I’m a huge protein shake and smoothie junkie. Recently, however, there has been major movement towards “juicing.” A lot of raw foodies and vegans love it and have been sharing their juicing ideals, claiming it provides for optimal health. Personally, I prefer shakes and smoothies, but I think there is merit to both. In order to understand what is best for you, I’ve discussed the benefits of each.
Juicing versus Smoothie Preparation
First, let’s discuss how juicing differs from preparing smoothies. Juicing involves taking vegetables and fruit and using a special juice extractor or citrus press to extract ONLY the juice of these foods, while a smoothie or “shake” is made in a blender (I personally love my “Magic Bullet“) and comprises all parts of the food, including the fiber and pulp. Now, all of what we discuss here is for homemade smoothies, shakes and juices.
Benefits of Juicing
Proponents of juicing claim the following benefits:
- Juice Allows for Faster Absorption of Nutrients: Because there is no fiber, they claim that juicing fruit and vegetables provides the most concentrated and readily absorbed source of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Removing fiber from the food means that there is hardly any digestive work needed to process the food. Proponents also claim that most of us have impaired digestion and that are 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 will receive increased nutrition.
- Juice Provides More Fruit and Veggies, More Easily. Because it takes A LOT of veggies or fruit to make an ounce of juice, you supposedly get a lot more fruit and vegetables into your diet. Further, because some people find eating fruit and vegetables difficult, it supposedly is more easy to consume them through juice.
- Juice Promotes More Varied Intake of Fruit and Vegetables. Because many people tend to eat the same fruit or veggies a day, juicing supposedly 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.
- Juice is 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 and 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.
- Juice Cleans Your Liver. Proponents of juicing claim that juice helps to detoxify and de-sludge our liver.
- Juice Helps with Anti-Depression. As a result of the high concentration of minerals contained in juice, such as magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and folic acid, there is reason to believe that juicing can help fight symptoms of depression.
- Juice Helps with Anti-Aging. As a result of the high concentration of antioxidants in juice, they 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.
Benefits of Smoothies and Shakes
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a bigger fan of smoothies. Here is why:
- 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.
- Smoothies 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.
- Smoothies Fill You Up. Since smoothies contain fiber, you will feel full longer. High fiber content means longer time to digest, meaning you won’t become hungry very quickly.
- Smoothies Promote Regularity. Because of the fiber, smoothies help keep your digestive tract moving and provide “good” bacteria needed for good digestion.
- Smoothies Promote Weight Loss. Juice goes down quickly, is digested quickly and is absorbed into the blood stream quickly. What does that mean? You become hungry and need more food quickly. Smoothies, however, because of all of the things mentioned above, keep you feeling full and less hungry, helping you to stave off cravings and hunger pains. Further, since juicing requires many fruit and vegetables, the juice – ounce for ounce – is higher in calories and sugar than a smoothie.
- Smoothies Are 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. So, although they may not give you such a high potency as juice, smoothies provide benefits of both #6 and #7 under Juicing.
- Smoothies Cost Less. It takes less fruit and vegetables to make a smoothie than it does to make a juice. Further, juicing requires more expensive, more messy equipment than preparing smoothies.
In short, if you are 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 (25 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.
Do you juice? Do you have smoothies? Which do you like better?