Is drinking fruits and veggies as good for your health as eating them? Home juicing is all the rage, but it’s not necessarily a nutritional goldmine.
“Juicing may be attractive to people who want to eat healthier but don’t get at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables,” says registered dietitian Joanne Larsen, of dietitian.com. Juicing is also a great way for people with sensitive joints to get their vegetables without having to slice them. But, she warns, “Many juicers remove the pulp [fiber] from foods.” Fiber aids digestion, may help lower inflammation, and can help keep you feel full.
Larsen recommends drinking fresh vegetable juices to supplement your diet or replace unhealthy snacks – but don’t go overboard. Limit the quantity to no more than two 8-ounce servings per day because juices can be high-calorie.
How to Get Started:
To juice at home, you’ll need a juicer. But before you invest in one – prices range from $50 to $500 or more – stop by a health food store or juicing bar to make sure you like fresh juice. And when shopping for juicers, it’s wise to keep a few key features in mind.
“Juicing machines can be difficult to clean, so before buying one, ask the salesperson to show you how to take the display juicer apart in the store,” says Larsen. For optimum nutrition, Larsen recommends looking for juicers that don’t remove pulp – they’re much more expensive, but ultimately better for you.
Types of Juicers:
- Centrifugal juicers use a shredding or chopping disc to grind the food, which is then spun through a fine strainer at very high RPMs to separate the juice from the pulp. Most home juicers on the market today are centrifugal juicers.
- Masticating juicers have one speed, and grind food in a slower manner, extracting more juice from the pulp. They take a bit longer to juice, but the juice tends to last longer without separating, which is great if you don't plan to consume it immediately.
- Twin gear or dual augur juicers have a two-step process; they first crush the food then press it to release the juice. These juicers leave more fiber in the juice, along with a higher percentage of the foods’ vitamins and minerals, but they’re often much harder to clean.
- Citrus juicers only juice citrus, like lemons, oranges and grapefruit.
Juicers We Love:
- Cuisinart Compact Juice Extractor ($99.95) – Closer to the lower end of the price range, the removable parts of Cuisinart’s basic centrifugal juicer are all dishwasher-safe, which makes cleaning easier. What we like: It takes up less room on the counter than most juicers.
- Breville Juice Fountain Plus ($149.99) – Breville’s juicers have a 3-inch feed tube, which makes adding clean fruits and vegetables without chopping easier (great for those with painful joints). What we like: The mesh strainer within the machine is very fine, which means the juice comes out with no chunks.
- Vitamix Professional Series 750 ($649.95) – Although it’s technically a high-powered blender, not a juicer, the Vitamix is a chef’s favorite because it effortlessly blasts through even the toughest fruits and vegetables. What we like: The Vitamix keeps all the pulp and fiber in the juice, for maximum nutritional benefit, and it has a cleaning setting to reduce scrubbing.
Using a Juicer:
Once you get the hang of it, juicers are easy to use – turn on the machine on, put whole or slightly-chopped fruits and vegetables into a feed tube, and the juicer separates the juice from the pulp, depositing one into a handy pitcher and the other into a compost or waste bin. Here are some smart tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure fruits and vegetables are clean before you begin.
- If your juicer has two speeds, use the low speed for softer vegetables, like greens and herbs, and the high speed for harder ones, like carrots, beets and celery.
- Juice right before you plan to drink.
- Lemon juice helps brighten the flavors of many vegetables and prevents discoloration.
- It’s easiest to clean your juicer right after use.
Combinations to Try:
- Carrot + ginger + apple
- Kale + carrot + pineapple + apple
- Beet + orange + spinach