superfoods, and for good reason. They are full of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that your body needs to regenerate and rid itself of toxins. Adding fruits to your leafy, nutrient dense smoothies will also give you a healthy boost of sugar and curb your sugar cravings throughout the day.  Here are just a few benefits of the ingredients found in many green smoothies:

Kale: If you're not familiar with kale, you should get familiar, soon. The benefits of this vegetable are endless. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. Kale is high in fiber and an excellent source of Vitamin A, C, and K, which are essential for healthy a healthy immune system, skin and hair.  The antioxidant properties of kale are also argued to protect the body against various cancers.

Spinach: How many times did you hear "eat your spinach so that you'll be strong like Popeye" as a child? The key to that strength is iron, which spinach is full of, as well as Vitamin A, K, D, E. For people with a Vitamin D deficiency or anemia, spinach is especially beneficial. The best part about juicing rather than cooking spinach is that by juicing it, you maintain most of its nutritional properties that oftentimes get lost when prepared with heat.

Ground Flaxseed:  Flaxseed is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health, supple skin and scalp circulation. Most importantly, our bodies do not naturally produce Omega-3's, making it even more crucial for us to add to our diets. Many people with thinning hair turn to omega-3s to remedy their concerns. If you have digestive issues, flaxseed is also a great, natural laxative.

Blueberries: These contain the highest antioxidant count of any fruit, and protect the heart and liver. Blueberries have also been shown to help decrease body fat in certain studies.

Celery: An excellent diuretic, celery helps flush the body of toxins, as well as balance the body's PH level.

Apples: One apple provides up to 5 grams of fiber. They are also an excellent source of the immune-boosting Vitamin C and antioxidants. The Iowa Women’s Health Study reported that, among the 34,000-plus women it’s been tracking for nearly 20 years, apples were associated with a lower risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Other studies have shown apple's antioxidant content to help reduce the risk of stroke.

Cucumbers: With 96% water content, cucumber helps rid the body of toxins. It also contains potassium, magnesium and fiber that work effectively for regulating blood pressure.

In addition to the undeniable health benefits of juicing, another great perk is how cost-effective these ingredients are. A bundle of nutrient-rich kale and spinach cost almost the same as a grande latte at Starbucks, and will last you for a week. For those with a busy schedule, juicing is also a great way to quickly get your vegetable intake for the day.  I use a regular old blender, but there are plenty of affordable juicers on the market now.

Below are 3 easy-to-make green smoothie recipes to get you started on a path to healthier living. Start juicing your way to a healthier life. It's never too late.

ENERGY SMOOTHIE

  • 1 bunch of kale or spinach
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries
  • 1 tb. of ground flaxseed
  • 2 cups of filtered water

WEIGHT LOSS SMOOTHIE

  • 3-4 stalks organic celery
  • 1 bunch or kale or romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 pear, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 fresh  lemon juice
  • 1 tbs. of ground flaxseed
  • 2 cups of filtered water

IMMUNITY SMOOTHIE

  • 2 carrots
  • Juice of one grapefruit or orange
  • 1 apple, cut up
  • Handful of kale
  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of parsley
  • 1 tsp. of ginger
  • 2 cups of filtered water