I often advise my nutrition clients to bring in a daily smoothie as an easy way to boost their health and energy levels. In this article I will answer three questions I am often asked:
– Why do we need juices or smoothies?
– What’s the difference between a juice and a smoothie?
– Which one is better?
Why do we need juices or smoothies?
Just search on the internet and you will find many claims of using juices and smoothies for weight loss, perfect skin and abundant energy.
We all know that we should be eating more fruit and vegetables for our health – at least 7 a day (5 veg, 2 fruit). If you think this is high, then compare it to Canada, which aims for 10 portions while Japan aims for 17!
Juices and smoothies offer quick and easy ways to increase our intake of vegetables and fruit. The theory is that juices and smoothies break down foods mechanically, reducing the need for chewing, making nutrients readily absorbable and freeing up energy for other purposes in the body, such as repair. They both can help with hydration and its subsequent benefits, such as improved energy levels.
What’s the difference between a juice and a smoothie?
The process of juicing removes most of the fibre, leaving behind the juice. The benefit of removing the fibre is easy absorption – so we get a high amount of nutrients without most of the fibre slowing down absorption. In this way, juicing may be supportive for people with digestive issues, or with particular health needs. A laboratory study found that the phytonutrient beta-carotene was higher in juice, than the whole food.
Smoothies contain the whole food blended up, including the fibre. Fibre helps you to feel full, can lower blood cholesterol, and, by slowing down the absorption of nutrients, helps to stabilise blood glucose levels for steady energy. You can also include additional protein, healthy fats, tasty and beneficial spices into your smoothie, such as nuts, seeds and protein powders, for a more nutrient dense and balanced meal.
Blending makes the foods easier to digest and absorb – although this may be in a different way to chewing, it can increase general fruit and vegetable intake and variety. A study comparing the phytochemical content of smoothies rather than juicing found that smoothies contained higher antioxidant capacities, but juicing contained significantly more vitamin C.
Which one is better?
As for health benefits, neither one can be a ‘winner’ – it depends on personal preference and needs.
For juices, vegetable juices are better than pure fruit juices – the latter will add an abnormally high amount of the main sugar in fruit, fructose, into the bloodstream for the liver to process immediately, affecting hunger signals and fat collection by the liver. There are some reported benefits to juicing using particular vegetables and fruit, with studies indicating cardiovascular benefits from kale juice supplementation, pomegranate juice intake and beetroot juice intake.
On a practical note, juicing creates a lot of waste from the vegetable pulp, which some people throw away, or it can be used to bulk out soups or to make crackers – but not everyone is willing or has time to do this! You will also get through a lot of fruit and vegetables, as 9 carrots produces just one cup of juice so that will increase your food bill.
For everyday use, smoothies are ideal and my personal preferred choice for minimal waste and retention of fibre. I recommend starting gently when increasing fibre. Remember, whichever you choose (or perhaps a combination) – we can’t live off liquid foods! Chewing is an important step in digestion. We still need to chew our smoothies as best as we can and complement with other meals which include a range of whole, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.
My favourite smoothie is in my FB Group Vibrant Health with Atiya – what’s your favourite smoothie?