Is “juicing” a fad or is it here to stay? What is most important to know about juicing are provenance, preparation and combinations. Where is the food item sourced from, who is handling it, how is it processed, and what combinations of food are important medicinally? There are so many juices out there. Each city has local favorites such as Easy Being Green, Juice Generation, Evolution Fresh, Jugo Fresh, and Blue Print. Sipping your nutrients has been popular for several years. And it’s no surprise—the “It drink” can provide you with loads of health benefits by upping your intake of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The problem is, there’s a lot of confusion about how to juice. Dr. Michael Hall is a general practitioner and founder of The Hall Longevity Clinic in Miami Beach. Dr. Hall cautions that, “One must be savvy and know how to read between the lines at a super market or juice bar.” Dr. Hall decodes some of the common “juice” terms and points out common mistakes “juicing junkies” make.
“Contains 100% Juice” Everything in the bottle came from fruit or vegetables, but not necessarily the ones front and center on the label. For example, a cranberry juice might have pure cranberry juice diluted with apple or pear juice. This is still considered “100% juice.”
HPP: This stands for high pressure processing and is a non-thermal pasteurization process. This method is used to give juice a longer shelf life by deactivating certain microorganisms and enzymes.
“Raw” At the present time, this term is either used to refer to unpasteurized cold-pressed juice that has a shelf life of two to three days or HPP-treated cold-pressed juice with a shelf life of up to 45 days. Check the label to see if and how the juice has been pasteurized.
“Unpasteurized” A very small percentage of commercially sold cold-pressed juice in the United States is unpasteurized, though it is gaining popularity. Imagine the fresh-squeezed apple cider at a local orchard, or premium green juice blends made at popular juice bars like NYC-based Juice Press and Liquiteria. These juices have a shelf life of a mere two to three days and are usually created with organic ingredients, making them about three times more expensive than your average lunchtime juice box.
“Pasteurized” Usually referring to thermal pasteurization, where a product is heated, pasteurization is used to prevent spoiling and to kill harmful pathogens, like E. coli. In addition to juice, milk, cheese, canned foods, wines and syrups are commonly pasteurized. Some companies use “flash pasteurization,” which supposedly maintains the color and flavor better. HPP is sometimes considered a form of pasteurization, though it does not use heat.
Cold-Pressed: This juice is created with a press and slow pulverizer. Because the process is slow and doesn’t cause heat, it helps to preserve enzymes and therefore, important nutrients. This is a popular method used for store-bought juices.
“From Concentrate” Many companies create a shelf-stable pasteurized juice product by extracting water from juice and creating a “concentrated” juice product. To make “reconstituted juice,” either the consumer or the manufacturer will add in water to dilute the concentrated juice before serving.
“Not From Concentrate” Used by numerous brands including Tropicana and Florida’s Natural, this phrase was coined in the 80s to distinguish pasteurized juice from juice made from concentrate. Though no water has been removed from this product, some larger producers strip the juice of oxygen, to keep juice stable while oranges are out of season, which reduces some natural flavoring. Some companies add in proprietary “flavor packs” so the product has the taste and aroma of just-squeezed juice. The FDA does not currently require that companies list flavor packs on a product’s packaging.
Common Juicing Mistakes
Going All Or Nothing
Some people get so caught up in a new diet trend that they think going to the extreme will provide better, faster results. In reality, that often sets one up for failure. For most of us it’s extremely difficult to sustain an all-juice diet for any extended length of time. Dr. Hall says that, “The key is to incorporate juices into your diet without totally replacing your meals. For most people, a breakfast juice is a great place to start.”
Adding Without Subtracting
Another common mistake is adding juices into your diet without subtracting other foods. Dr. Hall states that, “While juicing does provide antioxidants, it’s important to keep in mind that they still have calories. Some are better than others—for instance, green juices tend to have fewer calories and sugar than fruit juices—but if you’re adding these to your diet every day, well it adds up. Instead, add a juice to your diet while subtracting another food. But remember, the trick is to incorporate them, not use them to replace meals altogether.”
Picking the Wrong Produce
The best part of juicing is that each drink you make is hand crafted from the fresh produce you put into it. Unfortunately, this leaves a fair amount of room for error. But this doesn’t mean that you should load it up with so many fruits or fruit juices that it tastes like a milkshake from a fast food restaurant. If you find yourself adding entire fruit baskets to your morning drink, it’s probably time for a new plan. You might end with so much sugar and calories that it negates the health benefits. Dr. Hall’s tip? “Make sure your juices follow the 80:20 ratio- 80% greens, 20% fruit. Essentially, the fruit is there to cut the bitter taste, not to dominate your drink.”
Juicing (and Storing) in Bulk
It’s important to store your produce properly before juicing, but it’s also crucial to drink any juice you make at home as soon as possible. Once all of the raw nutrients are exposed to oxygen, they have a tendency to break down. At a maximum, juices should be stored for just a few hours before drinking. After that they lose a huge amount of their nutrients and may cause you to become ill if pathogens grow from oxidation. So, if you want to reap the most benefits, drink up right after you juice up.
Dr. Michael Hall