Companion Parrots

In the Wild

Making a Difference

Parrot News

Special Thanks

Home » 2010 - Issue 1, Companion Parrots, Issue, Nutrition

The Benefits of Fresh Juices

By Leslie Morán


Photographs © Michael Bailey

Whether your parrot is curious about new foods, or highly suspicious, introducing fresh fruit and vegetable juices can be fun and have health enriching benefits for the whole family.

The primary reason to juice fresh fruits and vegetables is that juicing makes the rich array of nutrients which are present in the foods, readily available for digestion, and they are easily absorbed by the body. It has been estimated that people can assimilate fresh fruit and vegetable juices in 20 to 30 minutes. The ideal way to receive the highest nutritional benefits is to buy the produce fresh, preferably organic, juice it in your kitchen and drink it - or offer it to your birds - right away.

Because fresh home-made juices are made from raw fresh fruits and vegetables, all of the plant’s health-promoting and nutritious components remain intact. Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, plant based enzymes, and a wide variety of antioxidants.

Many of the nutrients present in juice are fragile, and their nutritional value is significantly decreased, or even lost, if the juice is stored. Many commercial juices have been heat treated to lengthen their shelf life.  When you consume fruit and vegetable juices for their nutritional value, these commercial products are nutritionally inferior, compared with the nutrients available in freshly prepared juices.

Homemade juices can be made from fresh fruits, vegetables, and green leafy vegetables.  Juices made from greens cleanse the body of pollutants, while having a rejuvenating effect. Green juices are rich in chlorophyll - which helps to purify the blood - build red blood cells, detoxify and heal the body, and provide the body with quick energy.  They are able to provide these healing benefits because of their chemical make up.

Juices made from greens are more nutrient dense than other types of juices, since they are very rich in beta carotene - a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants bind to free radicals, preventing them from being able to damage delicate bodily systems. This action cleanses the body of pollutants.

The nutrients found in the plants commonly made into green juices are those known for supporting the health of individual blood cells and the body’s circulation. Iron, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B12, pyridoxine (B6), and the balance of essential amino acids (proteins) are all vital for the formation and maintenance of adequate levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells.(1)  Chlorophyll, vitamin K, and calcium - also found in green juices - are all involved in blood clot formation and breakdown.

The specific nutrients needed for the synthesis of immune cells and products include protein (amino acids), vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, folic acid, and pyridoxine. Green vegetables and wheat grass are excellent sources of these nutrients.

At the University of Texas Medical Center, in 1980, Dr. Chiu Nan Lai reported that extracts of wheat grass and other green vegetables have been identified as inhibiting the cancer-causing effects of two mutagens - benzopyrene and methylcholanthrene).(2)  These aspects contribute to the detoxification and healing qualities the body receives from consuming green juices.

All of these nutrients work together synergistically  to cleanse, purify, and detoxify the body while also nurturing its healing and regenerative abilities.

Green juices can be made from alfalfa sprouts, barley grass, kale, dandelion greens, spinach and wheat grass.  To sweeten and dilute your green juices, try adding carrots and apples slices to the blend. Although extremely healthful, green juices should be consumed in moderation.

Vegetable juices are known for restoring and building the body. They help boost the immune system and balance the metabolism. They can also help those who are overweight by removing excess body fat.

The most healthful and delicious vegetable juices are made from beets, carrots, kale, watercress and wheat grass. The stronger tasting vegetables, such as broccoli, celery, and parsley should be used in small amounts, or their flavor may overpower the more delicate vegetable flavors of the juice.

Carrots are often used in vegetable blends. Their juice is sweet and flavourful, while also being rich in carotenoids. This class of  antioxidants  includes alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Of the more than 500 carotenoids that exist in nature, about 50 of them can be converted to vitamin A in the body.

Fruit juices help cleanse the body, and nourish it with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One delicious cleansing juice can be made from watermelon. To make watermelon juice, place a whole piece of watermelon - including the rind - into the juicer. Other delicious and nutritious juices can be made from apples, apricots, berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, melons, pineapples, or pears.

When preparing to juice your fruits and vegetables, select high quality produce, preferably organic. If you are unable to obtain organically grown fruits and vegetables, peel, or thoroughly wash, the produce, using a vegetable brush to remove the chemical residues and waxes. When using organically grown produce, you may leave the skin on. However do remove the skin before juicing apricots, grapefruits kiwis, oranges, papayas, peaches and pineapples. The skins of oranges and grapefruits are very bitter and contain a toxic

substance that should not be consumed in large amounts. The skins of kiwis and papayas, being tropical fruits, may contain  harmful pesticide residues, and the pineapple skins are too thick to be processed by most juicers.  When juicing apples, avoid running the seeds through the juicer, as they contain cyanide. Be sure to also remove all fruit pits before juicing.

When introducing juice to your birds, place some in a tea mug or a small shallow dish. First sample the juice yourself in front of your birds. Indicate how delicious it tastes, with plenty of “Ahhh’s ” and “Ohhh’s”. Then offer some to your bird. If he is unwilling to taste it, dip your finger in the juice and place some in his beak. Frequently, after a parrot actually tastes how delicious fresh home-made juices are, they begin drinking the juice with quiet abandon.  If your parrot is unwilling to drink out of a tea mug or a glass, place some juice in a smaller - bird friendly - dish. This will often help them feel more comfortable and they will sample some of the brightly colored liquid.

Although the superior nutritional quality of freshly made fruit and vegetable juices cannot be  disputed, there may be an exception regarding a particular commercial juice. This is the whole fruit puree and preparation of the mangosteen fruit.  Mangosteen contains a powerful class of antioxidants called xanthones. Xanthones have been the subject of intense research for several decades. They are found in a select number of rain forest plants. However, the highest amount has been found in the pericarp, or rind, of the mangosteen fruit.

The two most beneficial xanthones found in mangosteen have been named Alpha Mangosteen and Gamma Mangosteen. According to professional journals such as “Free Radical Research”, “Journal of Pharmacology” and the “Indian Journal of Experimental Biology”, these xanthones have a remarkable effect on improving overall health, and are some of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature.  All of our birds,who have tasted the mangosteen juice, really love its rich flavor.

As we move forward into this new year, perhaps you’ll consider the benefits of bringing a juicer home and making fresh fruit and vegetable juice for yourself and your birds. Or possibly you may try sharing some mangosteen juice with your flock. I bet the whole family will be glad you did!

(1) Scott, E. and Delor, C. 1933. Nutritional anemia. Ohio State Medical Journal

(2)  Lai, C., Butler, M., and Matney, T. 1980. Antimutagenic activities of common vegetables and their chlorophyll content. Mutation Research 77:245-250.

The Best Bird Food Ever website

Leslie Morán has been a professional in the area of natural animal health care for nearly 30 years. She owns and operates Critter Connection Inc. By providing diet, nutrition, health and behavior consultations to companion animals she helps her clients achieve the results they desire.

She is well published, with articles appearing in several US and international avian publications.  Her regular monthly column, “The Holistic Parrot”, appears in “Parrots” magazine.  Morán is passionate regarding raising awareness about avian nutritional needs.  The goal of her book, “Sprouting Kits and the 100% Organic Sprouting Blends” (, is to eliminate malnutrition - and its destructive impact - one parrot at a time. Discover why her Best Bird Food Ever! Sprouting Blends are so special.

blogs from the field - parrot conservation in real time