Fruit and veg intake

QI’ve been feeling sluggish for weeks and want to up my fruit and vegetable intake. I am looking to buy a juicer. Is there a particular brand that you recommend?

>> The best juicer for you is the one that you can afford, the one that you find most simple to use, and the one that you are likely to use regularly. Of course there are considerations such as choosing centrifugal or cold-press (also known as masticating or auger juicers), electric or manual, or deciding between single auger or twin-gears.

Centrifugal juicers have a shredding disc with tiny holes in the walls and the aim is to produce juice as quickly as possible. If you want to save time by juicing apples, beets, and carrots whole, and need the process to be done with in under five minutes, then this is the one for you.

The downside of centrifugal juicing is that the high speeds generate heat, which considerably shortens the life of the juice (drink within 5-10 minutes of juicing for maximum benefit). They can also be tricky to clean effectively, and the juice often contains finely shredded pulp. This is the ‘fast-food’ juicer option.

Cold-press juicers use a slow ‘chewing’ action via a single or double auger, to ensure maximum nutrient output. The juice extracted has a stronger flavour due to the higher nutrient content, and has a much longer shelf-life — it can be refrigerated for several hours without any significant nutrient loss.

Twin-gear juicers continually cut and crush the produce as the gears revolve, and typically utilise stainless steel for the moving parts, resulting in a more effective and hard-wearing machine with the highest juice extraction rate. The downside is the time it takes to prepare the fruit and vegetables into small pieces, and the actual speed of juicing is significantly slower — often around 20 minutes.

If you want to juice delicate foods such as wheatgrass, then a cold-press or twin gear juicer is the only option. The most affordable in this category is the manual single gear juicer.

Of the centrifugal juicers, Breville Juice Fountain gets my vote as being the best of the bunch. Within the single-auger options, I like LexSun or Oscar, and the undisputed queen of the twin-gear juicers is the Angel.

Q I have been diagnosed with high cholesterol at 6.8. Everything else has tested normal, and my weight is within the health range. What can I do to reduce my cholesterol reading?

>> A healthy total cholesterol level for adults aged 30 years plus is considered to be around 5.2mmol/L (200mg/dL).

While most people typically link heart attacks with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, it is a damaging substance called homocysteine which is actually a better indicator of heart health.

Simply increasing your intake of oily fish (from an unpolluted source), eating plenty of seeds and nuts, and getting your five servings a day of fresh fruit and vegetables will have a positive effect on your homocysteine levels.

There are other foods which are important to include in your diet: turmeric, freshly-squeezed orange juice, onions, fish, garlic, fermented soya products (miso, etc), lecithin, olive oil, berries, nuts (except peanuts) and seeds, kidney beans, brussels sprouts, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Psyllium husks and oats are also good.

Foods to avoid or reduce include organ meats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, deep fried foods, tea, coffee and carbonated drinks.

Ask your GP about a test for homocysteine, or you can do it yourself with a kit from YorkTest, ireland.yorktest.com; 01-2022701, €109.


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