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However, if you're new to juicing, you may find it difficult to determine which vegetables to choose.
Here are the 12 best vegetables to juice to improve your overall health.
Kale is a versatile leafy green with a mild flavor that pairs well with other fruits and veggies in juices.
This power-packed ingredient is a great source of several key nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K (1).
Raw kale is also especially high in antioxidants, including beta-carotene.
Antioxidants neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals to help protect against conditions like heart disease (2Trusted Source). In fact, drinking kale juice has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors, including LDL (bad) cholesterol.
One study in 32 men with high cholesterol levels found that drinking 5 ounces (150 ml) of kale juice daily for 3 months reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol by 10% and boosted heart-protective HDL cholesterol by 27% (3Trusted Source).
Kale is high in several important nutrients, including beta-carotene and vitamins A, C, and K. Plus, it has been shown to improve heart disease risk factors.
Due to their slightly sweet flavor and impressive nutrient profile, carrots are a perfect choice for juicing.
What's more, they're loaded with carotenoids, which are plant pigments that work as powerful antioxidants in your body. These include beta-carotene, lycopene, alpha-carotene, and lutein (5Trusted Source).
Studies show that eating a diet rich in carotenoids may be linked to a lower risk of degenerative eye diseases, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, including of the prostate (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
The sweetness of carrot juice combines well with other commonly juiced vegetables and fruits, such as citrus fruits, ginger, and beets.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, biotin, and potassium. They're also high in carotenoids, which may be linked to a lower risk of eye disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
In addition to their vibrant color and earthy flavor, beets add a host of health benefits to your daily juice.
In terms of nutrition, beets are packed with manganese, potassium, and folate (10).
They're also high in nitrates, a type of natural plant compound with powerful health effects.
Not only do beets make a delicious addition to juices but also their leafy green tops — called beet greens — are highly nutritious and can be juiced as well (14).
Beets are a good source of manganese, potassium, folate, and nitrates, which may help lower blood pressure and improve athletic performance and brain health.
Cabbage may not seem like an obvious choice for juicing, but it's a nutritious and delicious ingredient that works well in juices.
It's also classified as a cruciferous vegetable and closely related to other veggies like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Cabbage is high in vitamins K and C along with many other nutrients. As a cruciferous vegetable, it may help protect against diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that brings a mild, fresh flavor to smoothies and juices.
Spinach is also rich in nitrates, which can benefit heart health (21Trusted Source).
One study in 27 people found that consuming spinach for 7 days significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers of a reading). High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease (22Trusted Source).
Spinach is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants and nitrates. It may reduce blood pressure and have antacid effects.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that's been tied to various impressive health benefits.
In particular, it's an excellent source of key micronutrients, such as potassium and vitamins A, B6, and C (24).
It also contains kaempferol, a powerful compound that has been shown to neutralize disease-causing free radicals, decrease inflammation, and reduce cancer cell growth in test-tube studies (25Trusted Source).
What's more, a recent study in 960 people noted that eating one serving per day of green vegetables rich in kaempferol and other antioxidants may slow age-related mental decline (26Trusted Source).
Toss broccoli heads and stems into your juicer for a nutritious addition to your green juice recipe.
Broccoli is rich in potassium and vitamins A, B6, and C. It also packs several antioxidants like kaempferol, which may decrease cancer growth, inflammation, and mental decline.
Often dismissed as little more than an herb and garnish for cooking, parsley is a great vegetable to use for juicing.
In one study, giving rats with diabetes parsley extract significantly decreased blood sugar and improved blood antioxidant levels, compared with a control group (28Trusted Source).
Parsley contains vitamins K, A, and C. In animal studies, it's been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, improve antioxidant status, and protect liver function.
They're also low in calories yet high in potassium, manganese, and vitamins K and C (30).
In addition, test-tube research shows that cucumber extract may help reduce inflammation in skin cells. This makes cucumber juice an excellent choice after days spent in the sun (32Trusted Source).
Cucumbers are high in potassium, manganese, and vitamins K and C. They can also help keep you hydrated and may reduce skin inflammation.
9. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with key vitamins and minerals.
In a 45-day study, feeding Swiss chard extract to rats with high blood sugar reduced the elevated levels by increasing antioxidant status and altering the activity of enzymes that control insulin, a blood-sugar-regulating hormone (38Trusted Source).
You can add Swiss chard to just about any juice or use it in place of more common leafy greens, such as kale and spinach.
Swiss chard is high in vitamins A and C. Animal studies suggest that it may help reduce blood sugar levels and increase antioxidant status.
Wheatgrass is an edible grass that's often considered one of the most popular vegetables for juicing.
It's an incredibly nutrient-dense ingredient and supplies a significant amount of iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and copper, along with 17 different amino acids — the building blocks of proteins (39Trusted Source).
