Kya deLongchamps looks at various machines that whirr, press and blend to give you that recommended five-a-day shot of healthiness in one clean sweep.
We all know that including fresh fruit and vegetables in our diets it good for us — but what’s so pressing about juicers and so called nutri-blenders?
Well, even knowing the respected research on how fresh vegetarian ingredients reduce the threat of stroke, cardiovascular disease and potentially, cancers (balancing other intelligent lifestyle habits like exercise and kicking smoking) and including that base level of five servings in one day - it can all be a bit of a reach.
A new study released last month by the Harvard Th Chan School of Public Health, has shown that individuals who followed a high-fibre diet were at a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer tumours.
Here in Ireland, a survey by National Adult Nutrition Survey and Safefood, discovered that only one third of Irish people are getting the recommended five-fold hit.
Combining servings in one drink that we can combine with lunch, carry in the car or on the train — much simpler — and kids are easily seduced by bright colours to sip.
Before racing out and buying an expensive, cold-pressing juicer, squeeze out a little honesty. Is this a treat, a little health whimsy, or likely to form a vital part of your lifestyle?
This will influence the type and price of machine you should buy.
Will you be making everything from orange juice to smoothies for the kids with the odd power drink when your belt tightens, or are you that dedicated wheatgrass imbiber?
Do you want to take out most of the fibre content, or would you prefer to just whip it all up into one enriched, nutritious drink?
Presuming you are not spending over a thousand on a hydraulic press, domestic juicers which remove rough fibre, are largely divided into masticating juicers and centrifuging juicers.
Cheaper again, nutrient blenders break all your ingredients down into a single drink, fibre included, a more textured but still precious fluid.
There are hundreds of scholarly articles on how juicing processes nutrients, but for most of us a mid-range machine will deliver close to the benefits of fresh fruit without the bore of bald, raw fruit and vegetables.
Cold-press juicers are expensive (€300 plus) but accepted as the best for yield from leafy greens, nuts and berries.
Expect very little noise as they ‘chew’ the best from your ingredients. They are deliberately slow (40-70rpm) but methodically extract a high yield of juice retaining its enzymes and minerals (beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C and more) from the plant fibre.
Masticating cold-press action using a horizontal or vertical auger introduces less air, less heat and therefore delivers a better shelf life to the juice.
Choose these slow ‘vertical’ or ‘horizontal’ single gear juicers and you’re looking at 5-10 mins for a typical run.
They are a favoured type of machine for anyone enjoying a regular inner ‘cleanse’. Try juicers.ie for a good selection of cold-press masticators.
Faster centrifuging machines with a spinning blade offer convenient run times at 80-100rmp and reasonably low heat, vital to preserving those nutrients.
Swift at exploding plant cells, they are significantly louder than a slow juicer and produce less fibrous waste (material removed from the juice by the slow juicer). Centrifuging juicers are cheaper, but go for a good branded machine, don’t get too cheap.
Performance can drop off wildly at the bottom of the juice box. Respected lines of 1000-1000w including the Sage line by Heston Blumenthal start at €165 but are reduced during sales.
For looks over budget, try the KitchenAid juicer in red with 3 pulp screens with storage bag, BPA-free juice pitcher with lid and foam screen, removable drip tray, €450, Brown Thomas.
Juicing rather than pulverising all the ingredients in one go as a Nutri-bullet does, involves waste.
The degree of waste, and the time and the trouble of cleaning that pulp out of the crevices of the machine is a deal maker or breaker for many buyers.
Explore how easily the filter screen is brushed out and rinsed as it can be a fiddly pain.
Blenders which retain all the fibre are comparable to a standard jug blender in terms of cleaning and some convert straight to a cup with a handle and snap lid for the fridge or car.
Vertical profiles in health blenders take up little counter room but lack capacity (.6l to 1.3l is typical), so expect to pay twice the price for higher literage, better accessory packs and higher watt motors. 600-900w has become the new standard, easily devouring hard fruits, vegetables and nuts with a varying degree of texture.
Top models come with a choice of blades, and can grind coffee and perform the duties of a standard blender including making soups, crushing ice and sauces.
The Nutribullet Magicbullet Rx-n17 even delivers hot soup in 7 minutes. €250. (Nutribullets from €85 for a 600w motor with other brands such as the Nutri-Ninja from €60.)
Blending whole fruit and vegetables retains fibre and greater volume, which as a dense, generous mix will make you feel full for longer.
You can add seeds, yogurts, nuts and powdered goodies to any mix if it retains a palatable taste.
The power of bioactive plant-produced compounds continues to astonish, but keep in mind that concentrated pure fruit juices, though easier to gulp down on the run is natural fructose (sugar) and high in calories.
Research the real nutrient and energy content of your favourite glassful and measure it out or dilute with high quality filtered water or coconut water.
Note: Anyone with a medical condition should consult with their doctor before making significant changes to their daily diet.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved