Is one better than the other? I’ve been listening to the pros and cons for so long now and there are so many myths and misunderstandings, so let’s settle this once and for all! Here’s a brief but thorough look at both sides of the juicing vs smoothies debate.
Just in case you’re new to juicing and smoothies, juicing is accomplished with a machine that separates the juice from the pulp though some pulp remains in the finished product. The result is an extremely nutrient dense drink. On the other hand, smoothies are made using a blender and all the pulp remains. Thus a smoothie is more like a meal and less like a drink.
Which one is better depends upon who you ask, what you use it for, what your budget is and your taste preferences.
Let’s lay it all out so you can make up your own mind.
Many contend that smoothies are a much better choice for those who want more fiber in their diet. Smoothies definitely have more fiber since juices discard most of the pulp which is primarily fiber. Not so fast, say juice enthusiasts! The biggest misconception is that juice has no fiber. The truth is that juice has plenty of fiber.
This debate is better understood by taking a closer look at fiber. It comes in 2 forms – soluble and insoluble. Both are vital to a healthy diet. Smoothies have soluble and insoluble fiber. Juices have mostly soluble fiber. If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, soluble fiber is best. If you’re dealing with digestive problems such as constipation you want more insoluble fiber. All in all, it’s estimated that we eat only ½ the amount of the fiber we need.
Juicing proponents point out that you can add pulp back into your juice for as much insoluble fiber as you want, but unless you put it all back, smoothies deliver more fiber.
One interesting fact about fiber is that it regulates blood sugar levels so smoothies may be a better choice for diabetics, but of course check with your doctor about this.
Weight Loss Debate
Pulp is added calories thus many consider juices more helpful for weight loss. Not so fast say smoothie folks! The added fiber in a smoothie creates a slower rate of absorption and thus you feel fuller longer. Smoothies help dieters feel fuller for longer. In other words, both smoothies and juices are very effective for weight loss.
Energy Drink Debate
The less pulp in juice makes it digest faster and thus more nutrients are absorbed more quickly. Thus juices are more effective energy boosting and workout recovery drinks.
Some nutritionists contend that smoothies are not as well digested as juices. Here’s the argument. Different enzymes and other digestive compounds are triggered when food and drink enters your mouth. When you drink a smoothie, your digestion releases enzymes as if it were a liquid, but the content, particularly the fiber, is like solid food. Thus the digestion of a smoothie is, according to some, a more complicated process resulting for some in gas and bloating. I must add that I’ve not experienced any digestive issues with smoothies or juices.
Smoothies do seem to have an edge when it comes to prep and cleanup. After all you’re eating the whole food rather than discarding something.
Nutritional differences between juice and smoothies are, in my humble opinion, hard to pin down. I’ve concluded that it’s no big deal, but here are the facts so you can decide. The blending machines that make smoothies are high powered in order to liquefy fruit and vegetable skins, seeds and leafy greens. The powerful spinning action – 10,000 rpm’s and higher – adds oxygen which destroys some nutrients – some say as much as 100% of enzymes and 50% of phytonutrients. Centrifugal juice machines produce nearly the same nutrient loss. Not so with ‘slow’ juice machines with as little as 45 rpm’s, and press juicers that have no rpm’s. But it’s important to keep a perspective. Any fresh smoothie or juice has more nutrients – so much more! – than anything sold in a bottle, can, pill, carton or powder – even the best organic brands.
Here’s another interesting fact to consider which I just recently read from a reputable source. “[Some nutrients] may not be accessible for our absorption by chewing alone. [Juices and smoothies] increase our likelihood of absorbing these nutrients.” This doctor also points out that certain nutrients are bound to fiber, thus if you have more fiber in a smoothie, you may be getting more nutrients in this regard.1
It’s important to keep in mind that many nutrients quickly break down, so it’s best to consume your smoothie or juice as quickly as possible. But the smoothie has a tradition of being frozen for later. Freezing also destroys some nutrients.
Those who prefer smoothies over juices point to the lower cost involved, because more produce is needed to create the same volume of juice. However, because smoothies are the entire fruit or veggie, you must use more organic produce if you want to avoid pesticides.
Added Ingredients Issue
Because the smoothie is the whole food, it tends to be thicker than a juice and often needs added liquid. And because it includes bitter skins and rinds, smoothies often taste better with some kind of added sweetener such as coconut sugar or honey. Thus smoothies often have added ingredients and juices do not.
So you decide! They’re both great for you and one of the best ways to improve your health. What do I think? Some days I make a smoothie. Some days a juice.