Let’s talk about a controversial subject.
The Uber driver that picked me up from LAX a few weeks ago was a friendly middle-aged woman with a big smile and a positive outlook on life. She started chatting up a storm about her ideas for a holistic healing center, including a sensory deprivation tank with a lazy river.
I zoned out for a few minutes with imagery in my head of a bunch of lifeless looking bodies bouncing around a lazy river when she interrupted—”So, what do you do for a living??”
I explained that I own a company that manufactures cold-pressed juice equipment. Her attitude immediately turned from cheerful to serious, and she stated, “Well, I don’t know why anyone would want to throw away all that fiber. My Vitamix doesn’t make any waste.”
I replied “Smoothies are great too!” Then silence. She was done talking, and didn’t want to hear what I had to say on the matter. She turned up the music and we sat in the busy LA traffic for the remainder of the trip to Venice. When I exited, I wished her good luck on her venture. She didn’t even pretend to get out to help me with my luggage.
I wish I could say this attitude isn’t typical, but the truth is many people like to take sides on the matter. Let’s go ahead and look at the differences between juice and smoothies.
Juice is the liquid extracted from fruit and vegetables that contains all the good plant stuff like nutrients and enzymes.
It’s true that when you make juice you discard the flesh of the produce which contains insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber, when consumed, aids in digestion by passing through the body relatively intact. In some produce, however, a third or more of the fiber is in the juice itself—in the form of soluble fiber. Ingredients with high soluble fiber content include kale, apple, spinach, pineapple, and carrots—which are all very common juicing ingredients. Whether or not a person needs the insoluble fiber contained in the plants depends on how much fiber said person is getting as part of their regular diet, and if they need the extra fiber to help with digestion. Most people do not need all the fiber they get from a smoothie.
The fact that the dietary fiber is removed is also an advantage—and perhaps the single most important aspect of juicing. Normally the body has to work very hard to extract nutrients out of plants, but in the case of juicing, that process has already been started by extracting the liquid from the fibrous plant cells. This allows nutrients to enter the bloodstream in the fastest way possible, and with the least amount of energy used by the body. Soluble fiber slows this process down.
Related reading: How Do Juicers Work?
A smoothie is a beverage made from the process of blending fruit, vegetable, and liquid (needed in order to blend properly) into a puree. Sometimes seeds, cores, and skin are removed prior to blending.
A smoothie is basically a salad that you can eat through a straw. A person drinking a smoothie is getting all the same great nutrients that one would get from eating fruit and vegetables. Both soluble and dietary fiber are present in a smoothie, as well as all the nutrients and enzymes. As mentioned above, the body does need to work a little harder extracting nutrients from dietary fiber than it does from extracting nutrients from juice.
Smoothies can contain fruit that is difficult or impossible to juice, like mango and banana. It’s also easy to add ingredients like almond butter, cacao powder, or other superfoods. For this reason, smoothies are often more of a meal replacement than a beverage.
It’s worth noting that some smoothie shops add really awful stuff to smoothies, like almond milk with artificial ingredients, fruit powders instead of real fruit, and even pure sugar. Be cautious of ingredients like “non-fat frozen yogurt,” which is a way for them to sneak in a ton of added sugar. If you’re not sure if the local smoothie shop adds anything to the smoothie, ask! You might be surprised.
Is Blending Better Than Juicing?
There’s no wrong way to eat raw fruit and vegetables
Consuming raw plants is the closest you can get to getting energy directly from the sun. When it comes to juice vs smoothies, the debate should be turned away from “Which is better?” into “Which do I need right now?” Everyone is different, including our dietary needs and lifestyles.
Personally I love having a mostly fruit (and some greens) smoothie for breakfast, and green juice throughout the day. I don’t know why exactly, but my body tells me to do it that way. It might be that after 12+ hours of no calorie intake that’s what my body needs. It might just be because I’m hungry. Either way, it feels better to me and as long as what I’m ingesting into my body is made from raw fruit and vegetables, any way I do it is fine!
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