To Juice or to Blend?

Years ago we juiced a lot. We still own a juicer (it sleeps in the kitchen cabinet, like most of them), but now we blend every day, sometimes more than once.

So this Fooducate article caught my attention and was worth sharing.

juice or blend

Fresh liquid nutrition is really big these days. Cold pressed juice stands are popping up all over metro areas. Jamba Juice and competitors have hundreds of branches nationwide, and companies like Vitamix and Blendtec are selling $500 machines like hot cakes.

The allure of juices and smoothies is easy to understand. First and foremost – they are tasty (for the most part). They are also very easy to consume – no chewing required, just gulp and go. Or go and gulp, which works for many rushed Americans on their way to work.

Lastly, if the ingredients are healthy – fruits and vegetables for the most part – the liquid version must be healthy as well, right? We’ll get to that in a bit.

What you need to know:

Juicing and blending make it easier and faster to add more and varied produce into your diet. But there is a difference between the two methods.

Most people are familiar with the standard multi-speed blender used at home to create smoothies. Blenders are effective at chopping virtually anything into smaller and smaller pieces resulting in a smooth liquid. All of the original content of the fruit or vegetable is maintained in the liquid – including the healthy, fibrous pulp.

Juicers, on the other hand, separate the juice from the pulp, seeds, skin, and anything not liquid in the original fruit. The juice is much smoother, easier to drink, and contains no bitter fragments such as seeds. Juicer nutritionists will extoll the resulting elixir as a the ultimate concoction of nutrients available for immediate digestion and use by the body.

However,  the high amount of sugar from the fruits will also be absorbed very rapidly, spiking blood glucose. Another problem is the loss of all the beneficial fiber from the fruits and vegetables. One of the most important reasons for eating fruits and vegetables is their fiber. This is lost when juicing.

Both blenders and juicers change the original form of foods, and as a result you may be “unlocking” more nutrients, according to the brochures and salespeople. However, some of the nutrients are instantly lost when liquifying – contact with oxygen (air) instantly “evaporates” the likes of vitamin C and some antioxidants.

Before rushing off to make your morning shake, keep in mind that there’s a benefit to actually chewing your food. It sends signals to your digestive system that food is about to enter. Various enzymes and acids that improve digestion are activated as a result. You don’t get the same effect when drinking your food. Properly chewing your food will also limit your portion intake, something that is hard to do with liquid calories.

That’s why, if you can find the time and pleasure, your best nutritional bet is to eat your vegetables and fruits, not drink them. Think salad, not juice. That’s not to say a smoothie loaded with veggies is bad for you, but it should not be the only way healthy fruits and vegetables enter your body.

When it comes to money, owning a quality juicer or blender is not cheap. Beyond the initial investment in a machine, you need to buy a ton of vegetables and fruits just to make a single cup of juice. It’s also a pain to clean up the contraptions, juicers even more so than blenders. In various hygiene surveys, blenders and juicers were the most contaminated areas of American kitchens, with high levels of mold, salmonella and e. coli found on the rubber seals.

Our daily shake/smoothie, made in a Vitamix, always includes our Juice Plus+ Complete drink mix – it’s foundational.