Juicing as a habit to retain good health

I’m sure at least some of you remember those Juiceman juicer infomercials from the 90s; as a perennial insomniac (in those days, anyway), I sure do. I actually bought one of them, and really enjoyed it for a while. I suppose I got tired of it, as it was “a lot of work” buying fruits and vegetables (I’m American; give me a break!), and the book of recipes was akin to a paperback novel. I was pretty overwhelmed by it all, so my juicer ended up being a pantry museum piece, and ultimately was thrown out years later due to it being irrevocably disgusting from having not been cleaned properly following its last use paired with years of sitting collecting dust. Flash forward years later (about 10 of them, in fact): An old pal of mine started getting really interested in the benefits of juicing. He was and still is a vegan, and had started the journey to juicing through studying up on how to get all the vital nutrients and amino acids that are harder to come by for non-meat/dairy eaters. He listened to my regaling of my “juice days” (“days” is an accurate representation of time I juiced; probably about 5 of them in total) and went to work finding out pros and cons on every which kind of juicer out there. More on him and his noble quest, later. (Really hoping this isn’t coming off like a commercial; erf)

Fruit Juice : The basics

It’s pretty obvious to anyone that there’re a lot of vitamins and minerals in fruits, but why bother juicing them when you can more easily get store-bought juices or simply eat the fruits to get those sweet, sweet nutrients? Well, think about it; first, the store-bought juices: Most of them are barely juice, at all. You can plainly see on most “fruit juice” containers that there is only about 27% (or less) actual fruit juice (which itself is probably horribly processed through centrifugal juicing, et cetera) amongst a pile of sweeteners and preservatives. Also, the “more natural” juices i.e. the ones that say “not from concentrate” are very misleading. As mentioned here, “not from concentrate” juice is not truly “freshly squeezed” (As you might do yourself, with a juicer), but actually squeezed then pasteurized. Now, pasteurization is a great process for keeping pathogens from stored foods, but it also degrades vitamin content. Not only that, these “not from concentrates” are stripped of oxygen to allow them to be stored for long periods, so that “fresh and natural” juice you’re drinking might be almost one year old. I’ll spare you all the scary stuff that’s in the article I cited above, letting you read it for yourself if you wish. I just ask: How can anyone want to drink that junk? It’s either added sugars and preservatives, or falsely fresh funk. It’d be better to just drink water, but if you want juice…then juice!

Your fresh juice; sitting in here for perhaps a year before making it to you. MMM MMM, love my zombie juice!

 

About eating fruits rather than juicing them: Sure, it’d be cheaper to buy an apple and an orange rather than trying to get enough of both of them to make a sweet glass-filling cocktail, but the draw here is that you’re getting all those vitamins and minerals from all’a those fruits in one shot without having to sit and chomp down all of them in one sitting. It should be noted, however, that not eating fruit is missing out on the accompanying, very healthy, fiber contained within. All of the vitamins will be present, but a high amount of strictly juice is a high amount of the evil fructose, which without its accompanying fiber becomes dangerous. This is why it’s generally recommended to juice green vegetables at a ratio of at least 60% to 40% other vegetables and/or fruits (as greens have all the minerals with none or less of the sugars of fruit). I just wanted to point out the quick and plentiful vitamin/mineral/antioxidant ingestion you can get from juicing as opposed to eating fruits.

How to juice

Everyone knows you need some sort of juicing device to separate the juice from its pulp, but which device to buy? Luckily, in my case, I had the benefit of having the aforementioned friend do the research for me in getting his juicer; I’ll talk about his, and ultimately what became my, choice in juicers after this quick informational break:

There are a wide variety of juicers, obviously, but we can break them down into three types:

Masticating juicers: These, in my view, are the best type of juicers available. Perhaps I’m biased, as I own one, but as previously mentioned it is due to the diligent research of my good pal. Now, there are subcategories of these when you consider there are electric ones that operate at higher speeds, but I recommend hand-crank masticating juicers as the result is a low-speed mastication with no heat, which doesn’t cause oxidation like some other juicers and thus keeps the vitamins intact.

