Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Juicers: Fab or Fad?


Fresh juice? Yes, please!
Fresh juice? Yes, please!
Image: Shutterstock

I’ll admit it: I’ve eyed them at the store. The only thing that’s stopped me from purchasing one myself is the cost. Even so, every once in a while I consider how long it would take me to pay one off if I bought it on my credit card. But I’ve also stopped to think about their sudden burst into popularity. Are they just a fad? Or are they really as great as they seem? I’m talking about juicers, of course.

Juicers have a cult-like following.
Juicers have a cult-like following.
Image: Shutterstock
There’s no question about it—Americans generally don’t get as many daily servings of fruits and veggies as they ought to. Even those of us who try to always eat healthy, balanced meals might have a hard time fitting five servings of each in a day’s time. Whether it’s because we don’t like the taste or it’s just too much trouble to prepare, many of us are lacking sufficient servings, causing a full array of problems.

Juicers offer the simple option of throwing fruits and veggies in whole and spitting out the liquid and nutrients, leaving a dry pulp behind. People are swearing by the machines, attributing weight loss, healthier skin, and moreenergy to the extra vitamins and minerals they’re now consuming. But how true are these claims?

As it turns out, they’re pretty legitimate. Adding servings of juice to a regular diet can add lots of nutritional value, especially when people use dark green and deep orange vegetables in their juices. Kale and carrots may not be an enjoyable taste for everyone, but many are finding that they can easily palate them when they’re mixed up with a few sweeter fruits like pineapple or apple.

Unfortunately, the method is not perfect and some nutritionists have urged people not to get too carried away. “You’re getting a higher quota of some nutrients, but not necessarily all of them,” cautioned Jennifer Nelson of the Mayo Clinic. Some nutrients can be lost in the process of juicing, so the practice shouldn’t necessarily completely replace regular, whole, fruits and veggies in meals.

Juicers skyrocketed into popularity after the release of "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead."
Image from hungryhungryrunner.com
Juicers vary significantly in price, starting at about $50 for manual models that require chopping and produce very little juice and jumping to somewhere around $700 for more elaborate models. “Fast” Juicers produce juice in mere seconds, are generally loud, and get most moisture out of produce. “Slow” juicers take a few minutes to process but get more liquid out and don’t produce heat—which can deplete some nutritional value. “Whole food” juicers work much like a food processor or blender, grinding up the whole ingredient and leaving behind nothing.

Juicers jumped to popularity shortly after the release of “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” produced by Australian filmmaker Joe Cross, who went on a 60-day juice fast and lost over 80 pounds, sending his autoimmune disease into remission. After it was released on Netflix, sales skyrocketed. Last year, sales hit about $215 million, a 71% growth over the year before. 
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