There’s nothing quite like sipping on a cold glass of freshly squeezed juice in the summer. But should we be drinking smoothies instead of juices? Is one healthier than the other? Here is the lowdown on the ongoing debate.
Both smoothies and juices contain lots of nutrients from fresh fruit and veggies, assuming that when we talk about juices and smoothies, we’re talking about ones derived from fresh and real ingredients. When that’s the case, we can benefit from all that goodness from whole and natural foods. For the sake of this discussion, we’re ignoring options that use purees, syrups, or powders, as these can add extra sugar without any added health benefits.
The main difference between juicing and smoothies is the production. To make a smoothie, you blend all the whole ingredients together. The flavor possibilities are limitless. You can combine vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. And most notably, using this method, you keep all the fiber because you’re using the whole fruit and vegetable.
Juicing is a little different. When you press juice, it removes the fibrous material so that only a liquid is left. Juicing extracts the juice from the fruit and vegetables, separating the pulp. Because of the way you produce juices, it usually means there’s little to no fiber. So the primary difference between smoothies and juices is their fiber content.
Before we delve into the juice or smoothie argument, we need to talk about fiber.
Fiber is a major player in digestive health and leaves us feeling fuller for longer. Dietary fiber contains unique components crucial for supporting digestion. It keeps our digestive systems ticking along.
Constipation is the number one gastrointestinal complaint in the US. A high-fiber diet encourages soft, regular bowel movements and reduces constipation. Because fiber makes stools bulkier and softer, it increases the speed at which it leaves the body. Snicker all you like; it’s no fun feeling backed up.
There are two types of fiber in fruits and vegetables: insoluble and soluble. Both are essential for health and good digestion.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a gel-like substance. The gel helps to slow down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. It can also help to control cholesterol and blood sugar.
Plus, soluble fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut and helps it thrive. Our guts contain trillions of microorganisms – some good and some not so good. Healthy bacteria love to feed on fiber. So, the more fiber in your diet, the more the good bacteria in your gut can grow.
You can find soluble fiber in the following:
The other type of fiber is insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water or any gastrointestinal fluids. So, it mostly remains the same as it moves through the digestive tract.
Because insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, it absorbs and sticks to materials to produce stool. The water in the stool makes it softer and much easier to pass, putting less strain on the bowel. Attracting water to the intestines is crucial for ensuring everything moves along as it should.
You can find insoluble fiber in foods like:
When it comes to fiber, ideally, we want to eat sources of both insoluble and soluble fiber. There are benefits to each type of fiber. Find out how to up your fiber intake in our guide on how to eat more fiber.
One benefit of blending fruit is that it contains more antioxidants than if you juice it. Studies show that there are more antioxidants in blended fruit than if you were to juice those same ingredients. Because you mainly find antioxidants in the fibrous parts of fruit, blended fruit leaves more antioxidants.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring molecules you mainly find in plant foods. They work to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage your cells and encourage premature aging. Your body reacts to things like smoking, air pollution exposure, or UV rays by producing free radicals. It’s not just the environment that increases free radicals, but it can happen with refined and ultra-processed foods. Trans fats, deli meats, and high-sugar foods can also have a similar effect.
As we get older, our bodies start to lose the ability to fight free radicals. This means more oxidative stress and damage to cells.
That’s where antioxidants come in. They can help prevent or slow down the damage caused by those pesky free radicals. Antioxidants may even reduce the risk of developing cancer.
An antioxidant-rich diet can only be a good thing. You may be familiar with vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. These are all great antioxidants to add to your diet to combat the effects of free radicals.
Smoothies make it easy to sneak in a higher level of antioxidants without giving it much thought. Blending instead of juicing will increase your antioxidant intake because smoothies contain fibrous material. Not to mention, they will leave you feeling fuller much sooner than juices.
The fiber, skin, and pulp in fresh and natural smoothies will fill you up quickly. Because juices don’t contain the same pulp and fiber content, it’s easy to overdo it with a juice vs smoothie. When you don’t feel particularly full, you can end up drinking more than you need.
Remember that commercial smoothies and juices can sometimes contain more sugar than soda. Stick to using whole, natural fruits in your drinks to get the most out of them.
We hate to admit it, but not everyone loves veggies. We know, shocking, right?
Adding greens to a meal is not a problem for some people. But others struggle to fit vegetables into their meals, whether they don’t have the time to cook or just can’t stand the taste.
Juicing is a good way to fill a nutrition gap and pack lots of veggies into one sitting. As juices are super concentrated, you can have a large serving of vegetables in a small portion. Instead of eating several portions of fruits and vegetables, you can have a juice. It can make it much easier to get some of those key nutrients and minerals your body loves.
The main downside of juicing is that you miss out on those extra benefits you can get in smoothies. Juices don’t have the same fiber content, which is crucial for your gut and digestive health.
So, if you’re on the fence between a smoothie or juice and looking for a fiber boost, then smoothies are your friend.
The time has come to answer the big question: are smoothies better than juicing?
Smoothies have a higher content of fiber and antioxidants than juices. So, the answer is yes; smoothies do have more advantages.
While both beverages contain sugar – and can raise your blood sugar – the effects are a little more chaotic with juices. Because there’s little to no fiber in juices, the sugar absorbs more quickly into the bloodstream, spiking blood sugar levels.
Although we’re team smoothies, it’s still important to eat whole fruits and veggies. Eating fresh and real foods in their most natural form gives your body plenty of great nutrients.
But we know that life gets in the way, and you don’t always have time to make a meal from scratch. That’s why we have created a range of convenient, quick, and healthy smoothies so that you can get your daily fix of nutrients without the hassle.
Sometimes, juicing advocates claim drinking juice is better than eating whole foods. By removing the fiber, it’s easier for your body to absorb nutrients. In reality, the science doesn’t support this claim.
The fiber content in fruits and vegetables may even help us get the full health benefits from whole foods. For instance, the antioxidants naturally found in fruit fibers are removed during juicing. Antioxidants may play an even bigger role than we know in the health benefits of natural and whole fruits and veggies.
In the juicing process, you can lose up to 90% of fiber. While there’s still some soluble fiber, there’s barely any insoluble fiber left. Our bodies need both types of fiber to function and support a healthy digestive system.
The fiber, antioxidants, and nutrient content in smoothies are what makes them such a success in a healthy and balanced diet. While we always advocate for eating whole fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Smoothies are a quick and easy way to keep hitting your vitamin and mineral intake when you’re short on time.