If you want to eat more fruits and veggies, the solution may be to stop eating them and start drinking them.
But where do you go from there? You’ll likely immediately run into the question of whether juicing or blending is the best way to go, and there are countless opinions out there.
While there’s a huge juicing industry and many individuals who swear by their juicers, others stick to the line that blending is best. Let’s take a look at a few areas where the two methods differ.
Pulp, Fiber, and Amount of Fruit Needed
The first thing you’ll notice about juicing is that you need to put in a lot of plant matter to get a relatively small amount of juice. Why? Because juicers extract the pulp from the fruit or veggies, leaving you with a smooth glass of liquid. This has a few effects.
First, simply, juicing is tougher on your wallet because you need to buy way more produce, and much of it ends up being discarded. Second, all of that pulp is fiber: fiber that helps you feel full, keeps your digestive system in check, and helps prevent heart disease.
Blending, on the other hand, ensures that you eat the whole fruit or veggie that you put in, requiring less grocery shopping and resulting in more fiber making its way into your body. However, for those of you who really want to reset their system, juicing will give your digestive system a bit of rest by removing the fiber.
While veggies are a safe bet in any juice or blended drink, fruits can quickly rocket up the calorie content. Jendy Newton, a dietician working out of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, notes that fruit-based juices can have the same sugar and caloric content as soda, ounce for ounce. Blended fruits certainly have the same issue, but because of the fiber content, you’re likely to fill up faster when there’s pulp involved, rather than chugging away on a super-sugary beverage.
It seems like you should wind up with the same amount of nutrients in your finished product whether you blend or juice, but blending actually preserves more nutrients than juicing. One study, for example, found that the phytonutrients (particularly flavonoids) in grapefruit were higher when the fruit was blended than when it was juiced (both with a machine and by hand).
Plus, blending can often include the skin in the finished product, which is often packed with tons of important nutrients. And while proponents of juicing posit that the body can absorb nutrients better without the presence of fiber, there’s simply no scientific evidence that supports this assertion.
So Which is Better for Me?
The answer: it depends.
If you suffer from a condition like colitis or Crohn’s disease, you may opt for juicing because the food is easier to digest. If, however, you have diabetes, you want to be able to regulate blood sugar and avoid spiking, so blending is better.
There are some things on which we can all agree, whether you choose to juice or blend:
1. Keep to vegetables with at most one fruit added. Fruit juice is high in sugar and you don’t need a lot of that at once, even if it’s from a whole food. Fruit sugar will also drive up the calorie content, if you care about such things.
2. Another reason to minimize the amount of fruit is that different enzymes are required for vegetables versus fruit. Root vegetables, corn, and pumpkin have a high starch content and if mixed with fruit can cause fermentation and gas.
3. Include at least one leafy green vegetable, such as: kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli. This type of vegetable is very nutrient-rich.
4. Include at least one root vegetable, like: carrot, beet, parsnip.
5. Don’t forget herbs like parsley and mint–they add flavor and nutrition.
6. Drink your smoothie or juice immediately after making it. Exposure to light and air will suck out some of the nutrients. If you can’t drink right away or can’t finish what you’ve made, store in the refrigerator in an opaque, airtight container.
7. Use good-quality equipment. Not only do you want the most nutrition from your food but you want the machine to last a while.
If you’re serious about juicing or blending, it’s going to require an investment. While a standard blender that you’d use for smoothies or frozen drinks can sometimes do the job, they’re just not tough enough to really break down hard veggies like carrots, which require the pulverizing touch of an industrial-strength blender. And of course, juicing requires a specialized juicer.
Do you prefer juicing or blending?
Whichever method you choose, you can be assured that you are getting healthful, nutritious, whole, raw food that your body will love you for.