Green smoothies have started showing up a lot in the past few years and is followed quickly by the green juice trend. A lot of health-conscious people have heard it and Instagram fitness influencers have been raving about their juice recipes. The juice and smoothie industry has taken the USA by storm, as juice and smoothie bars bring a total of $2 billion every year, according to market research. You probably have tried one of those too, but it’s important to understand the health benefits of what you’re drinking.
Both are juices and smoothies great things to consume when you’re on a raw food diet to increase your intake of vegetables and fruit. When you blend or juice, you’ve already started the digestive process because food is pulverized or squeezed, so your body doesn’t need to. This way, you also get to absorb more nutrients as compared to chowing it down yourself.
Aren’t those two the same thing? No, they are actually different. Let’s define them first.
A smoothie is a beverage made from the process of blending fruits, vegetables and liquid or ice (needed so they can blend properly) into a puree or shake. Often times, skin, cores and seeds are removed before blending, but all the edible parts of the produce are blended.
If you drink a smoothie, it’s like you’re drinking a salad. The food gets pulverized, but you still end up consuming the whole food. You get the same nutrients that you would get from eating whole fruits and vegetables, but a smoothie presents them in a more easily digestible form. They also contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, as well as all the nutrients and enzymes. In short, blending offers you more of a meal replacement than a beverage.
There are fruits that are difficult or impossible to juice, like banana, avocado and mango, but you can transform them into smoothies so easily.
A blender is used for making a smoothie. It has only one container, so what goes inside it stays in it – it just changes form.
A juice is the liquid extracted from fruits and vegetables. These contain all the nutrients, enzymes and soluble fiber, but not the insoluble or dietary fiber. When dietary fiber is consumed, it aids in digestion by passing through the body intact.
Ingredients with high soluble fiber are often used in juicing, such as kale, apple, spinach, carrot and cucumbers. Since the dietary fiber is removed, the body doesn’t have to work hard to extract the nutrients out of the foods you ingested. This way, the juice of the produce you drink allows its nutrients to enter the bloodstream fast while letting the body use the least amount of energy.
A juice is more concentrated when it comes to the amounts of vitamins and nutrients it contains. It is best made in a juicer, but you can still juice using a blender (though you will need a fine sieve). Unlike a blender, the juicer has multiple vessels which separates the fibrous “leftovers” from the concentrated juice.
Here are the ways juices and smoothies are different:
1. Fiber content
As mentioned earlier, the biggest difference between a juice and a smoothie will be their fiber content. A juice is smooth, while smoothies can be thicker and a bit chunkier because of the fiber content. Fiber is very important for proper digestion and gut health.
The soluble fibers present in both drinks have several health benefits, such as lowering blood cholesterol levels, slowing down absorption of carbohydrates and feeding beneficial bacteria to the gut. Meanwhile, the insoluble fiber helps keep your bowel movement regular, attracting water to the intestines and moving everything. They add more bulk to the stool and stimulates your intestines to action.
If you’re in need of dietary fibers, it’s better to opt for a smoothie instead of a juice.
2. Concentration of nutrients
The lack of fiber in juice somehow gives it one advantage over smoothies – it has more nutrients per serving. Normally, the body has to work hard to extract the nutrients out of plants, but with juicing, the liquid has been squeezed out of the fibrous plant cells. This allows the nutrients to enter the bloodstream in the fastest way possible. Juicing is also done most of the time to increase intake of vegetables of people who can’t eat a lot of them raw or cooked. Through juicing, you can take in all the vital nutrients in a quick sip without needing to stomach the taste of vegetables in a meal.
3. Ease of digestion
Without the fiber, juices can give your body a break from digestion, and it enhances nutrient absorption. Fibers are good for the gut, but it can reduce your absorption of nutrients. However, blending is advantageous in this area, too. The fiber remains from the finished product but the cell walls of the foods are broken down. This makes the food easier to digest. Blending can have a more noticeable effect to your digestion as well. But for some people with diseases that need low-fiber and low-residue diets, juicing would be more appropriate.
4. Concentration of antioxidants
While we’re still on the subject of fibers – some fruit and vegetable fibers contain phytochemicals, which are antioxidant compounds that help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. A study compared the presence of phytochemicals in blended grapefruit and grapefruit juice. The blended grapefruit had a higher concentration of phytochemicals because the compound is contained in the fibrous membranes of the fruit.
5. Sugar content
The sugar content is a downside to both juices and smoothies. Both can raise blood sugar as compared to eating foods whole, but the effects are more speedy and dramatic with juice.
This is the reason why advocates of juicing recommend you to juice more vegetables than fruits, and use fruits mainly to mask the strong flavor of leafy greens and veggies. If you juice fruits more often, the fructose from the fruits will go directly to your bloodstream, as compared to drinking fiber-containing smoothies.
Also, with blended fruits and veggies, you can drink and drink but along the way you will easily feel full because of the pulp, fiber and skin that increases the volume and thickness of the drink. This, in turn, can help limit your calorie consumption in your next meal. But if you juice, you can consume the same amount of veggies and fruits but your stomach will not feel satisfied.
Which one is better?
You may have checked this article out because you are looking for answers to what is better than the other – a smoothie or a juice. But both have a variety of benefits and downsides as well.
With juicing, you can get a greater concentration of nutrients, increased consumption of veggies and fruits and enhanced nutrient absorption. It’s great for people who have difficulty eating veggies, or even for people with diseases that cause them to have difficulty eating and digesting. A juice can help them regain their strength without forcing their digestive system to work.
But juicing means you’ll be missing out on important dietary fiber, as well as other compounds like antioxidants present in the pulp or membranes of produce.
Meanwhile, with blending, you can get everything your produce has to offer. It also won’t spike your blood sugar as quick as juice can. But the pulpy and rough texture of smoothies can be unappetizing for some people.
So the answer is: it really depends on what you need. You need a more regular bowel movement? Go for smoothies. Are you looking to increase your intake of veggies? Go for juices. It all boils down to needs and also preference.