Drinking smoothies and juices can have a huge effect on the amount of fruits and vegetables that people consume – which is all good of course. But is one drink better than the other?
Let’s find out.
Smoothies vs Juices : What’s the difference?
A smoothie is blend of whole fruits and vegetables. If you add liquid like water, coconut water or plant milk, they can be a juice-like consistency, but you will still be eating fruit and veg in their entirety.
Essentially smoothies or blends are just your fruit and veg in a different form.
Juices are different.
Juicing extracts the liquid from fruits and vegetables, leaving you with the micronutrients from the produce and the sugar in liquid form. All the fibre is removed.
If juicing gives you all the micronutrients from the fruit and veg – why are smoothies better?
It’s all in the fibre.
Why does the fibre matter?
Fibre is one of the magic ingredients that makes fruit and vegetables so health promoting. Take away the fibre and you take away a whole lot of potential the goodness.
Fibre is essential to keep our digestive systems in good working order and everything moving through as it should. It helps to eliminate waste and toxins from our body.
Fibre has also been shown to be protective against diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, obesity, certain cancers, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.
We definitely want to be eating our fibre and the vast majority of people (way over 90%) are NOT EATING ENOUGH FIBRE!!
It feeds the microbes
Even though the fibre part of plants is indigestible to us, it is digestible by our gut bacteria.
In essence the fibre we consume is the raw material that feeds our healthy microbes. These microbes help to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria, increase mineral absorption, enhance the immune system, improve digestion, encourage weight loss, and good bacteria can even make their own vitamins.
So we want to be feeding our microbes too.
Juicing doesn’t just remove the fibre though….
Even though it might appear that juicing only removes the fibre and leaves all those fantastic health promoting micronutrients, like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in tact – this isn’t the case.
As it turns out there are a lot of nutrients that are bound so tightly to the fibre that if you remove the fibre, you remove all these nutrients as well.
These nutrients are polyphenols which are phytochemicals found abundantly in plant foods and are powerful antioxidants. Some polyphenols you may have heard of are resveratrol, caipacin, and rosmarinic.
As it turns out, most polyphenols are locked so tight to the fibre, that even juicing can’t shake them off. They only become available to us as nutrients once the fibre reaches our gut and the bacteria there start to digest it. The polyphenol compounds are then freed from the fibre and we are able to absorb them.
Fibre changes the way we process sugar
Fibre also plays an important role in the way we process sugar. When the sugar in fruit is absorbed along with fibre, the release of sugar into the blood stream is significantly slowed. This means that we don’t suffer the same spike in blood sugar that we would if we drank a glass of sugar water (or juice!).
Smoothies can even be better than the whole foods
While juicing removes the fibre and a lot of the polyphenol antioxidant goodness, blending your fruit and veg can actually enhance the nutritional benefits of foods.
Carotenoid phytonutrients, like betacarotene and alpha carotene can exist as microscopic crystals trapped within the cell walls of plants. These nutrients are only released when the cells are disrupted, which is why we should chew food well.
For maximum nutrient release these cells should be broken down into teeny tiny particles, smaller than the width of plant cells. Although chewing definitely helps release nutrients, we cannot chew as well as we can blend!
Forty seconds in a blender can break spinach down to a sub cellular level, while the average size of a chewed particle it still greater than 2mm.
By breaking open the cells of the fruit and veg we release a lot more nutrition. Therefore we get much more bang for our buck when we eat all the healthy fruit and veg.
After all it is not just the food we eat that is important but how much of the nutrients we actually absorb.
We can eat parts of the fruit or veg we might not otherwise eat
Smoothies allow us to consume parts of the fruit or veg that we might now otherwise eat. A few seeds, and a bit of peel are no problem for most blenders and mean that we are getting extra nutrients as well.
Smoothies are more adaptable than juices
You can add healthy foods to your blender that you just couldn’t add to your smoothie.
This means you can boost your drink with things like sprouts, superfood powders, chia and hemp seeds, avocados, bananas, nuts and nut butters. Try putting nut butter into a juicer – it wouldn’t be pretty.
Smoothies keep you full for longer
Because of all that fibre and bulk in a smoothie, they are far more satisfying to drink than a juice and will keep you full for longer. A smoothie can even be used as a tasty and convenient meal replacement. A great way to get in a big part of your daily dose of fruit and veg.
FYI – the more greens you add to your smoothie the more filling it will be.
Juicing uses a LOT of produce
Because the great bulk of the fruit and veg is removed when you juice, juicing uses up a whole lot more produce than making a blend.
So as well as being better for your health, smoothies are healthier for your wallet too.
Sometimes juicing is good
There are times when juicing might be a better option.
Juices are great if you are looking to do a cleanse. You receive a lot of the micronutrients from the produce that you juice but you give your digestive system a little bit of a break by not asking it to tackle all the fibre.
Sensitive to fibre
It can take time for people to adjust to eating the amount of fibre their bodies really need. It is often a good idea to introduce fibre slowly to your diet if this it is new to you.
In this case juicing may be a good option sometimes and will allow you to get some of the goodness of fruits and veg while avoiding some of the digestive complications of eating more fibre than you can manage. If you start to slowly introduce fibre into your diet, this shouldn’t be a problem for long and then you can get blending.
Except in a very few circumstances it looks like SMOOTHIES are the hands down winner as the best refreshing liquid way to be getting in your fruit and veg!
If you are looking to up your health game by incorporating smoothies and more fruit and veg into your daily regime why not join my 7-a-day fruit and veg challenge?
You’ll get five fantastic free smoothie recipes to get you started and lots of simple tips and tricks you can use to help you get more plants on your plate. The best news is it’s all FREE.
So what have you got to lose? Join the challenge and kickstart an awesome health fruit and veg habit.I’d love to join the challenge – sign me up