Published Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
by Alex Ortner
Before we address the apparent blasphemy of that declaration, I need to tell you about my love affair with juice: I cannot live without it. It may sound like an exaggeration, but it certainly feels true. I juice in the morning, and I juice in the afternoon. Sometimes I juice when I’m bored. I most certainly juice Every. Single. Day.
I simply love it.
Whether you’re already a devoted juice-head or you’re considering buying your first juicer, know this: it’s one of the healthiest habits anyone can hope to have. Because so many of us grew up on the Standard American Diet (S.A.D. for short), the conversion to a healthier diet full of fresh vegetables is sometimes challenging, and one that’s easy to temporarily ditch every now and then when you’re busy or stressed.
Admit it: how many of you have that regrettable pizza night from time to time when you’re too busy to prepare a meal?
With juicing, you’re engaging in one of the easiest and quickest ways to get a tremendous bounty of vitamins and nutrients on a daily basis. It only takes a minute or so to juice some celery, ginger or kale and not much longer than that to drink it all up. In that smidgen of time, you’ve pumped yourself full of so much of the good stuff you would have gotten from a delicious veggie meal – whether raw or cooked – that probably would have taken a lot longer to prepare and eat. As such, juices are a perfect way to ease into or maintain a wonderfully healthy diet.
If that’s the case, why would you ever want a cheap juicer?
Know Your Juicers
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends come over, see my juicer and tell me how much they want one. The problem? They just haven’t had time to do the proper research into which type they should buy. See, juice bars and juicer makers have spent an amazing amount of time studying the juicing process, and have determined that certain processes damage some of the enzymes, minerals and nutrients of the veggies you’re juicing. Here’s a quick explanation of the different juicers available to you.
Centrifugal – These are the most common juicers on the market, the ones you’ll find at your nearest department store. They process juice by grinding your vegetables and fruits into a pulp and pressing them through a strainer. For speed, they can’t be beaten, but the heat involved in this process can damage some of the nutrients in your juice, and also fills it with a more than desirable amount of oxygen, which results in juice that spoils quicker. They also don’t extract as much juice from your fruits and vegetables as the other types of juicers. These generally cost between $50 and $200.
Masticating – These juicers are good for both quantity and quality. By slowly grinding your fruits and vegetables, you can rest assured that you’re getting as much juice as you possibly can from your food. Also, because the aeration and heat process is minimal, you’re getting a great deal more nutrients in your juice than you would if you used a centrifugal juicer. The only downside is that they take quite a bit longer to produce a cup of juice. These generally cost between $200 and $400.
Twin-Gear – These are absolutely the best types of juicers on the market. While they are even slower than masticating juicers, the two-step process of first crushing your veggies then pressing them for juice produces such a high quantity and quality of juice that it’s understandable why they’re so desirable. The juice they produce can be stored with confidence, and the only downside is that clean-up can be quite a bit more involved and time-consuming, adding to the already-lengthy juicing time. For most serious juicers however, it’s all entirely worth it for the immaculate, fiber and nutrient rich juice they produce. These generally cost between $400 and $1200.
Why a Less-Expensive Centrifugal Juicer Might Be the Way to Go
Here’s my stance on all of this: although it is very important to know the different types of juicers and how they affect the nutritional value of your juice, I’m of the firm belief that regular juice is better than little or no juice at all; unfortunately, many people can’t afford a $500 juicer, especially in these tough times. In my opinion, if you’re delaying a purchase of a juicer because the ideal one is too expensive, or if you’re not buying that cup of juice from your local health food shop because you can’t afford it, then there’s a serious problem. You need your juice!
That’s why I believe most people should buy an inexpensive, centrifugal juicer, one under $200. For many people, that’s already a pricey purchase, but one that’s entirely worth it.
If you end up going this route, the most important thing you can do is to read the reviews of the juicers before you buy them. Centrifugal juicers are not that great when it comes to juicing leafy greens, some of the main vegetables you want to be juicing. However, there are a few out there that can handle them. That’s what you want: a centrifugal juicer that can handle kale, spinach and other greens in addition to whatever else tickles your fancy. In fact, no matter what kind of juicer you buy, don’t forget to read the reviews first; you really do want to know what other consumers have to say about them.
To some, buying a centrifugal juicer might seem a waste of time, but they’re probably immensely dedicated to their health and devote a lot of time, energy and money to this cause. Unfortunately, a lot of people haven’t gotten quite there yet, and time or financial constraints may have led them to believe that they can’t afford to eat healthily. That’s not acceptable, and any progress should be seen as a step in the right direction.
If you fall into that category, think about this: if you had a juicer, even a less fancy, relatively inexpensive one, you’d be more likely to use it on a regular basis, meaning you’d be getting a more consistent intake of the nutrients, minerals and enzymes that you need. Even if you’re not getting every last nutritious iota that your carrot, kale or spinach offer, you’re still getting a daily dose that you might not get otherwise, and that can make such a fantastic difference in your health.
Imagine how awesome it would be if the juicer became as common a kitchen tool as a can opener or cheese grater. Imagine children whose parents aren’t health nuts getting fresh vegetable juices every morning before they go to school. Imagine households across America having juicers on hand to juice the spoiled vegetables that they throw out every week. According to a study done by the University of Arizona in 2004, the average American family throws out 14% of the food they buy each year. Imagine how much of that could have become tasty, delicious, life-boosting juice!
By all means, if you can afford a high-end juicer, go for it. I’m in no way scoffing at them. However, if that’s out of your price range, please don’t hesitate to get a simple, inexpensive and effective juicer and teach your family how to use it. Adding this one magnificent tool to your kitchen can have an incredible impact on the health and lives of your family members.
To your health,
P.S. – Don’t throw away your pulp after you juice! It can be used in all kinds of baking recipes, and can even be mixed into your dog’s food. It sounds crazy, but you can make use of every last bit of vegetable in your fridge. At the very least, toss them in your compost bin. Don’t have one? Well, more on that in a later post ;)
Do you own a juicer? If so, what are your favorite juices, and how often do you juice? How much of a difference has owning one made in your diet? Let us know in the comments below!