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The time it takes to wash, chop, prepare, cook, and eat the recommended quantity of fruits and vegetables is time a lot of folks simply don't have. For many people, turning fruits and vegetables into fast and convenient drinks is more efficient than making and eating all those salads.
The US government recommends that adults who exercise less than a half-hour a day, eat at least 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruits and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables. However, according to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, in 2015, only 12.2% of Americans met fruit intake recommendations and 9.3% met vegetable intake standards.
This means folks are missing the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber in fruits and vegetables, putting them at increased risk for chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes.
But what are the real differences between juicing and blending, and which is more nutritious? Let's find out.
What is Blending?
A blender uses the downward force of gravity to drive ingredients into the path of one or more blades. These blades chop and pulverize ingredients, turning whole fruits and vegetables into a liquid that is smooth enough to drunk.
Generally speaking, when you blend an entire fruit or vegetable into a beverage, the result is called a smoothie.
What is Juicing?
Juicers work in a few different ways, but they all separate the liquid of a fruit or vegetable from the pulp and fiber. Generally, the produce is ground up and pressed against a filter that extracts only the liquid juice from your produce, and the pulp is expelled separately.
Juicing and blending are both excellent ways to maintain the recommended levels of healthy fruits and vegetables in your diet. They both save time in preparing, cooking, and eating fruits and vegetables, by transforming them into a simple drink instead.
There are, however, some key differences between the nutrition of juice and the nutrition in smoothies. Here are the biggest differences.
Smoothies can be more diverse
Smoothies can use fruits, vegetables, and juices, but also ice, protein powder, nut butters, yogurt, and a wide range of other ingredients that can boost the overall nutrition of a smoothie, potentially making a full meal replacement beverage.
Juices have more concentrated sugars
While the natural, unrefined sugars in juice are much healthier than refined sugars, juices do have a more concentrated amount of sugars than smoothies, because the plant sugars have been extracted from the plant fibers during the juicing process.
The presence of fiber
The primary difference between smoothies and juice is the amount of fiber in the liquid. Because a smoothie contains all the natural fibers in your fruits and vegetables, it is more filling and better as a meal replacement.
Fiber is crucial for your digestive health, and the pulp of produce can also contain trace minerals that might be lost when you juice and discard the pulp. Retaining the fiber also helps to offset the glycemic effect of sugars in the juice. However, the fiber can be difficult to digest, and the nutrients that stay locked in the plant fibers may not be accessible for your body.
When you juice, the nutrients are absorbed quickly and easily by the body, unhampered by the need to digest fiber. Many people are sensitive to fiber and need to restrict it in their diet.
Without the fiber, juice is a much more densely concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, for a powerful burst of nutrition. Omitting the fiber also makes these nutrients much more bioavailable, as the body is better able to access and use them without breaking down tough plant fibers.
The leftover juice pulp can be incorporated into various recipes. This not only reduces food waste, but provides extra fiber to your diet.
Remember Your Serving Sizes
Whether blending or juicing, it's important to count portions of the fruits and vegetables in terms of what you put into the beverage, not what comes out. For example, if you took an apple, a carrot, and a cup of spinach and blended them, you might get a 12-oz. smoothie. If you took those same ingredients and juiced them, you might get only 4-6 oz. of juice. Either way, you are getting the important nutrients you need from your ingredients.
Some people unconsciously increase the amount of ingredients in their juice, in order to get a more satisfying 12-oz. glass of juice. However, that can also increase the concentration of sugars and overall calories in the juice.
For those who want to monitor their overall caloric intake, it's important to remember that it's what goes in to the juice that's important, not the volume of liquid that comes out.
Can You Juice With a Blender?
You can juice with a blender, although it takes time, and the quality of the juice depends greatly on the quality of your blender. To juice with a blender, you simply blend fruits and vegetables as normal, then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth to separate the juice from the pulp. If you have a low-quality blender, the coarse chunks of produce will not yield much juice.
For optimal nutrition, juicing with a blender is not recommended; straining out the fibers takes time, and the longer your juices are exposed to air, the more oxidation occurs, destroying the delicate nutrients in your juice. Also, leaving your juice sitting out while it is being strained can potentially introduce bacteria.
For the best quality in juice, with the greatest preservation of vitamins and minerals, it is best to use a juicer and drink the juice within 15 minutes, to prevent any accidental warming and reduce oxidation.
Studies have shown that consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day can reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Juicing and blending are both great ways to get the nutrients of whole fruits and vegetables. Juices can be made quickly at home and is great for people who don't eat vegetables because they don't like how they taste.
The big difference between juicing and blending is the presence of plant fibers, which can bulk up a smoothie and make it more filling, or in the case of juicing, is removed from juice for faster, easier digestion. There is no right way to enjoy fruits and vegetables, only the best way that works for you.