Everyone from Dr. Oz to "Crazy, Sexy" Kris Carr has promoted it as the next big thing in health. But unfortunately, not all raw juices are as wholesome as you might think: Even a product that says it's "100 percent juice" can include added flavors, colors and preservatives, and juice made "from concentrate" contains highly processed ingredients -- and it's definitely not raw.
Often juices contain hidden ingredients: Naked juice was forced to drop the "all natural" label after being exposed for including synthetic sweetener and fibers to their juices.
And unless you're getting fresh raw juice from organic fruits and vegetables, you might be getting taken. Especially if you're paying $12 for the privilege. Here's what to look for in your raw juice.
These juices are flash pasteurized, which means they are heated to the point that that will kill bacteria, viruses, molds and other nasties that might get you sick -- unfortunately, the process also destroys most of the enzymes, nutrients, vitamins, probiotics and minerals that make raw juice so good for you. And adding in Vitamin C doesn't make much of a difference.
Takeaway: Skip it for nutritional benefits, keep it for taste -- organic, of course!
High Pressure Processed Juice
High Pressure Processing -- or HPP -- has allowed the big food players to get into the raw juice game: Hain Celestial Group bought BluePrint after they reported $20 million in sales; Starbucks snapped up Evolution Fresh for $30 million in 2012. Basically, HPP means that the bottled juice is highly pressurized -- thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch -- so that pathogens are destroyed, while the good stuff isn't affected. Oh, and it's "fresh" for two weeks -- good news for mass market manufacturers.
However, a class action suit against Hain Celestial alleges that HPP processing "destroys some probiotics and enzymes," and that BluePrint juice should not be labeled "raw." Defenders of HPP have stated that most processors -- typically centrifugal juicers, which basically pulp and spin fruits and vegetables to extract juice -- involves a small amount of heat, which also destroys some of the good stuff in raw juice. With that caveat in mind, HPP juice seems pretty raw to me -- but I'd still try to buy that which was pressed most recently, as I would with any produce.
Takeaway: Look for organic HPP raw juice that was recently pressed.
The crème de la crème of raw juicing, cold-pressed juice devotees claim that their juice retains more vitamins, minerals and enzymes than any other source. In this process, fruits and veggies are crushed together, then pressurized to extract liquid. Because there's no heat involved, none of the good stuff is destroyed. Cold juice is best consumed within a few hours of pressing and only lasts up to two days in the fridge. Yes, Dr. Oz compared labels to raw, cold-pressed juice and pasteurized and found no real difference in nutritional components -- although he didn't measure enzymes and probiotics, which most raw juicers swear are what keep them healthy.
Takeaway: Drink it soon after pressing and savor, as you would any treat.
Got notes? Now go get your juice on!