Signs you're officially old: you get a sore back from bending over too quickly, you look forward to a 9pm bedtime, and you spend hours considering which kitchen appliance to invest in (juicer or a blender? We've got a guide for that!). Which is understandable, when you know how much these things cost (again, another adult responsibility - budgeting).
If you're wondering whether a juicer is worth your hard-earned dollars because you're keen to juice fruits and then juice leafy green vegetables and then, well, heck, juice any other foods you can get your hands on, we'll help you decide.
Is a juicer worth it?
You love to drink fresh juice and want to stay healthy, so surely a juicer is the ideal investment? Before you pull out your wallet, consider whether one is right for you and your lifestyle.
You might be tempted by a juicer because you've heard about how healthy raw juice is. Surely it's just all the goodness of fruits and vegetables in a glass? Well, kind of.
- Juicing lets you add a wide range of fruit and veges to your diet. You might not enjoy eating a side of steamed leafy greens but combine the juice of them with other delicious fruit and vegetable juices and you've got a far tastier way to eat (drink) them. If you struggle to eat enough vegetables, juicing can help you cram more veggies into your diet.
- Juicing retains more nutrients. Because you're using raw produce and not cooking it, the argument goes that most of the nutrients are retained.
- It contains vitamins, minerals and plant compounds which are all good things.
But on the other hand, fruit juice has lots of fructose (natural sugar). When you concentrate fruit by juicing it and remove the fibre that's in the skin and pulp, the fructose creeps up. Especially when you consider how many oranges go into making 1 small glass of orange juice. One small glass of juice (250ml) is equivalent to 4 pieces of whole fruit or 6 teaspoons of sugar.
Drink a lot of it and your daily sugar intake can skyrocket. Most experts warn against drinking too much fruit juice thanks to its high sugar content which can cause you to consume lots of extra calories. This can lead to weight gain and put you at risk of other health problems, like type 2 diabetes. With the high sugar content, it can also damage your teeth.
Instead, they suggest you reach for a piece of fruit. It's a wholefood, complete with fibre, making it far more filling so you're less likely to eat too much of it.
Another health consideration about juicers is the type: slow juicers vs fast juicers (masticating juicers or cold press juicers vs centrifugal juicers). It's claimed that a slow juicer makes more nutritious juice because it slowly presses the produce, retaining more of the goodness. However, CHOICE, Australia's leading consumer advocacy group has thoroughly debunked this, finding:
"There's no single juicer or juicer type that consistently extracts the maximum amount of nutrients from each juice tested."
TL;DR - whole foods, like entire fruit and vegetables, are better for you than fruit juice, regardless of whether you use a centrifugal juicer or a cold press juicer. So don't buy one thinking it'll make you healthier or help you lose weight.
How often you'll use it
You need to use a juicer every day to get the most out of it. Otherwise the costs of buying it plus the food (i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables) won't make your investment worth it.
Compared to the single use plastic cups you get at the juice bar, homemade fresh juices can be more eco-friendly. You can put them in your own washable glass, for example.
Plus, you get control over what happens to the leftover wet pulp. At home, you can turn this into compost or add it to your cooking. Carrot juice pulp can be added to carrot cake or you can fry up vegetable pulp for fritters or other deliciously healthy food.
However, you need to consider the energy your machine uses and the sustainability of its manufacture. Check out juicer reviews to understand these types of things. Most juicers only have a 5-7 year lifespan and will head to landfill after that. Look after your machine to ensure it has the longest possible life:
- Don't put the parts in the dishwasher, even if you can. Over time, the parts will stay stronger and be less likely to crack.
- Clean your machine as soon as you're finished with it to prevent debris build-up and thoroughly dry it.
- Replace the parts if you can. Although this isn't normally possible with cheaper juicers, the more expensive ones tend to have replaceable parts like blades and jugs.
There are multiple costs associated with at-home juicing. There's the purchase price. Fast juicers are normally in the range of $60 to $500, slow juicers $300 to $700+. Then there's the food cost - fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive and you need them in large quantities. You can reduce these costs by shopping seasonally though. This also gives you the freshest, most nutrient-rich produce too.
Making your own vegetable and fruit juices takes time. There's the time it takes to shop for the food that's going in it - soft fruits, green vegetables, peanut butter or other nut butter, chia seeds, whey powder, etc. Then there's the time to prepare the food, like pre-cutting it into smaller pieces. Then there's the actual juicing. Cold pressed juicers can take around 5-6 minutes to squeeze juice out and make 1 small glass.
Finally, there's the cleaning time. It's important to clean as soon as possible to avoid a sticky residue that gets harder to remove.
So, are juicers worth buying?
If you're a regular juice drinker who wants to start juicing at home, it's more cost-effective than daily trips to your favourite juice bar.
However, if you:
- Probably won't use a juicer every day.
- Drink juice less than 3 times a week.
- Love it when someone else does the juicing for you.
- Don't want to spend time shopping for (and chopping) food and thoroughly cleaning a juicer.
You'll probably want to stick with the juice bar - just make sure you bring your own reusable cup.