Cold-pressing is a method of extracting juice or oil from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds without the use of heat. It has become a popular buzzword in health circles, with claims that cold-pressed juices and oils are more nutritious than traditionally made varieties.
How Cold-Pressing Works
The cold-press process uses powerful hydraulic presses to apply high pressure to extract liquids and oils. The produce is first washed, chopped, and then pressed at a very low temperature. This allows the preservation of vital nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may be lost through other extraction methods that use high heat.
Cold-pressed juices retain fiber and nutrients that centrifugal and heat extraction methods filter out. Centrifugal juicers operate at high speeds to separate juice from fiber, generating heat that destroys enzymes and nutrients. Heat extraction uses steam or boiling to extract oils, again eliminating beneficial compounds.
In contrast, cold-pressing is a slower, more complex method. But proponents believe the retention of nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals leads to a better tasting, more nutritious product.
Benefits of Cold-Pressed Juices
There are several proposed benefits to drinking cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices:
- Higher vitamin and mineral levels – Heat and high-speed oxidation destroy nutrients. Cold pressing preserves them.
- More enzymes – Enzymes help digest food. Cold-pressed juices retain more active enzymes.
- No added sugars or preservatives – Cold pressing eliminates the need for these additives.
- Phytonutrient preservation – These beneficial plant compounds are preserved by cold pressing.
- Better taste – Heat and oxidation create free radicals that damage flavor. Cold pressing avoids this.
- Longer shelf life – Lack of oxygen exposure prevents spoilage and fermentation.
While controlled studies are still limited, there is some evidence supporting these proposed benefits. Still, more research is needed to confirm advantages over traditionally extracted juices.
Benefits of Cold-Pressed Oils
Cold-pressed oils like olive, coconut, and avocado oil are growing in popularity. Advocates claim they retain more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds compared to conventionally refined oils. Proposed benefits include:
- Higher antioxidant levels – Cold pressing preserves antioxidant phytochemicals like polyphenols.
- Improved stability – Phytochemicals also act as antioxidants to slow rancidity and extend shelf life.
- Better taste – Phytochemicals and lack of heat exposure maintain flavor.
- Nutrient retention – Vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients are retained.
- Hypoallergenic – Lack of high heat avoids creating irritating compounds.
As with juices, existing research shows promise but requires more study. Still, there does appear to be good evidence that cold-pressed oils retain more beneficial plant compounds.
Nutrient Retention in Cold-Pressed Products
Several studies have looked at specific nutrient levels in cold-pressed versus conventionally processed juices and oils. Some findings:
- Up to 90% more antioxidants in cold-pressed pomegranate juice.
- 70% higher vitamin C levels in cold-pressed orange juice.
- 2-3 times more polyphenols in cold-pressed olive oil.
- 54% higher lutein levels in cold-pressed avocado oil.
While results vary based on the food tested, cold pressing consistently retains higher levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols, and other plant compounds.
Downsides of Cold-Pressed Products
There are some potential downsides to choosing cold-pressed juices and oils:
- Price – Cold-pressed products tend to cost significantly more than conventionally made varieties due to lower yields and higher production costs.
- Oxidation – Phytochemicals that protect against oxidation also make these products more prone to damage from light, heat, and oxygen exposure during storage.
- Allergies – Lack of pasteurization means cold-pressed juices may contain trace allergens like shellfish and tree nuts.
- Soil quality – Nutrient levels depend heavily on soil health where plants are grown.
Cold pressing alone does not guarantee a healthy or high-quality product. Factors like farming practices, handling, and storage impact end nutrition and taste. Still, cold pressing does seem to offer real benefits over conventional processing methods.
Cold-Pressed vs Organic
Cold-pressed and organic are two separate designations. Cold-pressed refers only to the extraction method, while organic certifies how plants are grown:
- Organic – Certified organic produce comes from farms meeting USDA organic standards. These regulations govern soil quality, pesticide/fertilizer use, and other factors.
- Cold-pressed – This involves the method of extracting juice and oil at low temperatures to preserve nutrients.
So it is possible to have cold-pressed juices or oils that are not organic. And vice versa – organic produce could be used to make juices and oils using traditional high-heat methods.
Is Cold-Pressed Worth the Cost?
Cold-pressed juices and oils do tend to be significantly more expensive than traditionally processed versions. Whether they are worth the added cost depends on your priorities:
- If you want maximum nutrient levels, the higher cost may be justified.
- If you’re concerned about pesticides or additives, cold pressing avoids these.
- If you won’t consume them quickly, the shelf life benefit may not apply.
- If budget is a main factor, traditional versions may meet your needs.
In the end, choosing cold-pressed is a personal decision based on your health goals, budget, and how quickly you will use the product.
How to Select Quality Cold-Pressed Products
Not all cold-pressed juices and oils are equal. Here are tips for choosing quality:
- Look for dark glass bottles to protect from light.
- Choose those bottled directly after pressing.
- Avoid added sugars, gums, and preservatives in juices.
- Select oils labelled “extra-virgin” and “unrefined.”
- Research farming practices – organic is ideal.
- Keep refrigerated and use within a few weeks of pressing.
