This post was going to be about juice – orange juice, Juicy Juice, unsweetened cranberry juice – you know, the stuff that comes in big jugs at the grocery store with labels like “all natural!” and “not from concentrate.” The juice of our childhood, folks.
But then the more I thought about it, the more my comments boiled down to one general conclusion: juice is basically soda without the carbonation (no, really – there’s so much sugar in juice it may as well be soda).
Scratch that one. Amanda wouldn’t eat (drink?) it in a million years.
However, the idea of looking at an even bigger juice “trend” – cold pressed juicing – is still relevant. With juice bars and juice shops popping up on every corner, and juices making their way as far into the mainstream as your neighborhood Starbucks, what exactly is fresh pressed juice? And how is it different from the Jamba Juice we all overdosed on in the 90s?
Juice shops like Pressed Juicery, Nekter Juice Bar, and Kreation tout “cold pressed” juices (and juice cleanses, which warrants another post all its own), which are juices that are extracted from their “host” fruit or vegetable using a high-pressure masticating blade that produces less heat – and reputedly preserves more nutrients – than a traditional spinning juicer (like a Breville, the one you probably got as a wedding gift at some point).
So what’s the nutritional down low on these fresh extracted juices?
- it’s about a billion times healthier than “box juice” in that it is actually made from fresh fruits and vegetables, without additives, preservatives, or flavors
- the cold pressing extracts every last drop of juice from the produce, meaning nothing is wasted and all vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes are kept intact
- if you aren’t into eating fruits and vegetables, cold pressed juicing can be like your non-synthetic daily multivitamin
- when you extract juice away from its skin/pulp, you know what you’re left with? Sugar. And the (naturally occurring) sugar content of cold-pressed juice is no lower than it would be if it was extracted another way – and in some cases, is much higher, since it takes lots of fruits and veggies to make a 16 ounce glass of juice (at the juice bar I have at work, they put a full beet, two carrots, two stalks of celery, and an entire apple into one “small” size)
- you know what else you lose when you lose skin and pulp? Fiber. And that’s why juices in general are a poor substitute for whole fruit.
- you gotta drink fresh juice quickly – typically within 15 minutes, or it oxidizes and loses a lot of the antioxidant power for which you’re drinking it
- YES, Amanda Would – and does! – Eat It. I choose fresh pressed juice in a pinch – when I’m hungry but in a rush, when I know I am low on my veggie count for the day, or when I am in an airport and I know it’s a healthier breakfast option than a bagel and OJ.
- But let’s be honest, people – it’s still just extracted sugar, to some degree, and it keeps me full for about a nanosecond – not worth it for me as a regular/daily dietary choice in terms of the calories ingested versus nutrients gained (think zero protein, fat or fiber).
- what’s cooler than being cold? BLENDING! Yep, putting actual full fruits and vegetables – skin and all – into a high-speed blender and then drinking the smooth, thick, creamy result is a much more satisfying and healthy way to get your fruits and vegetables – and it actually counts as a fruit and vegetable serving since you’re preserving every part of the produce (no wasted pulps and skins)
- you know what else is really underrated? Just eating fruits and vegetables, ideally with a bit of protein and fat to keep you satiated as well. An apple with almond butter, some turkey slices wrapped around celery sticks, or carrots and amped-up hummus (my version of homemade hummus mixed with Greek yogurt) are all lower in sugar and calories than most pressed juices and will keep you fuller longer – without the $12 price tag, either.
Are you a juice addict – fresh or otherwise? What’s your favorite blending recipe?