What's more, one study in 59 women found that supplementing with wheatgrass powder for 10 weeks significantly reduced triglyceride and cholesterol levels, improving heart health (43Trusted Source).
Wheatgrass juice can be enjoyed on its own as a shot or added to any juice for a nutritional boost.
Wheatgrass is an edible grass that contains 17 amino acids, along with iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and chlorophyll. One study found that it may promote heart health by decreasing triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Celery juice has started to gain traction in the health world — and for good reason.
Many people like to drink celery juice on its own, but it can also be combined with the juice of lemons, apples, ginger, and leafy greens for a tasty beverage.
Celery contains vitamins A, K, and C, as well as several antioxidants. Animal and test-tube studies show that celery extract may decrease inflammation and reduce blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels.
Tomatoes are a kitchen staple and great for using in your juicer.
They're not only low in calories but also brimming with essential nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and folate (50).
Pair tomatoes with celery, cucumber, and parsley for a refreshing, healthy juice.
Tomatoes have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folate, and lycopene.
The Bottom Line
You can juice a wide variety of vegetables, each providing a unique set of nutrients and health benefits.
Try mixing and matching veggies from the list above to squeeze different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your diet.
You can also combine these vegetables with fruits to further dial up the flavor and health benefits.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
You generally want to avoid certain foods if you want to lose weight and prevent chronic illnesses.
In this article, healthy alternatives are mentioned whenever possible.
Here are 20 foods that are generally unhealthy — although most people can eat them in moderation on special occasions without any permanent damage to their health.
1. Sugary Drinks
Added sugar is one of the worst ingredients in the modern diet.
However, some sources of sugar are worse than others, and sugary drinks are particularly harmful.
When you drink liquid calories, your brain doesn't appear to register them as food. Thus, you may end up drastically increasing your total calorie intake (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
When consumed in large amounts, sugar can drive insulin resistance and is strongly linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It's also associated with various serious conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Drink water, soda water, coffee, or tea instead. Adding a slice of lemon to water or soda water can provide a burst of flavor.
2. Most Pizzas
Pizza is one of the world's most popular junk foods.
Most commercial pizzas are made with unhealthy ingredients, including highly refined dough and heavily processed meat. Pizza also tends to be extremely high in calories.
Some restaurants offer healthier ingredients. Homemade pizzas can also be very healthy, as long as you choose wholesome ingredients.
3. White Bread
Most commercial breads are unhealthy if eaten in large amounts, as they're made from refined wheat, which is low in fiber and essential nutrients and may lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar (10).
For people who can tolerate gluten, Ezekiel bread is an excellent choice. Whole-grain bread is also healthier than white bread.
If you have problems with gluten or carbs, then here are 15 recipes for breads that are both gluten-free and low in carbs.
4. Most Fruit Juices
Fruit juice is often assumed to be healthy.
While juice contains some antioxidants and vitamin C, it also packs high amounts of liquid sugar.
In fact, fruit juice harbors just as much sugar as sugary drinks like Coke or Pepsi — and sometimes even more (11Trusted Source).
Some fruit juices have been shown to have health benefits despite their sugar content, such as pomegranate and blueberry juices.
However, these should be considered occasional supplements, not an everyday part of your diet.
5. Sweetened Breakfast Cereals
Breakfast cereals are processed cereal grains, such as wheat, oats, rice, and corn.
They're especially popular among children and frequently eaten with milk.
To make them more palatable, the grains are roasted, shredded, pulped, rolled, or flaked. They're generally high in added sugar.
The main downside of most breakfast cereals is their high added sugar content. Some are so sweet that they could even be compared to candy.
Choose breakfast cereals that are high in fiber and low in added sugar. Even better, make your own oat porridge from scratch.
6. Fried, Grilled or Broiled Food
Frying, grilling, and broiling are among the unhealthiest cooking methods.
Foods cooked in these ways are often highly palatable and calorie-dense. Several types of unhealthy chemical compounds also form when food is cooked under high heat.
These include acrylamides, acrolein, heterocyclic amines, oxysterols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
To improve your health, choose milder and healthier cooking methods, such as boiling, stewing, blanching, and steaming.
7. Pastries, Cookies and Cakes
Most pastries, cookies, and cakes are unhealthy if eaten in excess.
Packaged versions are generally made with refined sugar, refined wheat flour, and added fats. Shortening, which may be high in unhealthy trans fats, is sometimes added.
These treats might be tasty, but they have almost no essential nutrients, copious calories, and many preservatives.
If you can't stay away from dessert, spring for Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, or dark chocolate.
8. French Fries and Potato Chips
Whole, white potatoes are very healthy.
However, the same cannot be said of French fries and potato chips.
