I've been talking about juicing for fitness folks quite a bit and if you've been visiting my blog or reading my newsletters then you understand all of the reasons why I firmly believe that juicing is one of the best nutritional tools you can have in your muscle-building and fat-loss arsenal.
But now that you do know, which vegetables do you think are the most important or beneficial for you to start juicing? These are just some of the few found in Vince Del Monte’s and Drew Canole’s brand new recipe guide, Get Juiced: 101 Muscle-Charging Juicing Recipes.
Let's dive into it, ready?
All vegetables are good for you and each one contains different micronutrients that you need to get healthy and build muscle. That said, there are some vegetables that should absolutely be included on your juicing menu. These vegetables provide so much of the really essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that they are invaluable to your bodybuilding goals.
Here are my top 10 juicing vegetables for fitness folks, in no particular order:
Dark, leafy greens are some of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet and spinach is a superstar among dark, leafy greens. It’s loaded with iron and packed with Vitamin C. It’s essential that you get enough Vitamin C in your diet every day in order to strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, burn stored fat and fuel cell repair.
Fresh spinach is inexpensive, produces a plentiful supply of juice and is pretty mild-tasting as a juice too. If spinach is a little bitter or plain for your taste, add half of one pear or apple to your ingredients to sweeten it up a bit.
Carrots are a juicer’s dream. The juice they give you is surprisingly sweet, which is great for those of you that prefer a sweeter taste to your juice but are trying to cut back on the fruit. Carrots are also loaded with antioxidants, particularly beta-carotene. Most people associate carotenoids with eye health, but they’re also extremely important to cardiovascular health. A recent study showed that the yellow/orange group of vegetables was the most effective in preventing cardiovascular disease, and in that group, carrots were the most beneficial. Carotenoids are also important to fitness folks because they not only reduce oxidative stress, but can repair oxidative damage to the body.
Carrots also contain polyacetylenes, another phytonutrient, which has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. You young guys may not be worried about colon cancer at the moment, but the time to prevent it is long before you’re “old enough” to get it.
Beets are another vegetable that has a satisfyingly sweeter flavor, but their taste is just one of the many benefits to fitness folks. Beets contain a hefty supply of a very important group of phytonutrients called betalains, particularly the betalains betanin and vulgaxanthin. These two workhorses have been widely studied and shown to be extremely effective at aiding liver detoxification and reducing inflammation.
It’s important to know that these betalains are extremely unstable and that you can lose up to 25% of the betalain content of beets by cooking them. This is one of the great benefits about juicing; you consume the vegetables raw which means you get all of their nutrient content without losing a bunch of it to heat degradation.
Most people think of parsley simply as a garnish that you ignore when you are eating out. But parsley has been seriously undervalued. It has a ton of folic acid and several other antioxidants that can help to prevent damage to your body’s cells from certain free radicals known as oxygen radicals. Free radicals can cause inflammation and hormonal imbalances that slow muscle gain and virtually stop fat loss.
A couple of smaller benefits of parsley are that it’s very cheap, it helps keep your breath fresh and can even reduce body odor.
Kale is one of the most important vegetables you can juice in regards to fighting oxidative stress and inflammation. There are more than 45 flavonoids in kale, including kaempferol and quercetin, which are especially effective against inflammation.
Kale is also an excellent source of isothiocyanates, made from glucosinolates, which play a really important role in lowering the risk of several cancers, including colon and prostate cancer.
You may be used to thinking of celery as something you only eat for the fiber and negative net calorie content, but there has been a lot of important research on celery in the last several years that shows celery to be a huge weapon against inflammation.
The polysaccharides in celery, especially apiuman, are particularly good at repairing and preventing inflammation in the digestive tract. This is very important for fitness folks. If your digestive tract is loaded with toxins and waste and suffers from chronic inflammation, you’re on your way to becoming malnourished. Micronutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. If that intestine is compromised, you won’t be absorbing the majority of the micronutrients you’re eating. That lack of nutrients means hormonal imbalances, blood sugar issues and slowed muscle growth and muscle recovery.
Cucumbers are another vegetable that doesn’t usually come to mind when you think of nutrient density, but they’re undervalued as well. Cucumbers are loaded with lignans, which are a specific group of polyphenols, which have been shown to fight colon cancer.
They are also packed with several antioxidants that inhibit certain enzymes that promote inflammation and oxidative stress.
Another great thing about juicing with cucumbers is that they are loaded with water and very mild-tasting, so they’re great to throw in with stronger-tasting vegetables like kale, mustard greens and spinach. If at all possible, buy organic cucumbers (even organic they are very cheap) so that you can juice them with the skin on. A lot of the antioxidants in cucumbers are contained in the skin.
8. Romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce is packed with some of the most important micronutrients you need. It’s an excellent source of both beta-carotene and Vitamin C and when those two work together, they can help lower bad cholesterol. Romaine is also a great source of both folic acid and potassium.
Romaine can be a little bit bitter on its own, but when combined with beets, carrots, apples or pears, it tastes great. This should definitely be one of your “go-to” greens for your greens drinks.
Swiss chard is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can eat. It’s loaded with a huge variety of antioxidants, but there are also specific flavonoids in Swiss chard that can also help regulate blood sugar. Swiss chard is a great source of a flavonoid called syringic acid, which inhibits an enzyme called alpha-glycosidase. Alpha-glycosidase breaks carbs down into simple sugars. When it’s inhibited, fewer carbs are turned into sugar and blood sugar levels are lowered.
High blood sugar is a serious problem for fitness folks, as it causes more insulin to be released into the bloodstream, which prompts the body to store fat.
Broccoli is one of the best vegetables you can juice to help detoxify your body. Broccoli is one of the few vegetables that contain the combination of three glucosinolates called glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin. Taken together, these glucosinolates kick some serious butt when it comes to detoxifying the liver. A healthier liver means better hormone production and secretion, including production of testosterone.
Broccoli doesn’t give much juice, but you don’t need much of it to reap the detox benefits. Just toss a spear in with a greens drink or with carrot, beet or cucumber juices.
When it comes to juicing, any vegetable you add to your drinks is a good one. These ten just happen to have specific micronutrients or such a huge supply of micronutrients that I consider them the top 10. However, you really can’t go wrong with any fresh vegetable, especially if it’s organic, locally grown and in season, so that you get the maximum nutrients into your juice.
Ready to start juicing the right away?