Cool, smooth, and refreshing, homemade juices or ‘juicing’ have gotten quite popular throughout the last decade. Not to mention that juices are often promoted as a health food, due in part to their naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
While the safety profile of store-bought juices is fairly straightforward, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to home juicing.
Contrary to commercially available fresh and unpasteurized juices, juicing at home can be done during pregnancy so long as safety is kept top of mind. Washing all of the fruits and veggies you plan to juice, even those getting peeled, is the best way to avoid foodborne illness.
Accidently food poisoning is always a risk with fresh fruits and vegetables, especially juice. I’ll break down the science behind how homemade juice is safe, plus give you some additional methods to take food safety a step further.
Is Juicing Good For You if You’re Pregnant?
It is no secret that craft and fresh-squeezed juices can get expensive. Fresh, unpasteurized juices are also not recommended or safe during pregnancy, as they carry a risk of foodborne illness. Naturally, many women turn to juicing at home, especially whilst pregnant.
There are two main ways to make homemade juice. The first is hand-squeezed or with the help of a citrus reamer. The second method, which tends to be easier and allows for juicing a wider variety of produce is a dedicated juicing machine- also known as a juicer. Both methods produce fresh, unpasteurized juice.
While unpasteurized juice has traditionally been thought of as off-limits during pregnancy, homemade juices can be safer (source: FDA). The reason that unpasteurized juices are advised against during pregnancy is that bacteria can migrate into the fresh juice from the outside of improperly washed produce.
Without the addition of heat from pasteurization, the bacteria are able to continue growing in the juice.
By making the juice yourself, you are in control of the cleanliness and can better ensure food safety starting with properly washed fruits and veggies.
Often promoted as healthy food, there are a few key nutrients from whole fruits that are missing from their liquid counterpart. The juicing process separates produce into juice and pulp, nearly eliminating the beneficial fiber. This fiber is what helps prevent constipation, all too common during pregnancy.
Some vitamins and minerals are also lost during juicing since produce skins and pulp store many of these nutrients.
Not all is lost, however! Antioxidants, phytonutrients, and certain vitamins and minerals make it into the final juiced product. For example, in equal portions of orange slices and 100% orange juice, the juice contained just as much magnesium, potassium, and folate as the orange slices (source: Advances in Nutrition).
If you’re looking for a cold and refreshing drink without losing any nutrients, smoothies are a good alternative. Made in a blender, smoothies keep the pulp in the mix and so they retain the full fiber benefits of whole fruits and veggies. The same food safety guidelines apply to smoothies as well.
Is Home Juicing Safe When Pregnant?
Unlike commercially available pressed juices and other so-called ‘detox’ drinks, homemade juice can definitely be made safely while pregnant, so long as food safety stays at the top of mind.
Because homemade juice (and even smoothies) will not have been pasteurized to destroy any bacteria present, it is important to thoroughly wash all produce before you juice it- even if you plan to peel it before juicing.
You can also boil your fresh juice briefly, heating to around 160°F for 1 minute, to pasteurize (source: BC Centre for Disease Control).
For more information on thorough washing and how to keep fresh fruits and veggies pregnancy-safe, check out our guide to Washing Vegetables, Salad, & Fruit During Pregnancy.
If you are using a juicer machine, it is also important to thoroughly clean all of the parts between uses. These machines typically have many removable parts, creating an abundance of nooks and crannies that can hide bacteria. Wash with hot, soapy water and a brush to clean hard-to-reach places.
Is Juicing Safe in Early Pregnancy / The First Trimester?
Many women wonder whether juicing is safe during the first trimester as this can be an especially sensitive time in a baby’s growth and development. Not to mention that some women may not even know they are pregnant!
Homemade juices can be safe during any stage of pregnancy, including the first trimester. Taking the steps listed out above to keep your kitchen, juicer, and produce clean is key to ensuring the juice you make is safe for both you and your baby.
Foodborne illness can be serious during all points of pregnancy, and so it is essential to make sure you are preparing your homemade juice safely and cleaning thoroughly.
If you accidentally drink unpasteurized juice while pregnant, including during early pregnancy, monitor yourself for any symptoms of illness such as:
- nausea or abdominal cramping
- and muscle aches (other than those associated with pregnancy, of course)
(source: March of Dimes).
Juicing While Pregnant Recipes
Juices come in all colors, and they are not just limited to fruits anymore either. Adding in some veggies or switching up your usual recipe is a good way to up your nutritional variety and include a wider range of nutrients.
Do be sure to check with your medical provider about any limitations, as some fruit juices, like grapefruit, can interact with certain medications.
- If you like orange juice: Try a blend of ginger, grapefruit, and blood orange
- For maximum fall vibes: Try orange, apple, ginger, and carrot. Add beets for a purple twist.
- If you like green smoothies: Try cucumber, celery, greens (kale or spinach), lemon, and apple
- If morning sickness is getting you down: Try lemon, orange, and ginger
If you juice regularly, it’s likely you’ll end up with an abundance of pulp. As I mentioned earlier, the pulp is full of vitamins and minerals, so don’t throw this away! Try adding the pulp to muffin batter- carrot pulp works especially well to make carrot cake muffins!
If baking with pulp is not for you, juicer pulp is just as nutritious for your plants and garden. Sprinkle in the soil around your plants for a homemade take on fertilizer. Good for you and the planet.
Whether you prefer fruits, veggies, or a colorful mix of both, juicing at home can still be a (safe) part of your pregnancy diet. Hopefully, you have found this article useful to clear up any confusion about the safety of homemade juice compared to its store-bought counterpart.