The Benefits of Juicing: Part 3

By Kaitlin Mackay

In March, Starbucks bought Evolution Fresh, a company providing high-end smoothies and juices for its consumers. Two juice bars have opened so far, the first in Belluvue, WA and the second in Seattle, WA. At first glance at their website, Evolution Fresh looks like the real deal. Big and bold the consumer reads:

  1. SQUEEZED FRESH. We start with delicious fruits and vegetables. Then we crack, peel and squeeze them to bring out everything that’s good about them.
  2. BOTTLED COLD. Heat can rob juices of flavors and nutrients. So we use cold pressure to help maintain their natural taste.
  3. ENJOYED EXUBERANTLY. With more vitamins, enzymes and nutrients to enjoy in every sip, you’re ready to Squeeze Life for everything it’s got.

Looks good so far. +10 points for using cold pressure as the form of processing. Using heat in processing causes significant nutrient loss.

On the nutrition page for the bottled juices you learn exactly what is in each juice.

Whoa, that’s cool.

Evolution Fresh “Essential Greens” vegetable and fruit juice blend has 9 ½ stalks celery, 1/5 cucumber, 7 leaves spinach, 1/5 lime, ½ romaine, and a snip of wheat grass and clover sprouts. Sweet. But when I examined the nutrition labels closer, that sweet turned sour. My favorite bottled juice was Organic Strawberry Lemonade. Hey, props for it being an organic product. I’d give Evolution Fresh an organic high five if I could. On the other hand, I wasn’t impressed with the drink itself after reading the label.

There’s no one correct way to read a label. People have different needs and different goals so people read labels differently.  However, there are certain things that one should consider: Here is, thought by thought, how I interpreted the Organic Strawberry Lemonade Juice label:

  1. I always look at sugar first. I don’t do well with excessive sugar, especially added sugar. Sugars- 27g. That’s a lot of sugar. Fruit is loaded with suga so a high sugar content would make sense here but 27g is still too high.
  2. Next I check the ingredient’s list. Less is more in label-reading. I want it to be a short list, with ingredients I can easily pronounce and know the function of. Ingredients: filtered water, organic lemon juice, organic strawberry puree, and organic cane sugar. Hello added sugar. We know fruit has a lot of sugar in it, and since fruit was listed before cane sugar, the composition of the juice is made up more so from strawberry puree than it is cane sugar. That’s a plus. However, strawberry puree is not equivalent to fresh strawberry. Puree = processing. I always want minimally processed food products.
  3. Next are individual nutrients. Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 10% Calcium 2% Iron 0%. Very important. I personally wouldn’t consume a bottled beverage had it 27g of sugar in it, but if it was a good source of nutrients I would at least feel a little better about doing so. But this drink has NO vitamin A or iron, and minimal amounts of Vitamin C and Calcium. No thanks.
  4. Finally, calories. Calories- 120. Much lower than what I expected. Number of servings is probably to blame.
  5. Servings per container- about 2. Ahhhh. 27g of sugar turns into 54g of sugar, because who drinks half of a puny-sized juice?

I looked up the ingredients in the National Nutrient Database.

*lemon juice from1 ¾ lemon = 34g ascorbic acid (vitamin c) & 2g sugar

*8 strawberries = 2g fiber and 5g sugar 56g ascorbic acid and 147g potassium

So, that’s 90g of vitamin C and 7g of sugar in one serving; 180g vitamin C and 14g sugar in the whole bottle. Something happened from the time those lemons and strawberries were harvested to the time the consumer receives the product causing major nutrient loss. We should stick to natural, unprocessed foods as much as possible because where did all that vitamin C go? And the 7g sugar turned into 27g sugar HOW? We don’t know how. We know some came from the cane sugar. And the rest, well, we may or may not ever know because we don’t work in Evolution Fresh’s factory in California.

Is a “fruit juice” made from 1¾ lemons and 8 strawberries, containing almost no nutrients, with added sugar healthy? I don’t think so Evolution Fresh. But this was just one of their bottled products, and one of the worst. So I took a look at their fresh stuff to give them another chance.

