By Dr. Mercola
There's little doubt that one of the best ways to improve your health is to make sure you're eating plenty of fresh, minimally processed high-quality vegetables, ideally locally-grown and organic, with a majority of them consumed raw (see my recommended list of vegetables below). One simple way to boost your vegetable intake is to juice them.
Juicing organic vegetables is highly recommended to patients in our clinic who are working to restore or improve their health. I am firmly convinced that juicing is one of the key factors to giving you a radiant, energetic life, and truly optimal health. I simply do not know of any other single nutritional intervention that has a more profound influence on health than eating and/or juicing fresh, organic vegetables.
You can review my comprehensive approach to how to juice on my vegetable juicing page. Even better, review my nutrition plan, which can help you take a comprehensive look at your overall health as it relates to food, and may even help you to change the way you think about eating.
Are All Vegetables the Same?
If you were to get all of your vegetables from conventionally farmed sources, this would be better for your health than eating no fresh vegetables at all. However, conventionally farmed vegetables are not your best choice. Organic vegetables are a much better option.
USDA Organic farmers (and many small, local organic farms working without certification) must use different standards when growing vegetables. These standards include never using:
- Synthetic Fertilizers
- Sewage sludge
- Genetically modified organisms (GMO)
- Ionizing radiation
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic, and most are damaging to your nervous system as well. In fact, these powerful and dangerous chemicals have been linked to numerous health problems such as:
Neurotoxicity Disruption of your endocrine system Carcinogenicity Immune system suppression Male infertility and reduced reproductive function Parkinson's disease
This information alone should give you pause when considering whether to buy local, organic vegetables or not. But I encourage you to do further research about organic versus conventional farming conditions. I believe that after researching the facts and statistics, you'll come to the conclusion that organic vegetables are far more nutritious than conventionally farmed vegetables.
Conventional Fruit and Vegetable Pesticide Loads
Certainly helpful to your decision about which vegetables should be purchased organic and which conventional veggies may be safe, is the measured pesticide loads found on conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables. So if you need to work within a certain budget, use this information to help guide you to the best choices when it comes to lowering your overall pesticide exposure.
Of the 43 different fruit and vegetable categories tested by the Environmental Working Group and included in their Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce, the following 12 fruits and vegetables had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy or grow organically:
Sweet bell peppers
Cherries Lettuce Grapes (imported) Pears Spinach Potatoes
In contrast, the following foods were found to have the lowest residual pesticide load, making them the safest bet among conventionally grown vegetables:
Sweet peas (frozen)
Mango Pineapple Sweet corn (frozen) Avocado Onion
The Importance of Fresh Vegetables
Buying your vegetables from a local organic source is the ideal way to ensure that your vegetables are both fresh and high-quality. I strongly advise you to avoid wilted vegetables of any kind, because when vegetables wilt, they lose much of their nutritional value. In fact, wilted organic vegetables may actually be less healthful than fresh conventionally farmed vegetables!
Another reason to buy your organic vegetables from a local source is that fresher vegetables also contain the highest amounts of biophotons.
What are the Biophotons?
Biophotons are the smallest physical units of light, which are stored in and used by all biological organisms – including your body. Dr. Fritz-Albert Popp was the first to suggest that this light inside all biological organisms must originate, at least in part, from the foods you eat. When you eat plant foods, the light waves (photons) are thought assimilate into the cells in your body. The purpose of these biophotons is much more important than many have realized, because they are the transmitters of important nutritional bio-information used in many complex vital processes in your body.
Every living organism emits biophotons, or low-level luminescence (light with a wavelength between 200 and 800 nanometers). It is thought that the higher the level of light energy a cell emits, the greater the vitality and potential for the transfer of light energy to your body. In other words, the more light a food is able to store, the more nutritious it is when you consume it. Fresh, organic vegetables are naturally rich in this biophoton light energy.
Illness Can Occur When Biophoton Emissions are Out of Sync
Research by Dr. Popp also showed that the light emissions of healthy people follow a set of biological rhythms by day and night, and also by week and month. However, in his studies, the light emissions from cancer patients had no such rhythms and appeared scrambled, which suggests that their cells were no longer communicating properly. Likewise, according to Dr. Popp's research, multiple sclerosis patients were taking in too much light, leading to what he considered confusion on a cellular level.
Even stress can influence your biophoton emissions, causing them to increase when stress increases. It's also known that cancer-causing chemicals alter your body's biophoton emissions, interrupting proper cellular communication, while certain natural substances can help to restore proper cellular communication.
For instance, Dr. Popp found that mistletoe appeared to restore biophoton emissions of tumor cells to a normal level! Interestingly, even conventional medicine confirmed that mistletoe extract does appear to have a beneficial effect on cancer1, with one study2 published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine showing that mean survival rates nearly doubled among breast cancer patients who received mistletoe extract.
An Important Tip for Gathering Valuable Light Energy
As regular readers know, I've long recommended raw food diet to stay optimally healthy. This is because living raw foods have the highest biophoton energy. The greater your store of light energy from healthy raw foods (this should not be confused with your vitamin D status, which is produced by the sun on your skin), the greater the power of your overall electromagnetic field, and consequently the more energy is available for healing and maintenance of optimal health.
I firmly believe it's only a matter of time before the importance of light energy in your health and well-being becomes more widely recognized and applied in the field of medicine. Until then, remember that your body is not only made up of tissue, blood vessels, and organs—it's also composed of light.
