If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked, “What’s the difference between juicing and blending?” I could open an animal sanctuary and pay for you all to come and visit!
I began incorporating both juices and smoothies into my diet over 16 years ago when my cancer diagnosis had me searching for ways to give my body the support and nutrition it needed. Juicing and blending became—and have remained—staples in my feel-great plan ever since. They’re also important parts of the wellness plans I create, such as Crazy Sexy You (my 21-day total wellness program).
And while these practices have become increasingly popular in the last several years, some of you may still be confused about their differences and benefits. Each method has its unique perks, but rest assured they’re both fabulous ways to incorporate nutrition-packed produce into your diet.
The Benefits of Juicing
Juicing extracts the liquid from the fruits and vegetables, leaving the majority of the fiber behind. By removing the fiber, all of the nutrients in the plant’s juice—vitamins, minerals, enzymes—instantly flood our bodies with goodness, especially when enjoyed first thing in the morning before any other food hits your system. Just think of the added volume of veggies you can pack in your belly, sweet unicorn! Even those of us with the heartiest of appetites would find it challenging to consume the same amount of raw vegetables and fruits with a fork.
Juices also give your digestive system a little rest by removing most of the fiber (which takes a lot of energy to digest). Since your body works hard on your behalf 24/7, it’s nice to give it some R&R. That’s not to say you should avoid fiber—it’s super important for you and helps keep ya regular. But if you’re upgrading your overall diet to include lots of plant-based, whole foods, you’ll be getting plenty of it, especially if you include smoothies and healthy, home-cooked chow.
Got digestive ouchies? Juicing is a great option for folks whose digestive systems are too sensitive to handle lots of fiber, or for those getting used to a plant-rich diet. If that’s you, juicing ensures you can enjoy the benefits of boatloads of awesome produce without suffering any tummy troubles for your efforts. For people focused on healing or repair in general, juices offer maximum health benefits in a gentle, easy-to-digest, easy-to-assimilate form. I’ve also heard that some folks get turned off by the texture of smoothies. If that’s you, then juicing is a fantastic option!
Keep in mind that green juices aren’t complete meals, whereas smoothies can be. Some folks enjoy a green juice first thing in the morning or for an afternoon pick-me-up. If you have a juice in the morning and don’t want a full meal right away, make sure to grab a hearty mid-morning snack to keep your energy up. If you want your afternoon green juice to have more staying power, enjoy it with a handful of nuts or seeds. This will help you make sure you’re getting all of the essential nutrients you need, including the protein and fiber juices don’t include.
To ensure your green juices aren’t too high in fruity sugar, use three servings of veggies for every one serving of fruit. Or go veggie crazy and just use some lemon, lime, ginger, carrots or romaine to add tangy sweetness to your drinks. The lower the sugar, the more effective the green juice will be at boosting your immune system and fighting inflammation.
The Benefits of Green Smoothies
Blending on the other hand… blends! The ingredients are whirled and pureed into scrumptious smoothies that provide the benefits of fruits and veggies along with their heart-healthy, gut-friendly fiber. Folks who are watching their blood sugar sometimes prefer blending to juicing because the fiber ensures a slow and steady absorption of sugar into your bloodstream.
Besides all the great fiber, smoothies allow you to use fantastic foods that juicers can’t always handle. Take sprouts, for instance—those tiny powerhouses of plant nutrition. Sprouts will shoot right through a centrifugal juicer without getting juiced, but they blend up perfectly in smoothies. Nut butters and superfood powders can give you (and your energy levels) a powerful boost, but they can’t be juiced. Blend them up, though, and you’re on your way to all sorts of flavorful and even medicinal drinks.
Smoothies have another important advantage: They can help you feel fuller longer. Protein, fiber, healthy fats and complex carbs create sustainable energy. If you fill up your smoothies with lots of nutrient-packed ingredients, they can even serve as well-rounded, convenient and delectable meals. Plus, they support healthy digestion because of the fiber and other nutritious ingredients.
When blending up your delish smoothies, include at least one veggie for every two fruits. Start with a tightly packed cup of leafy greens like spinach or kale, and add a cup of frozen fruit (such as frozen berries or mango, or raw fruit plus a cup of ice) and a banana or avocado for creaminess. Then pour in your liquid of choice (unsweetened nondairy milk, water, coconut water, etc.), filling the blender up to the level of the other ingredients. If you’re feeling adventurous, sneak in a tablespoon or two of hemp seeds, almond butter or other nuts/seeds for protein, and top it off with bonus superfoods like matcha, cacao, maca, spirulina or chia seeds. Blend and go! This formula will serve one to two people depending on appetite.