High-quality cold-pressed products will often cost more but deliver superior nutrition, flavor, and health value. Checking farming methods, minimal processing, and proper storage indicators on the label helps ensure you get the full benefits.
Cold-Pressed Juice vs Smoothies
|Ingredient texture||No pulp or fiber||Contains pulp/fiber|
|Nutrient content||Vitamins and minerals only||Contains fat, protein, fiber|
|Calories||Lower calorie||Higher calorie|
|Sugar content||Higher glycemic load||Lower glycemic load|
|Satiety||Less filling||More filling|
Cold-pressed juices contain just extracted liquid, while smoothies retain the fiber and other components of whole produce. For a quick nutrient boost, juice has advantages. But smoothies tend to be more filling and have a balanced nutritional profile.
Cold-Pressed Oil Extraction Methods
There are three main methods of extracting oils using cold pressing:
Rack and Cloth Pressing
A simple manual technique used mainly by small artisanal producers. Oil-rich material like seeds or nuts are crushed into a paste that is spread onto a cloth. The cloth is folded and run between metal racks under pressure to squeeze out oil.
This industrial method uses an electrically powered hydraulic press to generate high pressure. The material is pressed between grooved metal plates that maximize oil extraction. Hydraulic pressing yields more oil than hand pressing.
The cold-pressed material first goes through a screw-style press. The resulting oily liquid is then put in a centrifuge for separation. The centrifuge uses rapid spinning to separate residual solids from the oil.
Centrifuge extraction maximizes yields. But some believe the rapid spinning damages nutrients. Hydraulic pressing is considered the optimal balance of yield and nutrition.
Cold-Pressed vs Unrefined Oils
Cold-pressed and unrefined are sometimes used interchangeably to indicate gentle processing. But differences include:
- Cold-pressed – Oils extracted using only non-heat methods like pressing.
- Unrefined – Oils that do not undergo any refining after extraction.
So cold-pressed means no heat was used in extraction. Unrefined means there was no additional processing or refinement of the oil after extraction. An oil could be cold-pressed then refined. Or extracted using heat but not refined after.
Common Cold-Pressed Oils
Some of the most common cold-pressed oils include:
- Olive oil – The most widely used cold-pressed oil revered for its flavor and heart health benefits.
- Coconut oil – Growing in popularity for its versatility and potential effects on metabolism and cognition.
- Avocado oil – Valued for its high smoke point and monounsaturated fatty acids that may reduce inflammation.
- Walnut oil – Has a rich nutty flavor and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
- Almond oil – Light in flavor and texture, with uses for cooking, skincare, and aromatherapy.
- Flaxseed oil – Highly nutritious oil rich in omega-3s that should not be used for cooking.
Cold-Pressed vs Expeller Pressed
Expeller pressing is similar to cold pressing but may use slightly higher temperatures. Differences include:
- Cold-pressed – Presses material at cool room temperatures below 120°F.
- Expeller-pressed – Can raise temperatures up to 210°F during pressing.
Producers who use higher temperature expeller pressing still consider their oils “cold-pressed.” But oils pressed below 120°F retain more nutrients. True cold-pressed oils are never heated over room temperature during extraction.
Nutritional Content of Cold-Pressed Oils
|Olive oil||Monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, polyphenols|
|Coconut oil||Medium chain triglycerides, lauric acid|
|Avocado oil||Oleic acid, carotenoids, vitamins A, D, E, K|
|Walnut oil||Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA omega-3), polyphenols|
|Almond oil||Vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, phytosterols|
|Flaxseed oil||Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA omega-3)|
Cold-pressed oils provide a concentrated source of beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Specific nutrients vary based on the original plant source.
Should Cold-Pressed Oils be Refrigerated?
Opinions differ on whether cold-pressed oils need refrigeration. The key considerations include:
- Oxidation – Colder temperatures slow oxidation, preserving oil freshness and phytochemicals.
- Cloudiness – Some oils become cloudy or solidify when refrigerated but regain liquidity at room temp.
- Light – Refrigerators may filter out some light, offering protection.
- Moisture – Fridge humidity could encourage spoilage over very long storage times.
For most people, refrigerating opened cold-pressed oils is recommended to help extend freshness. But oils that become solid or cloudy can be kept in a cool cupboard. Oils should be used within a few weeks to a few months after opening.
How Long Does Cold-Pressed Oil Last?
Unopened cold-pressed oils can last from 6 months up to 2 years from the pressing date. After opening, maximum shelf life depends on the oil:
- Extra virgin olive oil – 6 months
- Avocado, almond, walnut oils – 8-12 months
- Coconut, grapeseed oils – 12-18 months
- Flaxseed oil – 2-3 months
Proper storage helps maximize freshness and nutritional value:
- Store in dark glass bottles in a cool, dark place.
- Refrigerate after opening.
- Minimize oxygen exposure by keeping bottles full.
- Avoid direct light which accelerates spoilage.
Use smell and taste to check for rancidity before consumption. Discard any oils that smell or taste off.
Cold-pressing provides a low-heat process to extract beneficial plant oils and juices. Evidence shows these products retain higher levels of nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, and beneficial phytochemicals compared to hot extraction methods. While more research is still needed, choosing quality cold-pressed oils and juices offers science-based health and nutrition advantages over conventionally processed versions.