Reasons to Juice
As I mentioned at the beginning, one of the best ways to get ample amounts of raw vegetables into your diet is through juicing. Many people see juicing as inconvenient, but with the proper juicer, it's really not very time consuming at all. The fact is, many people initially think juicing will be a real chore, but most are pleasantly surprised to find it's much easier than they thought. There are three main reasons why you will want to consider incorporating organic vegetable juicing into your optimal health program:
- Juicing helps you absorb most of the nutrients from the vegetables. This is important because most of us have impaired digestion as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over many years. This limits your body's ability to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. Juicing will help to "pre-digest" them for you, so you will receive most of the nutrition, rather than having it go down the toilet.
- Juicing allows you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner. If you are a carb type, you should eat one pound of raw vegetables per 50 pounds of body weight per day. Some people may find eating that many vegetables difficult, but it can be easily accomplished with a quick glass of vegetable juice.
- You can add a wider variety of vegetables in your diet. Many people eat the same vegetable salads every day. This violates the principle of regular food rotation and increases your chance of developing an allergy to a certain food. But with juicing, you can juice a wide variety of vegetables that you may not normally enjoy eating whole.
Start by juicing only vegetables that you enjoy eating non-juiced. The juice should taste pleasant -- not make you feel nauseous. It is very important to listen to your body when juicing. Your stomach should feel good all morning long. If it is churning or growling or generally making its presence known, you probably juiced something you should not be eating. Personally, I've noticed that I can't juice large amounts of cabbage, but if I spread it out, I do fine.
Please review my comprehensive vegetable juicing instructions for more information. To learn more about the ins-and-outs of juicing, you can also check out my three-part interview with Cherie Calbom, aka "The Juice Lady":
What are the Best Vegetables for Good Health?
My Recommended List of Vegetables provides a guide to the most nutritious vegetables, and those to limit due to their high carbohydrate content. Remember: the greener the vegetable, the more nutritious it will be. Ideally, you'll want to juice vegetables that are appropriate for your particular nutritional type, which I'll summarize below. There is a basic test you can take to find out your nutritional type, which is detailed in my book, Take Control of Your Health. Alternatively, you can take the free online Nutritional Typing test.
As a general guide, the following list of vegetables details some of the best and worst vegetables for your health.
Highly Recommended Vegetables Asparagus Escarole Avocado (actually a fruit) Fennel Beet greens Green and red cabbage Bok Choy Kale Broccoli Kohlrabi Brussels sprouts Lettuce: romaine, red leaf, green leaf Cauliflower Mustard greens Celery Onions Chicory Parsley Chinese cabbage Peppers: red, green, yellow and hot Chives Tomatoes Collard greens Turnips Cucumbers Spinach Dandelion greens Zucchini Endive
Use sparingly due to high carbohydrate levels Beets Jicama Carrots Winter Squashes Eggplant
Vegetables to Avoid Potatoes
Tips to Make Your Juice Taste Better
If you would like to make your juice taste a bit more palatable, especially in the beginning, you can add these elements:
- Coconut: This is one of my favorites! You can purchase the whole coconut or use unsweetened shredded coconut. It adds a delightful flavor and is an excellent source of fat to balance your meal. Coconut has medium chain triglycerides, which have many health benefits. You can even add coconut water to your juice, which is an excellent natural source of electrolytes, especially potassium.
- Lemons and Limes: You can add half a lemon or lime (leaving much of the white rind on), which really brightens up the flavor of your juice.
- Cranberries: Researchers have discovered that cranberries have five times the antioxidant content of broccoli, which means they may help protect against cancer, stroke and heart disease. Limit the cranberries to about 4 ounces per pint of juice.
- Fresh ginger: This is an excellent addition if you can tolerate it. It gives your juice a little "kick"! And, as an added boon, researchers have found ginger can have dramatic benefits for cardiovascular health, including preventing atherosclerosis, lowering cholesterol levels, and preventing the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
Nutritional Typing and Juicing Vegetables
According to Nutritional Typing principles, if you are a carb type, vegetable juicing is STRONGLY recommended. With patients in our clinic, we strongly encourage carbohydrate types to juice if they expect to regain their health. If you are a mixed type, it is certainly useful to juice. However, protein types need to follow some specific guidelines to make it work for them, which I'll review below.
Do you know your nutritional type? If not, you can easily determine this by taking my free online nutritional type test.
Protein Types and Juicing Vegetables
If you are a protein type, juicing needs to be done cautiously. The only vegetables you should juice are your prime protein type vegetables, which are celery, spinach, asparagus, string beans and cauliflower (including the base).
Also, to make drinking vegetable juice compatible with protein type metabolism (which needs high amounts of fat), it is important to blend a source of raw fat into the juice. Raw cream, raw butter, raw eggs, avocado, coconut butter, or freshly ground flax seed are the sources of raw fat I most recommend. In addition to adding a source of raw fat to your juice, you may also find that adding some, or even all, of the vegetable pulp back into your juice helps make it more satisfying
Final Thoughts about Vegetables
The truth is, scientists really don't know all that much about nutrients, and taking isolated nutrients through supplements is not always a good idea. A much better way to get the vital nutrients your body needs is through eating whole, fresh organic vegetables. I recommend at least one third of your total diet be eaten raw, and a great way to do this is through incorporating juicing into your eating plan. Personally, I aim for consuming about 80 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs, dairy, and meat.
I want to emphasize that eating any vegetable is better than eating no vegetables at all, so don't get down on yourself if you're able to juice organic fresh vegetables only a few times a week. Even if you have to start slowly, I think you'll soon begin to notice positive changes to your health when you increase your fresh vegetable intake. Also, please review my complete nutrition plan, which can help you take a comprehensive look at your health as it relates to food, and may even help you change the way you think about eating.