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Cold-Pressed vs Traditional Juice

If you follow food trends, you've seen cold-pressed juice in the grab-and-go section of your grocery store, convenience store, or gym. If you don't follow food trends, you've probably seen it, but the only thing that stood out to you was the price tag.

At dailyServing, when we are out and about sampling our product, we get a lot of questions about our juice. What is cold-pressed? Is it pasteurized? Is it safe for pregnant women? Is it a good option for people with diabetes? How is this any different from the juice I make at home? How is this different from "normal" juice?

After answering some of these questions for the 438th time, it became clear that a quick guide to the topic would be helpful for our company - and for you! So without further ado, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions, and a few bonus thoughts on the subject.

What is Cold-Pressed Juice?

Simply put, cold-pressed juice is juice that is made by pressing fruits and vegetables to extract the juice, in a way that doesn't produce heat.

There are two main ways to juice: cold-press and centrifugal. Centrifugal juicers pulverize fruits and veggies using a spinning metal blade that rotates against a mesh filter. It is actually this centrifugal force that separates the juice from the pulp. This process generates heat, which can degrade some of the nutrients in the juice. Most at-home juicers use this method.

Cold-press juicers use the process called mastication, where the fruits and veggies are actually crushed and pressed to extract juice. There is very little heat generated during this process, which helps preserve nutrients and enzymes. While these juicers don't work quite as fast, they tend to get more yield from the produce, and are much more effective with leafy greens.

How is this Different from "Other" Juice?

By reducing the heat generated and the oxidation during the extraction of the juice, cold-pressing allows for greater retention of nutrients. Specifically, certain B vitamins (folate, thiamin, and pantothenic acid), as well as vitamin C are all susceptible to heat. Oxidation can reduce the amount of antioxidants available from the juice, as well.

Note that some phytochemicals are more bioavailable when heat is applied - the most common example is lycopene in tomatoes. Cooked tomatoes have more of the powerful antioxidant than raw tomatoes. Not all heat is bad, and I'm certainly not encouraging an all-raw diet :)

Is the Juice Pasteurized? Is it Safe for Pregnant Women?

The other significant difference in cold-pressed juice vs traditional juice or homemade juice is the method of preservation. Homemade juice remains raw - along with juice that you order at a juice bar where it is made to order. Traditional juice goes through pasteurization, the process of preservation that we are most familiar with, which involves high heat to kill any potential pathogens. See above for concerns about nutrient losses due to high heat.

Cold-pressed juice, on the other hand, goes through a process called High Pressure Processing (HPP). Instead of using heat to kill pathogens, high pressure - to the tune of 80,000 psi - is used. For those of you who remember some basic chemistry and physics, high pressure would normally generate heat. But the bottles of juice are sitting in a cold water bath, allowing for temperature regulation and an even distribution of the pressure. This is also why HPP products are all packaged in plastic, not glass. Glass does well in environments of high heat, but not as great when it comes to high pressure.

The HPP process gives the juice a shelf life ranging from 30-45 days. These products still need to be kept cold during that time. It is safe for those with compromised immune systems, including pregnant women. Other items in the grocery store that have gone through HPP are dips like hummus, salsa and commercial guacamole, or ready to eat meats like chicken strips, deli slices and pre-cooked sausages. 

Want more info on HPP? Check out this article, which offers more explanation, as well as some commentary on its current commercial use.

Is Cold-Pressed Juice Good for People with Diabetes?

While juicing can provide people with lots of great nutrients and health benefits, individuals with diabetes should be careful about their juice consumption. Whether it is traditional juice, cold-pressed juice, or homemade juice, there are significant nutritional downsides. Most juices are virtually 100% carbohydrates, and since the fiber is removed in the juicing process, those carbohydrates are going to cause a spike in blood sugar.

So honestly, my recommendation is to avoid juice if you have diabetes. It's better to choose whole fruits and vegetables, since they provide fiber and the satisfaction of chewing (the psychological aspects of eating are important!). It's usually a lot cheaper, too.

Photo courtesy of dailyServing

Photo courtesy of dailyServing

But for some people, drinking their produce is just the only way it's going to happen. I'm realistic! If that's the case, then look for 100% juice - not all juice is created equal, and don't be swayed by simply buying the expensive or trendy juice. Some pasteurized juices are 100% fruits and veggies, and some cold-pressed/HPP juices have added sweeteners. Also, size matters. For my patients with diabetes who enjoy juice, I recommend sticking to 4 oz of juice at a time. If the juice has lots of vegetables in it, you can get away with up to 6 oz. Also, don't drink the juice by itself - make sure to incorporate protein and fat to help improve blood sugar control.

One major exception to the rule is for patients who are on insulin, or oral medications that can cause low blood sugars. Juice is a GREAT way to help treat a hypoglycemic incident. Again, you only need 4-6 oz, depending on the juice (your goal is about 15g of carbohydrates). Don't forget to follow that up with a snack that provides fat and protein to help level out your blood sugar. dailyServing's "boost" would be a great option to have on hand for such moments. The juice provides 16g of carbohydrates, while the snack provides 12g of fat, 4g of protein, 4g of fiber (of the 9g of carbs).

Other Thoughts

Cold-pressed juice is a great option for getting in more produce on-the-go. But it's not the only option. As I mentioned, whole fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper and provide fiber. Other pasteurized juices are 100% juice and can provide excellent flavor and nutrients.

It depends what else you're considering... Sometimes a drink with flavor is the only way to go. So when given the choice between nothing-added cold-pressed juice and sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, specialty coffee drinks, and sports drinks - always pick the juice. You may not be saving calories, but at least you're getting a great source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for your health.

Photo Credit: Austin Paulik for dailyServing

Photo Credit: Austin Paulik for dailyServing

Another great place to enjoy a cold-pressed juice is as a mixer. Hey, if you're going to drink a cocktail, you might as well drink one with some nutritional benefits. Forget that margarita mix laden with sugar and chemicals. Instead, mix some tequila and triple sec with our "recover" juice (pineapple, celery, tumeric) for a wonderfully healthy happy hour.

What's your favorite juice? How do you incorporate it into a healthy lifestyle?