Recipes for green juices and smoothies are everywhere these days and are slowly becoming a more mainstream approach to healthy eating and detoxing. Sipping on these flavorful antioxidant-filled concoctions throughout the day is a great way to increase fruit and veggie intake. (Side effects include boundless amounts of energy, glowing skin and a stronger immune system.) But as more people are experimenting and making their own juices and smoothies, it brings up the question, “Which is better? Juicing-vs-Blending?” Is one better than the other?
Advantages: When we juice our veggies, we are removing the indigestible fiber and making the nutrients more readily available to the body in much larger quantities than if we were to eat the fruits and vegetables whole. It’s like injecting nutrients straight into your blood stream. This means your body is better able to absorb the nutrients without having to digest the dense bulk of the plant. Plus, you can fit an incredible quantity of vegetables into a single glass of green juice, leaving you with simple, smooth and delicious drink that packs an incredible nutritional punch!
Disadvantages: Juicers can be very expensive and hard to take care of. They need to be thoroughly cleaned after every use. Stocking enough fresh, organic vegetables to make daily juices can also be expensive. Although they are very high in nutrients and vitamins, juices can’t keep you full for long because your body processes the liquid so quickly. As for the blood sugar spike, that’s a reasonable concern. It’s worth noting that though green juices typically are usually low in sugar, several store bought juices can have a very high glycemic load and may cause blood sugar imbalances. Juice that’s all apple, for example, will give you a sugar rush or make you lightheaded. But properly made, juice should be high enough in celery, cucumber, greens, lemon, and other veggies to outweigh the sugar in apples (sugars that are, by the way, are perfectly suitable in reasonable amounts). And of course, I do not recommend juicing as meal replacement, which is where the real danger of blood sugar elevation lies. If you have diabetes or a blood sugar imbalance you’ll want to speak with your doctor before you begin juicing frequently.
1 handful parsley
1 handful spinach
1-inch piece ginger
In a fruit and vegetable juicer, juice all ingredients. Discard solids. Pour juice into glass and add a few ice cubes if you prefer a colder beverage.
Advantages: The biggest advantage to making smoothies is that the only equipment you need is relatively inexpensive – a blender. Smoothies tend to be a little bit more filling since the plant fibers are present (but still easy to digest, compared to raw whole vegetables.) Unlike juices, smoothies still contain all of the fiber from the vegetables – however, the blending process breaks the fiber apart and makes it easier to digest. They are more filling and generally faster to make than juice, so they can be great to drink first thing in the morning as your breakfast, or for snacks throughout the day.
Disadvantages: Compared to digesting juice, your body will have to work a bit harder to digest a smoothie and absorb the nutrients. Also, because it’s difficult to pack in the same volume of vegetables into a blender, your smoothie won’t be as nutrient-dense as your green juice. Using a high quality blender, such as a Vitamix, will lead to smoother, more enjoyable smoothies, but the price is comparable to a juicer.
1 bunch of kale, finely chopped
1-2 grated carrots
3 cups of boiled water
1 cup coconut milk
Add kale, carrot and water to a blender and puree well for 2 minutes. Add coconut milk and blend for 15 seconds more. Serve warm or place in fridge for a few moments and serve chilled.
For a little bit of extra spice, add a slice of ginger or a dash of cayenne pepper. Not only will these add a little zing to your smoothie, but the spices may also fend off any illnesses that you feel coming on!
What type of equipment do I need?
To get the most benefit out of your juices and smoothies, it’s important to use the right equipment.
Invest in a good-quality juicer. Cheap juicers introduce heat and oxygen and destroy the much-needed nutrients in your fruits and vegetables. They are also generally bad at juicing greens. Most will only last a few months before starting to smoke or leak juice all over the counter. While it may cost you a bit more initially, a premium juicer will produce good-quality juice and allow you to extract more from your fruit and vegetables, saving expense in the long-term.
The same goes for a blender. You want a blender that is gentle on your produce and doesn’t heat up the enzymes as it’s pulling apart the fibers.
My current favorite is actually a combination between a juicer and a blender – the NutriBullet. No, this is not an infomercial nor am I getting any kick-back for mentioning it, but it’s the brother of the famous Magic Bullet. The NutriBullet completely breaks down ingredients, leaving in the fiber that a juicer removes and blending the chunks that the blender leaves behind. You’re left with a tasty and delicious drink that’s ready to nourish your body. I’m hooked.
Are store bought juices just as healthy as fresh squeezed?
When fresh fruit is juiced, there are enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that are abundant and ready to absorb fast. If you don't drink the juice within a few hours, all of these enzymes die off and the benefits are diminished.
So, what does that say about the juices in the store, even those "healthy" kinds found in the refrigerator section? Although these organic juices are healthier than the juice on the shelves, because there is less processing or additives, the actual nutrients and enzymes available in both is very little.
You'll get the most benefit from healthy juices if you drink them immediately after juicing or blending. Fresh and store bought juices all have calories so be sure to count them if you are on a weight-loss diet.
To compare blending and juicing is a bit like trying to evaluate the merits of pilates and running a marathon. They’re comparable in that they’re both a form of exercise, but that’s where the comparison ends; juicing and blending are both a form of nutritional intake, but they’re as different as can be. Whether you choose to blend or juice your vegetables, you are nourishing your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that have both short term and long term health benefits.