Juicing v. Smoothies – The Age Old Debate

SmoothieAs a wellness activist, I’m usually talking to people about food and eating healthier.  I’ve found that many people do not know the difference between juicing and making smoothies.  In this post, I’m going to explain the difference, the benefits of each and why you should incorporate both into your weekly meal plan.


How They’re Made:  Smoothies are made in a blender.  You can use a traditional blender, a high tech blender, like a Vitamix or Blendtec, or a Nutribullet to make them. The blender you use will determine the consistency of the smoothie.  Smoothies also use the entire fruit or vegetable (minus the skin which you would not normally eat).  You have to add liquid to smoothies for the vegetables and fruits to blend.  I normally use water, but sometimes use coconut water or almond milk.  Yogurt can also be used in smoothies for this purpose.

Benefits:  Smoothies are great because they’re filling and you can easily add protein to them, such as a good quality protein powder, nuts & seeds or nut butters.  They’re full of fiber because they’re using the whole fruit or vegetable.  Fiber is beneficial because it helps to form your stool, bind to toxins in your intestinal tract and also helps to reduce the risk of many cancers, especially colon cancer.


How They’re Made:  Juicers extract the “juice” from the rest of the fruit or vegetable aka the fiber or pulp so that you’re left with a liquid or juice.  There are several types of juicers, but I’ll just touch on two.  A centrifugal juicer has a motor in the middle of the juicer and the blade is directly on top of the motor.  The vegetables and fruits are torn apart as they hit the blade and the pulp collects in the sides of the juicer.  The other type of juicer that I’ll mention is a slow or masticating juicer.  Masticating juicers have the motor at the back and squeeze and tear the vegetables and fruits apart leaving only the liquid.  The pulp from masticating juicers is generally drier than the pulp from centrifugal juicers.  Most of the popular juicers, such as the ones made by Breville and Jack La Lane, are centrifugal juicers.

Benefits:  Juice is beneficial because it goes directly into your bloodstream.  Because it’s all liquid, there is nothing for your body to digest.  I like to think of it as an IV of nutrients that goes directly into your system.  As I mentioned, you don’t have to digest juice, so it is perfect for people with compromised digestive systems.  It is also great for people with compromised immune systems because it contains a large amount of antioxidants, vitamins and phytonutrients, which are compounds that protect plants and also protect us.  When I was recovering from myasthenia gravis ten years ago, I bought a juicer and juiced several times a week to increase the number of vegetables and fruits I was eating.

Differences & Why You Need Both:

  1. You get more nutrients from juice than from smoothies.  Before you jump all over me, please finish reading this point.  Sixteen ounces of juice contains many more nutrients than 16 ounces of smoothie because of the difference in how they’re made.  It takes many more vegetables and fruits to make the same amount of juice as it does when you’re making a smoothie.
  2. You absorb almost 100% of the nutrients in juice versus about half of the nutrients in a smoothie.  This is because smoothies contain fiber and most of that fiber is used to form your stool so it goes to waste, whereas none of the nutrients in the juice are used to form your stool, they just go directly into your bloodstream.
  3. You can substitute a smoothie for a meal, but can’t do so with juice.  Juice is juice, so it goes into your system quickly and does not contain any fiber.  In addition to helping to form your stool, eliminate toxins from your system and reducing your risk of colon cancer, the other benefit of fiber in a smoothie is that it helps to fill you up.  This is especially true of smoothies if you add protein to them.  This doesn’t work well with juice.  I’ve often had a smoothie for breakfast and felt full for hours.  Juice is great to kick start your system in the morning, however, it will not fill you up.
  4. Juice may have more sugar than smoothies.  If you use the same amount of vegetables and fruits to make a glass of juice and a smoothie, the juice will have a higher glycemic index because there is no fiber.  The fiber from fruits and vegetables helps to slow the rise of your blood sugar.  You might have heard nutritionists say “eat the orange rather than have orange juice.”  That is why.  I don’t suggest that people make fruit juice anyway.  I strongly recommend that you make green juice or mostly lower glycemic vegetable juice so that you don’t have to worry about the sugar problem.  Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, etc.) contain strong anti-cancer compounds and I recommend that people eat them every day.  Juice and smoothies are one way to get them in.  Check out this post about how to make one of my favorite green juices here.

As you can see there are many benefits to making juice and smoothies.  You do need fiber (my case for smoothies), but you also want to get as many antioxidants and phytonutrients in your blood stream as possible (my case for juicing).  Bottom line is:  you need more vegetables and fruits!  If you’re just starting out, congratulations!  Stick with the one that you’re doing now for a while until it becomes a regular part of your routine and then you might want to add the other one.  If you have been making juice or smoothies for a while already, I urge you to try incorporating the other one into your diet now.

I just shared four differences between juicing and making smoothies.  Now it’s your turn to speak!  Were any of them a surprise to you?  Do you generally make smoothies or juice?  If so, what’s your favorite recipe?

– AmiCietta

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