Are Green Juices Healthy or Just Hype?

Over the past few years, juicing has morphed from an exclusive trend in the healthy living community into a national obsession. These days, everyone's talking about juice cleanses, aloe vera juice, and green juices. At-home juicer sales are skyrocketing while juiceries are spreading across the country like wildfire.

But if you thought you knew juice—you've been drinking it since before you could walk, after all—think again. Talk to any juicing devotee or check out any juice brand's website, and you'll come across terms like pasteurization, cold-pressing, and live enzymes. It can all get a little confusing, so we turned to Keri Glassman, R.D., a Konsyl spokesperson, to set us straight on the lingo, myths, and facts about juicing.

SHAPE: What's the difference between pasteurized and cold-pressed juices?
Keri Glassmann (KG): There's a major distinction between pasteurized juice—like the OJ you'd find at the grocery store—and cold-pressed juice from your local juice bar or shipped fresh to your door.

When juice is pasteurized, it's heated at a very high temperature, which protects it against bacteria and prolongs shelf life. However this heating process also destroys live enzymes, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients.

Cold pressing, on the other hand, extracts juice by first crushing the fruits and vegetables, and then pressing them to squeeze out the highest juice yield, all without using heat. This produces a drink that's thicker and has about three to five times more nutrients than normal juice. The downside is that cold-pressed juices typically last for up to three days when refrigerated—if not, they develop harmful bacteria—so it's crucial to buy them fresh and drink them quickly.

RELATED: We shook and sipped to find the best-tasting green juices, whether you're a newbie or hardcore drinker.

SHAPE: What are the benefits of green juice?
KG: Green juices are a great way to get in your recommended servings of fresh produce, especially if you have a hard time fitting in loads of broccoli, kale, collards, or cucumbers in your everyday diet. Most green juices pack two servings of fruits and veggies into each bottle, so they're a healthy way to sneak in nutrients if you've been slacking on salads lately. But keep in mind that juicing does strip produce of dietary fiber, which is found in the pulp and skin of produce and aids in digestion, regulates blood sugar levels, and keeps you feeling full longer. So whole foods are still the optimal way to ensure you're getting plenty of fiber in your diet.

SHAPE: What should I look for on the label of cold-pressed juice?
KG: As a general rule, stick to green juices made mostly with leafy greens, which are much lower in sugar than fruit-based options. Take a good look at the nutrition stats: Some bottles are considered two servings, so keep that in mind when checking calories and sugar content. Also think about the purpose of your juice—is it part of a meal or just a snack? If I'm having a green juice for a snack, I like to enjoy half a bottle with a handful of nuts for some added fiber and protein.

RELATED: Bad skin? Always tired? Stressed? Find the best juice for what's bugging you.

SHAPE: What's the deal with juice cleanses?
KG: A multiple-day, juice-only detox diet doesn't seem necessary for our bodies, which naturally detox through the liver, kidney, and GI tract. There's no scientific evidence to suggest that our bodies need help getting rid of waste products, and I wouldn't recommend a cleanse in place of a normal diet.

Anxious to try a cold-pressed green juice today? Visit Pressed Juice Directory, a comprehensive listing of over 700 locations across the country that sell organic pressed juices. The site, founded and curated by Max Goldberg, one of the nation's leading organic food experts, lets you search by city or state so you can find the freshest juices available in your area.

Tell us below or on Twitter @Shape_Magazine: Are you a fan of green juices? Do you buy yours from a store or make it at home?

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