Most of us have been trained to think if it's juiced, it's good for us, and nowadays there is a lot chatter about juice being the newest "must-have" thing. After all, more intake of fruits and vegetables can only be good: prevention of heart disease, lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, and even prevention of degenerative vision have all been associated with drinking juices. Whether we're juicing for a cleanse to detoxify or for that euphoria induced by exotic ingredients, it's hard to deny this new generation of trendy juices.
Related: The Pros and Cons of Juicing »
It's no surprise then that Starbucks recently shelled out $30 million for the purchase of Evolution Fresh, and is planning a nationwide rollout in 2012. The juice business is exploding as the latest trend in healthy living in urban metropolises and beyond. For a nationwide example, take a look at Jamba Juice and its continual expansion in product offerings, which now includes vegetable smoothies. In August the company announced 4.3% quarterly growth, following previous consecutive gains.
You have access to the fountain of youth in the form of vibrantly colored nectar. But what is the hype all about? With all sorts of complicated juice lingo flying around, there are a few things to sort out when approaching the juicing life. Is it safe to drink non-pasteurized juice? Does pasteurizing take away nutritional value? Which juicer is best to use?
Who knew juice could be so controversial?
Pasteurized vs. Non-Pasteurized (Raw)
We all know V8 - a full serving of pasteurized veggie juice in a bottle. The deal is this: Almost 98% of bottled fruit juices purchased in supermarkets are pasteurized to deter from food-borne bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. The juice is essentially heated at high temperatures (around 160˚F) for 15-30 seconds. Once you heat juice up to kill the bacteria, making it shelf-stable, you also kill a certain amount of the nutrients, though some studies claim it is negligible.
So what about non-pasteurized juice? Some claim that pasteurization also alters color and texture, so if you're looking for the alternative "raw" stuff, you could spend around $10 or so at a local juice bar. But there is a more economical option. That's right, juicing in your own home. Quick, simple, and the combinations of fruits and vegetables are limitless-all you need is a juicer.
Cold Press vs. Centrifugal
Know your juicer. Which is right for you? Most juice bars use centrifugal juicers, a process where the veggies go into the juicer, get crushed and then the juice is pressed out at a very high speed. A centrifugal juicer for your home is often less expensive, though it's also been criticized for its inefficiency in extraction of juice and its rapid oxidation effect lowering overall quality.
Cold pressed juices have more nutrients. Keeping the veggies cold and pressing them is, for lack of a better description, the closest thing to actually eating the veggies. It is the most efficient form of extraction. With this method, the cells are ruptured, and the nutrients are kept "live" since the juices are kept at a cold temperature. Note, however, that most juice pressers for the home are designed for citrus fruits. Don't be discouraged, for there are others out there. Cold pressed juices are usually much more expensive than centrifugal. Is it worth a significant difference in price? That's for you to decide.
The emergence of juice bars all around the country shows that juicing is no longer relegated to health food stores and co-ops. With Starbucks joining in the game, it's clear that this trend is here for the long haul. Juicing has been a vegetarian staple, and now it seems poised to move from the fringe to the center of a balanced lifestyle.