You may have scored a juicer as a Christmas gift. Or maybe youre thinking of adding fresh juices as part of your New Years diet clean-up plan.
Whatever the reason, juicing is popular, and its an easy way to get the benefits of the vitamins, minerals and health supporting phytochemicals that fruits and vegetables provide.
First, know that there are many different kinds of juicers out there.
Old-fashioned manual juicers and vice-like presses are easy to use, inexpensive and work well for making citrus juices. Youll spend a few dollars for one like your grandmother used to make orange juice up to $100 for a simple mechanical press. Electric citrus juicers are relatively inexpensive, too.
But if youre interested in making more complex blends of fruit and vegetable juices, youll need a more powerful electric appliance that can extract the juice from a wider range of foods such as apples, celery, leafy greens and tomatoes.
Those juicers typically fall into two categories. One shreds and spins foods, using centrifugal force to separate the juice from the solids. Prices vary but many fall into the $100 to $300 range.
Masticating juicers, on the other hand, crush and grind foods to make a pulpier juice. These cost more typically several hundred dollars.
Check consumer reviews before buying a juicer, because models vary considerably by cost but also by noise level, speed, warranty and ease of cleaning. Some juicers such as the Champion juicer can also make nut butters and baby food or turn frozen fruit into an ice cream-like dessert.
Other considerations: Some juicers remove all of the health-supporting fiber from foods. Depending on the kind of juicer you buy, you may or may not have the option of blending the fiber into your drinks.
Other things to keep in mind if youre jumping into juicing:
• Fresh juices dont keep very long. Make only what you need for now, or drink leftovers within a day.
• Fruit juices are relatively high in calories. Consider diluting them with plain water or seltzer.
• Resist the temptation to add supplements and protein powders. Theyre expensive and offer no proven health benefits.
Whole produce is best, but juices can be another appealing way to get more of the nutrients from fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a registered dietitian and clinical associate professor of health policy and management at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.