I vividly remember standing in line at The Bagel Factory, just across the street from my college apartment, deciding between an egg sandwich or bagel & cream cheese, but totally knowing I’d get an Odwalla juice to make it a “healthy meal.” So yes, as you can imagine, a lot has changed since my college years. My weekends (and weekdays for that matter), wake-up time and priorities look a lot different…and so do my breakfasts! Gone are the bagels (but we’ll save that for another day) and the juice. The decision to forego carb-loaded bagels might seem obvious, but what’s wrong with vibrant, healthy, pre-packaged juice you might ask?
Well for one thing, I stopped believing every “health label” I saw and started doing a little research…. I mean some of these “superfood” juice bottles have upwards of 300 calories + 49 grams of sugar in one serving! If I’m taking in those kind of levels, I better be getting a TON of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and other good stuff! I used to think my bottle of store-bought juice was the liquid version of a multi-vitamin. And whoa, whoa, whoa check out the ingredient label, what is soy and wheat doing in there?!
Nutritional therapy has been shown to be extremely effective in healing serious degenerative diseases. The Gerson Institute, for example, uses an abundance of nutrients from copious amounts of fresh, organic juices providing a super-dose of enzymes, minerals and nutrients. After spending time in the Gerson kitchen, I see how important it is to take measures to ensure the correct ingredients and preparation methods are used to maintain the integrity of the vitamins and nutrients from whole organic produce!
So for everyone else who isn’t a crazed health nut, and isn’t obsessed with ingredient labels, I thought I would put together the following cheat sheet. When you’re in the market for a nutrition boost and want to choose a juice, keep the following in mind! No more taking advantage of the “confused consumer” with misleading claims and expensive price tags.
What to Look For when Buying Juice
- Choose Cold-Pressed! The standard orange juice in your grocery store has been pasteurized using heat, which denatures healthy enzymes and oxidizes nutrients… basically kills all the nutrients. So what’s left? Some experts say mostly sugar-water. If you’re looking for something just a step up from Sunny D, go for the OJ. But if you want the maximum health benefit (or want to take in the nutrients that make juices so great), opt for cold-pressed juices. This method of maximum health retention uses a 2 part system of 1st) crushing the produce before 2) pressing out the juice. I found cold-pressed options in Starbucks, Whole Foods, and the trendy juice bars. Here’s a handy website- The Pressed Juice Directory .
- Don’t judge a juice by its empty health claims! For the record, the words fresh, natural, and superfood can be used without meeting any sort of legal requirements. In 2013, Naked Juice (owned by PepsiCo) faced a class-action lawsuit for unfitting labeling such as “100 percent juice” and “all-natural.” So orange juice that has been sitting in storage for months and has chemicals added to it for preservation might still have the word fresh on its label. Labels enforced by the USDA, like organic do have special meanings and are enforced by the USDA and (in my opinion) are definitely worth paying extra for.
- When possible, buy juice in glass bottles. Glass is nutritionally best for consumers because it doesn’t leach any parabens or synthetic chemicals. If you can’t find glass, be on the lookout for plastic that is BPA-free.
- Choose veggies! Or at least a juice made of mostly veggies. Dr. Shidfar Rouhani, a physician at Bastyr University states that your fruit to veggie ratio should be 1:3 or 1:4. Most juices still contain fruit, which has natural sugar, unprocessed that comes directly from foods and is considered healthier than refined sugar because it comes with additional nutrients directly from the food. Plus juices that are too sweet might entice you to chug, when you actually want to sip them instead.
Our friends at Food Babe put together this chart that sums up your best options when it comes to store-bought juice.
My favorite places to buy high-quality juice are at local Farmers’ Markets. You can count on the juice being fresh (as in recently turned from a whole food into it’s juice form). Here is a pic of Hanna and Anna of Oh! Juice taken at the Little Italy Mercado in San Diego. Great gals with a real passion for only the highest quality juices!
Whether you’re looking for a juice cleanse, or just a delicious alternative to an afternoon energy boost, juice has become popular than ever! The nutrients absorb quickly creating more energy, better moods, and stronger immunity. Juicing (the right stuff) can provide a quick dose of antioxidants and can help bad skin, achy joints, + has anti-aging effects, and can assist in weight-loss.
It’s commonly agreed upon in the world of nutrition, that the more you can add raw, unpasteurized, plant-based food to your diet the better! You are adding essential nutrients and enzymes that help your body function and repair itself. WOW, just in time for cold & flu season 🙂 Ditching the grocery store OJ? Find a new juice shop that you LOVE? Share it with us in the comments below!
Live your WHOLE life,
Shannon + Meg
Love your site. This info just saved my life. I was encouraged by my doctor to try green juices and have been drinking the ones on your worst list. Thank you thank you for clarifying this issue from a very confused consumer ❤️
Shannon Sullivan says
Hi Constance, thanks for sharing! It’s not your fault, a lot of food marketing out there is misleading, but we’re glad you now know what to look for 🙂 Have you found a favorite green juice? We’d love to hear!