By Darla Ferrara
There is little doubt that vegetables are promote good health. Eating them can also help you cut calorie consumption and fight disease. A green health drink is one you prepare at home, combing fruits and vegetables using a blender, or it can refer to powdered mixes prepared commercially. Both raw vegetables and green juice will add essential nutrients to your diet. But talk to your doctor before you make any dietary changes.
How many servings of vegetables you should eat each day will depend on a number of factors. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, an individual who maintains a calorie intake of 2,000 per day should have as many as five servings of vegetables daily. One thing that green beverages and raw vegetables have in common is both their nutrients count. If you are drinking your vegetables, one serving should be at least 6 oz; for raw vegetables, a 1/2 cup suffices. If the fresh vegetable is a light green color, like lettuce, instead of dark raise a serving to 1 cup.
Fiber is a critical component in a healthy diet, improving digestion and lowering blood cholesterol. Fresh vegetables provide roughage, or bulk, which is another name for fiber that helps to clean the intestinal tract. When it moves through the body, it works like a broom. Green health drinks may not provide significant amounts of much-needed fiber compared with raw vegetables. The potential lack of fiber in a green heath drink is a big drawback. For this reason, Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., from the Mayo Clinic, suggests you avoid getting into the habit of only drinking liquid vegetable juices for your daily veggie servings.
Carotenoids are pigments found in vegetables and fruits. Research shows they may help fight illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. More studies need to be done to understand the full benefits of carotenoids, but you can identify their presence in foods by their characteristic yellow-orange color. One 1999 study conducted by the University of California concluded certain carotenoids were better absorbed from juice than from raw vegetables.
You can’t go wrong increasing the vegetable servings in your diet. If you prefer to blend your own health juices from vegetables, that is fine. Ideally, you should combine the drinks with some other forms of vegetables too. If you are concerned about how raw vegetables affect you, talk to your doctor; some people find that they can cause digestive problems. But if you stick mostly to green health drinks, make sure you increase your dietary fiber in other ways. Add more grains to your meals, for example.