Is HPP Juice Worth Your Gold?

Evolution Fresh Hits HonoluluJust a year after receiving my Starbucks Gold Card, recently the  company emailed me that my Gold rewards status had fallen back to green and I had “lost all my Stars.” Dear Me! 

A life-long coffee lover, I stopped drinking coffee around the time I began practicing a mostly raw vegan diet, though I still enjoy the aroma and the occasional sip of coffee while borrowing Starbucks’ internet.

Recently, when Evolution Fresh juices arrived on Starbucks’ shelves in Honolulu, I thought I had found a new way to restore my coveted “Gold” status: Juice!

I wrote about Starbucks acquiring Evolution Fresh a couple years ago for its Cold-Pressed and High Pressure Processing (HPP) juice technologies. In addition to Evolution Fresh, there are many other national brands using HPP, such as Suja Juice (carried by Whole Foods), and more to come!

What is Pascalization?

At first I thought “HPP” was something new, but when I learned that another term for HPP was “Pascalization” (named after 17th century French scientist Blaise Pascal) I knew it must be pretty old! 

Suja Elements Line-up at Whole FoodsAccording to Wikipedia:

Pascalization stops chemical activity caused by microorganisms (yeast, mold and bacteria) that play a role in the deterioration of foods. The treatment occurs at low temperatures and does not include the use of food additives. From 1990, some juices, jellies, and jams have been preserved using pascalization in Japan.

If You’re Expecting Fresh-Squeezed Juice Taste, Think Again!

If you’ve had fresh-squeezed “raw” organic juice, you know that nothing is more nutritious or better tasting than fresh. This is especially true for juice extracted with a cold-press, which preserves the greatest flavor, vitamins, minerals, phyto-chemicals and enzymes found in vegetables and fruits.

I prefer “green” juices made primarily from celery, cucumbers and dark leafy greens-because they have the greatest nutrition and least sugar to begin with. Compared to HPP, pasteurization uses heat-which destroys many nutrients and increases natural sugar content- to preserve juice at room temperature for months or years. And what do you think happens to the taste?

When I contacted a popular orange juice maker to ask about the nutrition in, and the details of the “flash pasteurization” of their “Premium” (not from concentrate) orange juice product. Flash pasteurization is supposed to use lower temperatures and preserve more nutrients. Their reply? “By law, the amount of nutrients on Nutrition Facts Panels must reflect the minimum amount found in the package on the Best if Used By Date. Unfortunately, the time and temperature of our pasteurization process is proprietary. I hope this helps.”

In fact, it did help…to open my eyes and see that even expensive “flash-pasteurized” juice is the farthest thing from healthy-with none of the living plant enzymes or phyto-chemicals remaining!

For those without a juicer at home or a fresh juice bar in your neighborhood, bottled juices consumed as quickly as possible (within hours up to 1-2 days) after juicing (increasingly available by delivery and mail-order) is the next best thing. Then there’s HPP, with a shelf life of 3-4 weeks.

HPP-A Great (300 year-old) Advance?

Of course, HPP juice will cost you a lot more than pasteurized juices-in fact, almost the same price as fresh juice ($11-$12 for 16oz) in some cases. But it’s worth it for convenience, right?

Some experts say that while HPP juice does taste fresher than pasteurized juice, they are not as nutritionally superior as their manufacturers may lead you to believe. In this NY Times article, Pioneering Raw Food Chef Matthew Kenney says  “If you’re traveling [HPP juice] is a better option than drinking a soda. I just don’t think it’s something that could compare to something that’s made to order.”

While I agree wholeheartedly that HPP can’t touch fresh raw juice, I’ll go out on a limb to say that HPP juice is definitely better than soda and pasteurized juices manufactured by companies best known for their junk food!

So, Which HPP Juice Is Best?

Though there are an increasing number of HPP juice companies, I compared the only two available locally: Evolution Fresh and Suja Elements (exclusively sold at Whole Foods).

Both juices sell for about $6.50 a bottle. Since Suja is smaller (12oz/354ml) vs Evolution Fresh (15.2oz/450ml) I thought it was a better deal, until I realized Evolution Fresh “Sweet Greens and Lemon” was not organic (albeit some of their other juices are organic). If you care, be sure to check the labels!

Besides Suja Elements juice being all organic, the other advantage is its bottle, which is BPA (Bisphenol A)-free. Do be careful that you look for “vegan” on the Suja’s label, as some of their juices contain “filtered dairy protein!”

Below is a comparison of the ingredients and nutrition (8oz/240ml) of my two favorite flavors:

Suja Juice “King of Greens”-Apple, cucumber, celery, kale, collards, spinach, lemon, ginger, chlorella, spirulina.

Evolution Fresh “Sweet Greens and Lemon”-Celery, apple, cucumber, spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, lime, lemon, parsley, wheat grass, clover sprouts.

Suja Elements “King of Greens” Evolution Fresh “Sweet Greens and Lemon”
Calories 72 50
Sodium 57 150
Total Carbs 18 11
-Sugars 11 10
Protein 1 1
Vitamin A 2.67% 4.21%
Vitamin C 13.33% 3.16%
Calcium 6.67% 3.16%
Iron 2.67% 1.05%

Although not exactly an “apples to apples” comparison (nor in the least bit scientific), it does seem as though the Suja Elements juice has a better nutritional profile. In addition, the high amount of sodium in the Evolution Fresh is a concern .

While I have given up redeeming my Gold, I will continue to seek out the freshest and best tasting juices (outside of home) possible. In that spirit, my next post will review the fresh and local/organic juice bar offerings in Honolulu! If you have any favorite places, please let me know in the comments!

This post is also available in: Japanese

5 thoughts on “Is HPP Juice Worth Your Gold?

  1. kailuabear

    Hi Will,
    I appreciate you going into great detail to give us, your readers, a thorough review of this drink.
    With so many “healthy” beverages floating around these days, one needs a paddle to navigate through
    the ship load of choices.
    I’m wondering; do you/did you ever have a juicer? Just saying that $6.50 is more than I would want to pay when I can juice whatever I want, know that it is fresh, organic, and that it will be way, way cheaper.
    Thank you for your informative, and enjoyable, blog posts.
    Verily Vegan,

  2. william Post author

    Hi, Terry. Juicing at home is certainly the way to go! I had a centrifugal juicer when I lived in Japan and used to make apple carrot ginger juice a lot. I don’t currently own a juicer, as it would be too heavy for my luggage! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  3. Kiko

    Wow! Thank you for doing the thorough research on this!

    I purchased a twin gear juicer, which costed about $700 total, about a decade ago. That was such a wise investment and the juicer still works great now 🙂
    Now a days, I think twice or more before purchasing a packaged drink as I know that nothing beats home made juice. I try to make my own juice or bring a lemon water if I know I stay outside for more than a few hours.

    Thank you for providing the information in Japanese too, so I can share it with my friends in Japan 🙂

  4. william Post author

    Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing my blog! Isn’t fresh juice amazing? I purchased a masticating juicer, too, but haven’t gotten around to posting about it. It’s great when you can make juice at home whenever you want.

  5. Douglas Gray

    Trader Joes HHP Green Juice (16 oz) has five grams of protein, and lots of minerals; at $5 a pint, is more economical than Suja, et all. One person who has done lots of fasting says he can’t tell much difference between using HHP juice and freshly pressed juice. You can make the same juice at home, but it is a lot of work!! You can hang on to some exaggerated notion of “aliveness”, “freshness” and “purity”, or you can save yourself a lot of time. One tip, when you buy TJ’s HHP, grab one from the back of the column when you reach in to the fridge section.

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