How to buy a blender or juicer

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Frozen margaritas may be calling your name, but before you dash to the store to pick up a blender, make sure you1020 know your blender from your juicer, and your Vitamix from your Magic Bullet. Confused? Hereís what you need to know before you buy a blender or a juicer.

Learn the difference between a blender and a juicer. A juicer extracts vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, leaving behind the fiber, making it easy to consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables in one drink, said Jennifer Koslo, registered dietitian nutritionist based in Austin, Texas, and author of "The 21-Day Health Smoothie Plan." Blending breaks up the fiber, so itís easier to digest, but leaves it in the drink, so you get the same benefits as if you were eating the whole foods. Juicing requires a juicer that can remove the pulp from fruits and vegetables, and you can expect to spend about $200 for a quality piece of equipment, Koslo said.

Figure out how to get the most nutrients. Food scientists at Texas A&M University made grapefruit juice using a blender, a hand squeezer and an electric juicer. The juice from the blender had higher levels of beneficial phytonutrients (it had a sevenfold higher content of naringin, which has been linked to cancer-fighting properties) compared with the juice made from the electric juicer and hand juicer (they both had the same levels).

Understand the price level. With an expensive blender, such as the Vitamix, Blendtec or Waring, you are paying for the power and the warranty. The power is determined by watts, and these high-end models have 1,300 to 1,600 watts. They also offer long-term warranties of five to eight years, said Shannon Lerda, CEO of The Blender Experts, a Nebraska-based online resource for everything that blends. For midpriced blenders, such as the Ninja and Oster Versa, $150 to $250, you typically see lower power levels and a shorter warranty period. The exception is the Cleanblend ($179 at www.cleanblend.com

Decide what youíre blending. If you plan on putting nuts, leafy greens or whole fruits into a drink, youíll need to go with a high-speed blender. With a blender like the Vitamix, you can make nut milks which will come out creamy, but if you put the nuts into a lower-watt blender, they will stay chunky, said Samantha Salmon, a Chicago-based integrative nutrition health coach and owner of Earthís Healing Cafe. You can put kale and whole apples into a high-wattage blender; low-wattage blenders are fine for softer fruits, such as bananas, Salmon said.

Learn the difference between juicers. "There are nonelectric juicers for single-purpose use, such as a manual citrus juicer or a hand-crank operated wheat-grass juicer," said Kelly Hoogenakker, Chicago-based holistic health coach and owner of Fresh Ground Health. "In the electric-powered world, there are centrifugal juicers, which use a combo of sharp blades and something like the spin-cycle of a washing machine to extract the juice." These are typically fast but donít always extract as much juice as other methods; theyíre prone to overheating and destroying valuable nutrients, Hoogenakker said. There are auger, twin gear and masticating juicers (aka slow juicers) that crush or press produce to extract the juice. These tend to do a better job of extracting more juice and avoiding overheating. The latest trend in juicing is cold-pressed, which claim to include the most nutrients and to product the purest juice. But getting a juice press machine for the home is very expensive, and there are few good options, so this hasnít become too popular yet, Hoogenakker said.