I inspected the handcrafted juices and smoothies and a couple things stood out:

  • I could tell some of their juices and smoothies had a lot of sugar just by their name, before I even looked at the nutrition label. For example, Green Julep. Merriam-Webster defines julep as “a drink consisting of sweet syrup, flavoring, and water.” Doesn’t say anything about juice. Gross. Sweet Beet. Beets are packed with sugar, emphasis on the word packed. So um, sweet beet is somewhat repetitive and I’d put money on the juice having excessive sugar.
  • Vitamin and mineral content was much higher compared to bottled juices, but still had room for improvement. I was surprised at how low Vitamin C and fiber were and again the sugar content was way too high.
  • The specific ingredients of their handcrafted juices and smoothies weren’t on the website. Bit-a-Green handcrafted juice has cucumber, greens, ginger and apple, but how much apple compared to greens? And what the heck does greens means anyway? I called the Seattle location for further investigation.

What’s in the “greens” ingredient and what exactly is it?

“Celery, cucumber, spinach, romaine lettuce, lime and a snip of parsley and clover sprouts. It’s a juice blend.”

Do you use fresh ingredients?

“Yes.”

So if you were making a Spiced Carrot you would be using fresh-cut carrots and blueberries?

“Well no. We don’t use whole fruits and veggies. Our base in San Bernardino, California does everything there. They take fresh fruits and veggies, juice them for us and use pressure processing to kill the bad stuff. Then the juice is sent to us and we serve it here either in our smoothies or just as juice right from the tap.”

A juice tap, cool. The ingredients are listed for the handcrafted juices online as carrot, blueberries, and cinnamon. You use carrot juice. What about the blueberries?

“The Spiced Carrot is carrot juice, blueberry puree and cinnamon. And that’s pretty much how they all are, like the Field of Greens is greens juice, ginger, apple juice and cucumber puree.”

Online there aren’t details on amounts of each ingredient in the handcrafted juices like how many cucumbers to apples in the Field of Greens?

“I can’t tell you that, it’s against policy.”

A health nut opinion (My thoughts): They’re doing the right thing in processing by way of flash and high pressure pasteurization (HPP). HPP yields better nutrient retention in fresh fruit and vegetable compared to other processing methods. Vitamin C and other nutrient decay within this type of processing is dependent only on the time held at high pressure and most studies have shown HPP keeps foods in their prime for up to two months. Not only are vitamin C and antioxidants still around after using HPP, its use helps to preserve vegetable and fruit’s fresh-like properties, like scent and color.

But I don’t think juice, processed, packaged and shipped from California to Washington, represents, by definition, a “fresh ingredient”. That’s my personal opinion. I understand why they wouldn’t tell me how much of each juice or puree goes into their handcrafted juices. But still I would love to know. It might help me to figure out why their “Bit-a-Green” contains their greens juice, which should be packed full of vitamin A from its spinach and parsley, yet the 16oz Bit-a-Green only has 4% of our DV. Hmmm.

Looking at the big picture, Evolution Fresh does pretty much everything they can to retain the freshness of fruits and vegetables in their juice, which has a long journey from California to Washington. The fact that they are processing with HPP, never heating to preserve nutrition quality, and using minimal additives in their juices, is excellent. However, although they make an effort to retain nutrients, somewhere along the way nutrients are being significantly lost, and the labels go to prove it. If I ever visit Seattle, I’d definitely visit Evolution Fresh and try one of their juices. But for now, I’ll stick with doing my own juicing. I know exactly what’s in my juice and where it came from.

 

Missed Juicing parts 1 and 2, Click HERE for Part 1 and Click HERE Part 2

 

References:

http://www.evolutionfresh.com/assets/files/Evolution_Nutritional_Information.pdf

http://www.evolutionfresh.com/en-us/locations/bellevue-store/menu#handcrafted-smoothies

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/list

Ankit Patras, Nigel P. Brunton, Sara Da Pieve, Francis Butler (2009). Impact of high pressure processing on total antioxidant activity, phenolic, ascorbic acid, anthocyanin content and colour of strawberry and blackberry purées, Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, 10:3 308-313.

Sanchez-Moreno et al. High pressure stabilization of orange juice: Evaluation of the effects of process conditions. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2003, 51, 647-653