Juicing vs Blending: What works for you?

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It seems people either have a strong opinion or are neutral on whether it is better to juice or to make smoothies with a blender. They are both great ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your eating plan.

What's the difference between juicing and blending? Does one fit your health needs and lifestyle better than the other?  

What's the difference between juicing and blending?

A juicer is different from a blender in that a juicer separates the liquid from the fibrous materials of the fruits and vegetables, while a blender does not separate the liquid from the fiber. 

A blender consists of a blender jar with a rotating metal blade and an electric motor in the base.  A control panel with various settings is on the base.

A centrifugal juicer quickly (6500-14,000 rpm) separates the fiber from the liquid. Fruits and vegetables are pushed through a feed tube and forced against a fast-spinning metal blade. The produce is then cut and spun against a screen. The juice flows down a chute into a collection container while the pulp is ejected into another container.

When using a masticating juicer, the produce needs to be cut in small pieces because the diameter of the feed tube is smaller than that of a centrifugal juicer.  A masticating juicer crushes the produce at a slow speed (36-100 RPM). The produce is crushed then pushed through a screen. 

Since the speed of the juicing process is slower than that of one using a centrifugal juicer, there isn’t as much heat introduced to the produce and, there is less oxidation. This results in a more nutritious juice with a greater juice yield than produced by a centrifugal juicer.

Juicing and blending are similar in that they both transform fruits and vegetables into drinks. They are a convenient way to get your daily requirement of fruits and vegetables.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans are not enough fruits and vegetables.

The Dietary Guidelines for American 2015-2020 suggest we eat 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day. 

Juicing

Juicers separate the liquid of a fruit or vegetable from the pulp and fiber. Most juicers grind the produce and press it against a filter that extracts the liquid juice from the produce, and the insoluble fiber (pulp) is expelled separately.

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 to 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, the 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.

While the natural, unrefined sugars in juice are much healthier than refined sugars, juices have a more concentrated amount of sugars than smoothies because the plant sugars have been extracted from the plant fibers during the juicing process.

We have a detailed article that discusses the benefits of juicing that might be of interest.

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 drink.

These are often called smoothies and have more volume than when the same amount of fruits and vegetables are juiced. A standard, inexpensive blender or a high-end product like a Vitamix Blender can be used. Vitamix recently came out with a lower price point blender than the Vitamix 5200.

The primary difference between blending ingredients and juicing 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.

A wide variety of ingredients can be used to make smoothies. Some of the more common foods are fruits, vegetables, plant-based protein powder, yogurt, chia and flax seeds, nut butter, ginger, and tumeric. These ingredients boost overall nutrition, potentially making a complete meal replacement beverage.

Fiber

Since the presence or absence of fiber is an integral difference between juicing and blending we'll talk a bit about the two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Most plant foods have a combination of both.

Soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that dissolves in water. It is found in the grains barley and oats, beans, lentils, peas, apples, carrots, and citrus fruits. Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol, and glucose levels according to Mayo Clinic.

Orange juice vs. eating an orange is an example of how glucose levels can be affected. When you drink a glass of orange juice, your blood sugar rises quickly. However, if you eat an orange, the sugar uptake rate is more steady due to the soluble fiber.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is the kind of fiber that does not dissolve in water. It is found in whole grains such as whole-wheat flour and wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.

This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. This is beneficial to those who have a problem with constipation or irregular stools.

According to the Mayo Clinic, whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Can you juice with a blender? 

You can juice with a blender, although it takes time, and the quality of the juice depends on the quality of your blender.

To juice with a blender, blend fruits and vegetables, then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth to separate the juice from the pulp. If you have a low-quality blender, 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 juice, with the greatest preservation of vitamins and minerals, it is better to use a juicer than a blender.

Is juicing or blending right for you?

The answer to the juicing vs blending question depends on your health situation and lifestyle.

Whether you choose juicing or blending, it will increase the number of fruits and vegetables you consume. Both methods make it easy for your body to absorb nutrients. 

Fiber

Smoothies retain the fiber, which can improve your digestive health and in some cases you might feel fuller. However, juicing may be the better option if your health provider recommends you follow a low-fiber diet. 

There's no reason you can't have the best of both - juice and blend so you get the fiber. You can also juice and eat whole fruit to meet part of your daily fiber intake goal.

Budget

Smoothies can be made in a relatively inexpensive blender. However, it is better to use a high-speed blender if you plan to prepare green smoothies or smoothies with nuts or dates. These high-speed blenders can be expensive.

If you are new to juicing or blending and want to try it out, buying an inexpensive centrifugal juicer or a blender is an option. If you are ready to commit to juicing and blending regularly, you can upgrade.

Convenience

If you have a masticating juicer, you can make your juice ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 48 hours. However, if you have a centrifugal juicer, the juice should be consumed right away or at most within 24 hours.

Smoothies can be blended and then refrigerated or frozen.

Versatility

You may want to juice greens and blend fruits to make smoothies.  For example, you could have a fruit smoothie in the morning and drink green juice during the afternoon.

Juices can easily be carried in a stainless steel drink container or a dark colored glass bottle.

Smoothies can be frozen in a push-up or popsicle mold. They can be put in lunchboxes or refrigerator for grab and go.

Some people like to add nuts, seeds, and yogurts to their smoothies. This is beneficial because it adds healthy protein and fats.

Track Your Serving Sizes

Whether blending or juicing, it's essential to count portions of the fruits and vegetables used in the recipe. 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 important nutrients you need from your ingredients.

Some people unconsciously increase the number of ingredients in their juice 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, what goes into the juice is the key factor, not the volume of liquid that comes out.

Final Thoughts

The 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, be removed from juice for faster, easier digestion.

Juicing and blending are both great ways to get the nutrients of whole fruits and vegetables. Juices can be made quickly at home and are great for people who don't eat vegetables because they don't like how they taste.

There is no right way to enjoy fruits and vegetables, whether eating them raw, juicing, or blending. The key is finding out what works best for you.

Updated 6/8/21