Potatoes are best consumed boiled, not fried. If you need something crunchy to replace potato chips, try baby carrots or nuts.
9. Gluten-Free Junk Foods
Yet, people often replace healthy, gluten-containing foods with processed junk foods that happen to be gluten-free.
These gluten-free replacement products are often high in sugar and refined grains like corn starch or tapioca starch. These ingredients may trigger rapid spikes in blood sugar and are low in essential nutrients.
Choose foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as unprocessed plant and animal foods.
10. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is a sweetener that's often marketed as healthy.
However, it's highly refined and extremely high in fructose. High amounts of fructose from added sweeteners can be absolutely disastrous for health (26Trusted Source).
In fact, agave nectar is even higher in fructose than many other sweeteners.
Whereas table sugar is 50% fructose and high-fructose corn syrup around 55%, agave nectar is 85% fructose (27Trusted Source).
Stevia and erythritol are healthy, natural, and calorie-free alternatives.
11. Low-Fat Yogurt
Yogurt can be incredibly healthy.
Nonetheless, most yogurts found in the grocery store are bad for you.
They're often low in fat but loaded with sugar to compensate for the flavor that fat provides. Put simply, most yogurt has had its healthy, natural fats replaced with an unhealthy ingredient.
Additionally, many yogurts don't provide probiotic bacteria as generally believed. They're often pasteurized, which kills most of their bacteria.
Choose regular, full-fat yogurt that contains live or active cultures (probiotics). If possible, buy varieties from grass-fed cows.
12. Low-Carb Junk Foods
Low-carb diets are very popular.
While you can eat plenty of whole foods on such a diet, you should watch out for processed low-carb replacement products. These include low-carb candy bars and meal replacements.
These foods are often highly processed and packed with additives.
If you're on a low-carb diet, aim for foods that are naturally low in carbs, which include eggs, seafood, and leafy greens.
13. Ice Cream
Ice cream may be delicious, but it's loaded with sugar.
This dairy product is also high in calories and easy to overeat. If you eat it as a dessert, you're usually piling it on top of your normal calorie intake.
It's possible to opt for healthier brands or make your own ice cream using fresh fruit and less sugar.
14. Candy Bars
Candy bars are incredibly unhealthy.
They're high in sugar, refined wheat flour, and processed fats while also very low in essential nutrients.
What's more, these treats will leave you hungry because of the way that your body metabolizes these sugar bombs.
15. Processed Meat
Even though unprocessed meat can be healthy and nutritious, the same is not true for processed meats.
Most of these studies are observational in nature, meaning that they can't prove that processed meat is to blame. However, the statistical link is strong and consistent between studies.
If you want to eat bacon, sausages, or pepperoni, try to buy from local butchers who don't add many unhealthy ingredients.
16. Processed Cheese
Cheese is healthy in moderation.
It's loaded with nutrients, and a single slice packs all the nutrients as a glass of milk.
Still, processed cheese products are nothing like regular cheese. They're mostly made with filler ingredients that are engineered to have a cheese-like appearance and texture.
Make sure to read labels to confirm that your cheese contains dairy and few artificial ingredients.
Eat real cheese instead. Healthy types include feta, mozzarella, and cottage cheeses. Many vegan cheese alternatives can also be good choices.
17. Most Fast Food Meals
Generally speaking, fast-food chains serve junk food.
Most of their offerings are mass-produced and low in nutrients.
Despite their low prices, fast foods may contribute to disease risk and harm your general wellness. You should especially watch out for fried items.
As a result of mounting pressure, many fast-food chains have started offering healthy options.
18. High-Calorie Coffee Drinks
Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and offers many benefits.
At the same time, the creamers, syrups, additives, and sugars that are frequently added to coffee are highly unhealthy.
These products are just as harmful as any other sugar-sweetened beverage.
Drink plain coffee instead. You can add small amounts of heavy cream or full-fat milk if you desire.
19. Anything With Added Sugar or Refined Grains
It's important to avoid — or at least limit — foods that contain added sugar, refined grains, and artificial trans fats.
These are some of the unhealthiest but most common ingredients in the modern diet. Thus, the importance of reading labels cannot be overstated.
This even applies to so-called health foods.
Aim for nutrient-dense, whole foods, such as fresh fruits and whole grains.
20. Most Highly Processed Foods
The simplest way to eat healthy and lose weight is to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Processed goods are often packaged and loaded with excess salt or sugar.
When you're shopping, make sure to read food labels. Try to load up your cart with plenty of veggies and other whole foods.
The Bottom Line
Though the Western diet packs plenty of junk food, you can maintain a healthy diet if you steer clear of the processed, high-sugar items mentioned above.
If you focus on whole foods, you'll be well on your way to feeling better and reclaiming your health.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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