Hydraulic press: These are supposedly the crème de la crème of juicers, as far as vitamin retention is concerned. They work by smashing down the pulp of the fruit, which simply releases the juice unchanged from its original form (except that it isn’t in the fruit anymore, smarty). Though the vitamin retention is great, the prep time is seemingly annoying; you have to cut all to-be-juiced fruits/vegetables into small strips and place them in between a paper towel or cheese cloth to be pressed. This and the price (Starting at about $400) were turn-offs for me, but if time and money aren’t at a premium for you I suppose I recommend these guys. I have to say, after watching many videos of the process online, that I feel there is some risk of oxidation seeping out nutrients; indeed, some people use blenders to do the initial prep of the vegetables, and this of course creates oxidation regardless of what happens during the following press. That said, if you choose to buy/use one of these, simply prep the item to be juiced with a knife.

Centrifugal juicers: Should generally be avoided, as they create oxidation and therefore make the juice unsuitable for storing. If you’re fine with drinking the juice you make right away, these are fine, otherwise get a lower speed juicer that does not invoke any nutrient-damaging heat. These type of juicers are the most ubiquitous, with Juiceman probably being the most famous. I suppose as far as prep time, they save the most; but from my personal experience, these things are no fun at all to clean.

All right, so to my personal choice in juicers! I want to first say that this is by no means a commercial; I hate Hate HATE articles pretending to offer objective information when all they’re doing is trying to sell some product. I definitely encourage you to do your own research and come to your own conclusion, but I wanna tell you what I picked and why; maybe you’ll like it too!

Anyway, my choice is the Tribest Z-Star Manual Juicer. I wrote a review about it if you want to really get into the detail of why I chose it, but in a nutshell:

• It is a low-speed masticator, meaning 1) not much prep time and more importantly 2) retention of all vitamins/minerals.

• It’s simple and fast to clean, involving taking a few parts off and putting them under running water for the most part (Exception being the metal grater thing, which comes with a little brush for easy cleaning)

• It isn’t electric, so no worries about messing up gears/getting liquids in it, et cetera.

• It’s nicely-priced, and it lasts. It costs about $100, which in the world of juicers is a bargain, especially for something that lasts like it has. In all, four people I know own one and never have they had any defects. For the most part, and especially with electric blenders (including from the company that makes the Z-Star, Tribest, and their green star juice extractors ), there are often complaints about faulty parts and poor customer service. With this guy, you don’t really have to worry about dealing with customer service. There’re basically 2 moving parts, and they’re both (along with everything else) solid.

As an ending note to this section, I’ll add (for some of you who might not make the distinction) that juicers and blenders are not created equally; at least not in the world of juice. As previously mentioned, blenders oxidize the fruit or vegetable source, eliminating some of its nutrient value over time. Plus: obviously, putting something in a blender is going to keep its pulp there with it. This is fine if you want to ingest the fiber, but kind of defeats the purpose of juicing as it makes it harder to drink, and you won’t get as many vitamins as you won’t be able to “drink” (read: chew) as much.

What to juice

So, you have the will to juice and the materials to do it, but what are the best fruits to juice? Well, again I’ll say that the best fruit juice award would be kind of meaningless considering the “badness” of fructose in fruits; instead I’ll offer you a list a vitamin/mineral powerhouses and hope that you’ll choose to make your juices 60% green, leafy vegetables, and the other 40% part fruits, part other vegetables. That said, I’ll actually start with the best of the best of leafy greens:

Leafy greens: Amaranth leaves, bok choy, kale, spirulina (okay, not technically a “leafy green” as it’s seaweed, but this guy’s an EXTREME powerhouse of so many vitamins/minerals. If you can find some, DEFINITELY get it.), Swiss chard, wheatgrass (another great powerhouse!).

Other vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, mushrooms (vitamin D for the vegans among us), peas, parsnips.

Fruits: Blackberries, blackcurrants, cherimoya, dates, guava, kiwi, mango, pomegranates, watermelon.

Note that you can juice pretty much any fruit/vegetable to some benefit, but these that I have compiled here have a surfeit of vitamins/minerals each, so you’re getting the maximum benefits from juicing them as opposed to juicing a bunch of separate fruits/vegetables based on one or two nutrients (Juicing an orange for vitamin C, for example).

 

So, that’s that.

I think the Juiceman (Jay Kordich) would be proud of me!

That’s about all I have to say about juicing, for now. I hope you’ll keep these few things from the article in mind:

-Juicing is a quick way to get the vitamins and minerals from a large number of vegetables without eating them, but you should make sure to also get a decent amount of fiber in your diet from elsewhere.

-The best types of juicers are ones that operate on low speed/heat systems, as they don’t degrade the available nutrients in juices.

-You should always juice at a ratio of about 60% leafy greens to about 40% other veggies/fruits.

-I’m highly cool.

Until next time!