What's the deal with the cold pressed juice craze?

Published On: Feb 27 2014 09:20:19 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 28 2014 07:55:00 AM EST

When physical therapist Nicolas Bartolotta is looking for a jolt, he skips the caffeine and drinks a vegetable juice instead. 

"It makes me feel healthy and physically I actually get a boost of energy," he said.

But he's not reaching for just any juice. Bartolotta is into cold pressed juices.  They were once sold as liquid cleanses and now they're hitting the market at health food stores for a simple infusion of fruits and veggies on the go.    

"People who might not otherwise sit down to a big, large salad are getting two to three pounds of produce in an easy to drink, easy to consume, digestible way," explained Suja Juice co-founder, Annie Lawless.

That produce can include ingredients like kale, cucumber, collared greens and celery, with carrots or apples to give the juices a sweeter taste.  And these drinks have become hip.   

"They can be viewed as a status symbol. You know, in the same way that you might see someone, you know, proudly carrying their yoga mat around," said Jonas Feliciano, Beverage Analyst with Euromonitor International.

But these juices aren't cheap. They can cost up to ten dollars for a sixteen-ounce bottle. Felicano says that's due to the organic ingredients as well as the special pasteurization process.  

"Unlike those other brands, which use, sort of, flash pasteurization or, or high heat, these juices look to imitate the raw juices that are made at home," he said.

"Cold press juicing gently grinds the produce into a bag, and then that bag is pressed.  So you're retaining the most nutrient value as possible," Lawless added.

Feliciano says that claim is one of the reasons cold pressed options are a bright spot in the market even though overall juice consumption is down.

"This can really raise the value, and, and put more dollars into the, the juicing business," Feliciano added.

But do the juices live up to their nutritional hype?

"These juices can be a great way to grab something when you're on the run to still have some vegetables and some fruits in your diet. But they, they shouldn't what we rely on solely as our intake of fruits and vegetables," said Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

She says because the process of juicing extracts the fiber from the fruits and vegetables, you won't get all the digestive benefits you would from eating them whole.  

"You're probably going to get a lot more benefit if you were to just to have a salad. You want to ensure that if you do drink these juices on a regular basis that you're watching the calories because you're really concentrating the fruits and vegetables when you turn them into a juice, so the calories can really add up," she explained.

As for Bartolotta, he's made juicing part of his weekly routine, and he's not put off by the price tag.

"I would much rather spend a little bit more on a, on a juice - a fresh pressed, organic juice, versus spending it on coffee," he said.

If you're looking to infuse both nutrients and fiber into your diet, Giancoli suggests blending up a smoothie instead of a juice. That way, you get all the benefits of the whole fruits and vegetables in your glass.   

Links to some of the juices sold as cleanses: