In my last post, I shared some fun and different ways to encourage kids to eat veggies, as well as some telling research on national veggie consumption and plate waste (scary yet interesting!). In part one of this two post series, I’m going a step further and really delving into the suggestion of juicing veggies with kids. I’m excited to explore this topic with you because I know the benefits of juicing firsthand. Juicing veggies (in addition to maintaining a healthy diet) has had a positive impact on my health over the last few years. I’ve also heard many health related juicing stories from family, fellow bloggers and juice bar baristas (what can I say, I like to chat and make new friends).
I know as a parent you may be hesitating at this point and thinking, “Whaaattt? Juicing veggies. That’s crazy. I can’t even get my kids to eat veggies without making a face. Now they are supposed to drink them?”
That’s a great point and we are going to address it all. In this post, I touch on kids & their taste buds and the benefits of juicing as a family. In my next post, I’ll explain how to get started and share specific tips for juicing with kids.
Kids and their Taste Buds
Before diving into the benefits of juicing veggies with kids and how to get started, it's important to understand kids and their taste buds.
Believe it or not, there’s a reason why they make a face when they eat raw leafy greens or drink green juice. It’s not personal although our ego tells us differently.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia has been researching the science behind taste for the last forty-five years. Dr. Julie Mennella, a biologist who studies the sense of taste in babies and toddlers explained it simply in an article by National Geographic. She said that, “Babies are born preferring sweet.” Mennella explained that it’s innate in human beings to prefer sweet, since human breast milk contains lactose, a sugar. Conversely, humans are born with an aversion to bitter foods which are associated with toxins that plants evolved to keep from being eaten. Kale must have been a favorite back then!
Jokes aside, children’s love of sugar is biological. The Monell Chemical Senses Center has even found that kids prefer much more intense sweetness and saltiness than adults do. They also found that kids may be more sensitive to bitter taste than adults are. On a side note, I learned in the article that our tongues have just one or two types of receptor for sweet while at least twenty-four different ones for bitter!
While kids have an expected resistance to nourishing but bitter foods, there’s still hope!
Our inborn tastes are not set in stone. Mennella’s research has shown that foods can be overcome through exposure especially at a young age; Babies’ flavor preferences are affected by their mother’s diet during pregnancy and by their own diet after birth. She advised that parents set good examples and not give up on introducing children to different vegetables, as this plays a role in whether they will be enjoyed in the adult years.
So the burden falls on our shoulders. No pressure.
This is where both encouraging kids to eat veggies and juicing come into play, because exposure is key!
At this point, you may be wondering, "Why not just eat veggies? What’s so great about juicing?"
Juicing veggies, in addition to eating whole and raw veggies regularly, has some added perks. However, juicing should not be seen as a substitute to eating fruits and veggies.
Benefits of Juicing Veggies
Below, I share a few reasons to get on board the juicing train and start juicing veggies with your kids.
Packed with Nutrition
Raw veggies are packed with vitamins and minerals (check out these FDA downladable charts with nutrition facts). Juicing instead of cooking veggies retains most of that nutrition.
In addition, leafy greens are packed with chlorophyll (a green pigment found in all plants, algae and blue-green algae). Remarkably, the molecular structure of chlorophyll is very similar to that of human blood. As explained in an article by Food Matters: “Studies show that when chlorophyll is consumed, the production of hemoglobin in blood is increased. Higher amounts of hemoglobin in the bloodstream means more oxygen-rich blood, the first and most important element that cells need to thrive.” Basically, chlorophyll rocks.
Easy to Drink
Simply put, it’s easier to juice a cucumber, an apple, several stalks of celery & kale and drink it vs. eating all those items in one sitting; It can be very filling to eat a large quantity of raw and fibrous veggies.
Because juices are so easy to drink, you’ll also feel the benefits from juicing within days and weeks. The body absorbs all those extra nutrients and vitamins very quickly.
Juicing basically ensures that you’re getting enough nutrition from veggies in an easy and quick way before a meal or as a snack. Perfect for your kids who aren’t big eaters.
Health Benefits for the Whole Family
Juicing (and eating) a large quantity of veggies has many proven health benefits. So while you are helping the kids get their required veggie amounts, you are also helping yourself too.
As cited by Harvard School of Public Health, “a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check” (the research is pretty cool).
Also, as mentioned previously, the foods kids are exposed to at a young age, influences their eating habits as adults. Not only are you making kids healthy now, but by exposing kids to veggies often, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of good eating.
In my next post, I share tips on what to look for in a juicer and how to get started juicing veggies (and drinking them) with kids.
Keep well, S