Whether you’re a yoga guru on a cleanse, a gym rat looking for antioxidants, or just perusing the beverage options at the corner coffee shop, chances are you’ve seen cold-pressed juice. This trend has caught the attention of health-conscious people looking to get their fruits and greens in a quick, drinkable form. Bottles can be found anywhere from specialty juice shops to chain grocery stores.
But why are we infatuated with liquefying our fruits and veggies? Are the health benefits worth the hype? Let’s take a closer look.
Cold-pressed juice is made with a hydraulic press that uses thousands of pounds of pressure to extract the maximum amount of liquid from fresh fruits and vegetables. No additional heat or oxygen is used in the process, meaning that no nutrients are lost in the heat of traditional pasteurization.
But cold-pressed juice in its raw form only has a shelf life of three to four days before microbes begin to spoil it, and it can pose some pretty major food safety risks, especially for young children or women who are pregnant.
To solve this problem, most of the cold-pressed juices on the market have undergone a pasteurization method known as high pressure processing (HPP). In HPP, already-bottled juices are submerged in cold water under high pressure, which kills pathogens and increases the shelf life from three to five days to a whopping 30 to 45 days.
The price of these as “cold-pressed” bottled juices are about $10 per bottle and up. That’s a lot to pay for sugar.
It depends on how you look at it. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (such as flavonoids). Since any 100% juice delivers fruits or vegetables, it’s a quick way to get a lot of these compounds in one sitting. Some folks claim that, since cold-pressed juices specifically are exposed to minimal heat and air, they’re able to hold onto more vitamins, minerals, and enzymes present in the whole fruit. However, there is currently no published research to support these claims.
On the other side of the coin, it’s important to remember that a juice-focused diet does not provide all of the nutrients our bodies need. Most fruits and vegetables contain little to no protein or fat, and the juicing process removes much of the fiber found in whole produce (which many of us are neglecting in our diets). If a person consumes multiple bottles of juice per day, calories can quickly add up, without the feeling of fullness you’d get from a whole fruit or vegetable. Think about it this way: For most people, it would be next to impossible (or at the very least, uncomfortable) to eat nine apples or 12 carrots in one sitting — that’s about three pounds of food. The average cold-pressed juice packs the liquid from that amount of produce into one 16-ounce bottle. Because liquid calories may not provide us with the same feelings of fullness as solid foods, you could end up eating more to satisfy your hunger.
Make sure you still drink plenty of water if you drink juices. Drinking water is an easy way to stay healthy and keep your sugar calories down. Also, make sure to read the label before you buy cold-pressed juice. There should be a clear “use by” date on the bottle, since these juices can spoil quickly. Keep in mind that many bottles hold more than one serving—if you drink the whole thing at once it could be more sugar and calories than you bargained for.
The science behind the benefits of cold-pressed juice over other 100 percent juice is lacking. So far, there’s no proof that the beverage actually delivers special health benefits. However, if you’re looking for ways to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet in a fast, easy, and portable way, a bottle of any 100 percent juice, including cold-pressed juice, could be a good option once in a while. If you love juice, keep drinking it. Just be sure to balance it with other healthful foods and beverages.