Juice vs. smoothie: Which is better for your health?

Recently, there's been a major movement toward juicing. Raw foodies and vegans love it and have advocated for it, claiming that this is the answer to optimal health. Personally, I prefer smoothies, but I think there's merit to both. In order to understand which is best for you, I've discussed the benefits of each.

Juicing Versus Smoothie Preparation
First, let's look at how juicing differs from preparing smoothies. Juicing involves using a juice extractor or citrus press to extract only the juice of fruits and vegetables, while a smoothie or shake is made in a blender (I personally love my Magic Bullet) and includes the fiber and pulp. Now, all of what we discuss here is for homemade smoothies, shakes, and juices.

The Juice on Juicing
Proponents of juicing claim the following benefits:

  1. Faster absorption of nutrients. Because there's no fiber, pro-juicers claim that juicing fruit and vegetables provides the most concentrated and readily absorbed source of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Removing fiber from the liquid means that there's hardly any digestive work needed to process the food. Proponents also claim that most of us have impaired digestion and that our bodies are limited in absorbing all the nutrients from the fruit and vegetables. They believe that juicing helps to pre-digest them for you, so you'll receive increased nutrition.
  2. More fruit and veggies into your day. Because it takes a lot of veggies or fruit to make an ounce of juice, you get a lot more fruit and vegetables into your diet. Further, because some people find eating fruit and vegetables difficult, it's easier for some to consume them through juice.
  3. More varied intake of fruit and vegetables. Because many people tend to eat the same fruit or veggies each day, proponents believe that juicing helps you get in a wider variety that you might not normally consume. Your nutrient intake, as a result, is much better and more completely covered.
  4. Nutrient dense. A good amount of what you eat when you eat fruit and vegetables is water, vitamins and minerals, and fiber. However, when you remove the fiber, all you get is the water, vitamins, and minerals. This concentration is said to supercharge the system with phytonutrients, which are important in warding off disease, cancer, and other degenerative illnesses.
  5. Liver Cleansing. Juicing supporters claim that juice helps to detoxify and de-sludge our liver.
  6. Depression Defense. As a result of the high concentration of minerals contained in juice, such as magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and folic acid, there's reason to believe that juicing can help fight symptoms of depression.
  7. Anti-aging. Because of the high concentration of antioxidants in juice, proponents believe that consuming juice can combat the damaging effects that free radicals have on skin, muscle, and our internal organs. Antioxidants also help to ward off wrinkles and keep muscles toned.
The Skinny on Smoothies
As I mentioned earlier, I'm a bigger fan of smoothies. Here's why:
  1. Smoothies are a meal. You can easily add protein ingredients (yogurt, milk, whey, eggs) to the smoothie or shake, making it a more balanced, nutritious meal.
  2. Stabilize blood sugar and energy levels. Because smoothies contain fiber, the sugar and calories from smoothies are more slowly absorbed into the blood stream. As a result, your blood sugar levels remain stable and so does your energy. Juice, however, gives you a jolt of energy and vitality.
  3. They promote regularity. Because of the fiber, smoothies help keep your digestive tract moving and provide the good bacteria needed for good digestion.
  4. They promote weight loss. Juice goes down quickly, is digested quickly, and is absorbed into the blood stream quickly. As a result, you become hungrier more quickly. Since smoothies contain fiber, you will feel full longer. High-fiber content means it will take longer to digest, meaning you won't become hungry as quickly. Further, since juicing requires many fruits and vegetables, the juice-ounce for ounce-is higher in calories and sugar than a smoothie.
  5. They're nutritious. The fruit and vegetables you use for a smoothie all contain the same vitamins and minerals you get when you juice them. You still get all of the antioxidants and age-fighting benefits. Although they may not give you the same high potency as juice, smoothies provide benefits of both number six and number seven under the juicing pros.
  6. They cost less. It takes fewer fruits and vegetables to make a smoothie than it does to make juice. Further, juicing requires more expensive, more messy equipment than preparing smoothies.
In short, if you're looking for a jolt of energy, vitamins, and minerals, and don't care about tons of calories, juicing might be the answer. Just be sure to get enough fiber in your diet (twenty-five grams minimum) through other sources. If you want a more balanced food source or meal, are watching your weight, and are interested in staying regular through the foods you eat, smoothies are a better option.

Originally posted on sheerbalance.com - Copyright 2010

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