If you follow trends in natural health, you are probably well aware of the homemade juicing craze that has been sweeping the health world over the last decade. And there is good reason for this trend. Consuming fruits and vegetables in juice form has some proven health benefits, and for many people there is a simple joy in juicing that makes it akin to cooking. It makes a great hobby, and when you consider the health benefits, juicing is a no brainer.
The health benefits
Many people wonder how juicing can possibly be so healthy. After all, do not we get all the same nutrients from vegetables that we eat? The answer, surprisingly, is no. The human body is simply not good at digesting many types of fruits and vegetables, especially dark, tough, leafy greens. In many cases, these vegetables simply pass through the body while keeping much of the nutritional content locked up. Granted, one does get some of the nutrients, but not as much as one can.
Juicing helps. Depending on what type of juicer you use, the fruits and vegetables are shredded or crushed to extract the liquid, along with many of the nutrients. And in liquid form, the materials are much easier for the body to digest. Some elements still simply pass through the body, but a much higher percentage of the nutritional content is absorbed.
Of course, there are also some potential drawbacks to juicing. For one thing, many types of electric juicers get warm during operation, and the warmth can kill some of the nutrition. Also, it is thought that overoxidation-resulting from the bubbles that are a byproduct of the juicing process-kills nutrition as well. And then there is the fact that juicing can be work-intensive, requiring lots of preparation time along with cleaning. If you love juicing, though, the time spent is a joy.
For serious lovers of homemade juice, centrifugal juicers are out of the question. These are the most common models you see in the store and online, and they are actually quite useful for softer, juicier fruits. They work by shredding the material into pulp and then spinning it at very rapid speeds to extract the juice via centrifugal force. This works well with particularly juicy fruits and vegetables, but when it comes to tougher materials, the shredding does not bring the liquid and internal nutrients closer to the surface.
That is why many hardcore juicing enthusiasts use masticating juicers, which operate in a completely different manner from centrifugal juices. Rather than shredding and spinning the materials, masticating juicers crush and press the fruits and vegetables with tremendous force, in the process wringing out and catching all the internal moisture along with its nutritional content. Although masticating juicers use heavy force, they do not have the high RPM of centrifugal juicers, so they do not overheat and hence do not heat the juice.
Many people who love juice consider masticating juicers good enough, but there is one even more efficient category of juicer that many people use: twin-gear juicers. These are similar to masticating juicers, except they use a two-stage process, first crushing the fruits and vegetables and then pressing them. And well-built twin-gear juicers minimize oxidization much better than masticating juicers. When you combine this with the lack of overheating, juice produced in a twin-gear juicer is a fresh and nutritious as possible-and it stores well, too.
In the end, if your main goal is to make juice out of citrus and other soft fruits, than a relatively cheap centrifugal juicer is probably all you need. But if you want to get serious about it, trying different fruits and vegetables and making varied and creative concoctions, it is better to go with one of the more advanced types of juicer. Twin-gear juicers are the most expensive and can be difficult to maintain, so a masticating juicer is a good choice for most people, especially newcomers to juicing.
By Lisa Pecos
Compliments of Kshamica Nimalasuriya MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine & Public Health
Kshamica Nimalasuriya MD, MPH is a Preventive Medicine Physician involved with merging Media with Health, Open-Source Education, Herbal Medicine, Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness, and Love. She works on many initiatives bridging the global digital divide of health care education.