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Juices vs. Smoothies

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Which is better, juicing or blending? With the popularity of green beverages, it’s a question I’m asked all the time. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple. Both juices and smoothies can be a healthy addition to your diet, or a sugary dessert masquerading as health food.

Here is a brief comparison of the two and tips for making a delicious and nutritious beverage:

Juices:

Pros

  • Juice is made by extracting liquid and nutrients from the solid, or fiber, portion of fruits and vegetables. Without the solids, you can squeeze a large quantity of produce into one glass, much more than you could drink in smoothie form. This makes juice more concentrated in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals than smoothies.
  • Because juice lacks fiber, it is easier to digest. I often recommend green juices for my clients with certain digestive disorders that can make other nutrient-dense foods hard on their system.
  • Some juices may have a therapeutic effect. For example, beet juice has been shown to help lower blood pressure.

Cons

  • Lacking fiber, juice can spike blood sugar levels, especially if you use a large amount of fruit.

    Green Juice

    Stripped Green Juice
    recipe from nutritionstripped.com

  • Juice is much less filling. If you’ve ever tried a juice detox, you probably felt somewhat homicidal. No, you’re just hungry!
  • Juice does not contain fat or protein, so it is not a substitute for a balanced meal.
  • Even if you have an expensive, high quality juicer, you’re still going to loose some of the nutrients along with the solids.

Juicing Tips:

  • To keep your juice from being too sugary, limit it to one piece/cup of fruit for every 3 pieces/cups of vegetable.
  • Does it drive you nuts to use a pound of produce for a measly cup of juice? Me too! I add plain coconut water to my juice for more volume.
  • Don’t throw away the pulp! Add it to smoothies for more fiber, use it to make vegetable broth…you can even make a DIY skincare product!
  • Use watery romaine lettuce, cucumbers or celery to create volume and cut the bitter flavor of strong greens.
  • A little lemon goes a long way in an all-vegetable juice.

A few of my favorite juice recipes:

Smoothies:

Pros

  • Smoothies contain fiber, fat and protein, so they are generally much better for your blood sugar.
  • Smoothies are filling and can be used for a healthy meal or snack.
  • For those who are looking to boost their fiber intake, smoothies are an excellent choice. Add oats, chia or flax seeds as a natural fiber supplement.
  • Nutrient rich additions like spirulina, raw cacao powder, and anti-inflammatory turmeric are easy to hide in smoothies.
Blueberry Smoothie

Blueberry, Coconut & Ginger Smoothie
recipe from anavocadoaday.blogpost.com

Con

  • While fruit and certain dairy alternatives are perfectly healthy, vegetables give you the most nutritional bang for your buck, and it’s hard to sneak more than a couple handfuls of greens into a smoothie and keep it palatable.
  • Watch out for premade smoothies, which are generally huge sugar bombs! Many brands are heavily sweetened, with some containing as much as 60 grams of sugar in half a bottle!

Smoothie Tips:

  • I find 1 cup frozen fruit to 1 cup dairy or dairy alternative is the perfect smoothie ratio. For dairy, I recommend unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened coconut milk, or organic whole dairy, like milk, yogurt or kefir.
  • If you prefer your smoothie a bit sweeter, use a couple drops of pure stevia extract, a teaspoon of honey or a couple dates.
  • For a smoothie that satisfies until lunch (or morning snack time!), add a little fat. My favorites are a scoop of nut butter, coconut oil, full fat organic dairy or a quarter of an avocado. You can even sneak in a couple teaspoons of a quality extra-virgin olive oil, which adds a little fruity flavor!
  • A scoop of cocoa powder turns your smoothie into a healthy treat, and packs a punch of heart healthy flavanols.
  • Look beyond spinach and kale! You can include all sorts of vegetables in your smoothie – beets, carrots, cucumber, zucchini and lettuce all work well.

A few of my favorite smoothie recipes:

Personally, being one who is particularly susceptible to hanger (hungry-anger), I prefer the more substantial smoothie. But on days I need a quick energy boost, I love to blend up a juice with whatever fruits and leftover vegetables I have on hand.

Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE is a private practice dietitian and food blogger at www.anavocadoaday.blogspot.com. She offers nutrition coaching nationwide via telephone and Skype.

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