The juicing craze has slowed down, but it looks like it will be around for a good while. Obviously, as a snack or meal replacement instead of fast food, juicing is a huge plus, but for meeting your daily nutritional requirements, it has some serious drawbacks. So, before you put all your eggs (or vitamins) in one blender, let’s look a bit deeper.
Those juice bars are tempting, but their fruit smoothies are too high in sugar to be a healthy option. Removing the pulp and fiber from fruits while keeping the juice creates concentrated calories that send blood sugar spiking, leaving you feeling drained a short time later and in need of another fix.
“Going Green” with vegetable juices is a better idea, but these are usually contain a fruit like apple, or beets or carrots for sweetness. These juices are also gigantic sugar sources. A cup of apple juice has 110 calories, 25 grams of sugar and only 1 gram of fiber. One whole medium-sized apple, on the other hand, has only 52 calories and 10.4 grams of sugar, with 2.4 grams of fiber - that's half the calories, half the sugar, and double the fiber!
What’s the Difference Between Juice and Smoothies?
To make fresh, homemade fruit or vegetable juice, you need a juice extractor, more commonly called a juicer. Using a juicer will help you extract the juice, which contains a fair amount of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. But unfortunately, it leaves behind equally valuable dietary fiber. And as no juicer is 100% efficient, you won't get the full amount of vitamins, minerals, or phytochemicals.
One of America’s greatest nutritional deficiencies is fiber. Most of us don’t eat enough whole fruits and vegetables to get even half of the 25 to 38 grams we need. That fiber is essential for systemic balance and digestive health and helps keep sugar from absorbing too quickly, so throwing it away is something less than brilliant. You may or may not actually feel your sugar levels spiking and crashing from juicing instead of eating whole fruits and veggies, but that doesn’t spare your pancreas.
Juicing can also speed up some things you may not want speeded up (let’s just say elimination)! Some call it flushing the system, but the detoxification that some claim from juicing is largely unproven. In reality, it’s just a quick trip through your personal plumbing. Suffice to say that if you sometimes rush to the bathroom now, you’ll want to make sure one is handy.
Smoothies are made in blenders instead of extractors. Instead of throwing away most of what goes in, you eat it all. In other words, you get all the vitamins, all the minerals, all the phytochemicals, all the fiber and everything else the whole foods contain. Getting all that raw fiber is one of the easiest ways to control hunger and food cravings, promoting healthy blood sugar levels and keeping elimination smooth and regular.
Prep and Cleaning Time
The prep time for smoothies is sometimes longer than for juicing. Also, if you’ve ever cleaned a good juicer, you’ll know that’s a much longer process than washing your blender after making a smoothie. All in all, for prep and cleaning, neither has a significant edge over the other.
The Trap of Repetition
One of the drawbacks of our “usual” diet is a lack of variety. Many of us eat the same things with alarming frequency. This might be enjoyable, but means that we might miss not get various micronutrients.
Unfortunately, we fall into the same trap when juicing or making smoothies. We start out with everything but the kitchen sink, but soon slip into the habit of the combinations we find most pleasant.
It’s important to remember that some nutrients (like Vitamin A, E, D and K) are better absorbed when consumed in the presence of fat. That makes it a good idea to add a little flaxseed oil, borage oil or some other healthy fat to your juice or smoothie.
The Bottom Line - Juices or Smoothies
Juices and smoothies are both great substitutes for low-nutrition drinks or snacks. For those on the go, they can even serve as a meal replacement. However, they won’t supply much protein, so if that’s how you use them, you might want to add a good protein powder.
You may also consider adding a good green food powder, which can provide ingredients like wheat or barley grass, spirulina or chlorella, moringa leaf, maca, matcha, water lentils, and so on.
While vitamins and minerals are part of every food, phytochemicals exist only in plants, and many of the most healthful phytochemicals are found only in certain herbs. Adding Superior Herbs and Adaptogens to your regimen can make a huge difference in how you cope with stress, the energy levels you feel, and can help support nearly everything your body needs to do.
In our opinion, smoothies are always superior to juices because the fiber you get with the whole foods is a game changer, and of course the fiber isn’t just fiber, locked within it are more vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that the juicer would leave behind. They can be the difference in getting some key nutrients and getting enough.
We would also caution that variety is always the ideal, so unless you can commit to changing up ingredients multiple times per week (most nutrients aren’t stored in the body) you could be short-changing your body – of course this applies to your diet too! It is always a good idea to add in a multivitamin as an insurance policy better to have too many nutrients than too few.