Juicing and Smoothies

If you’re not big into fruits and vegetables, juicing is a good way to get into them. Aim to eat two whole fruits and three to four vegetables a day. Choose them in different colors, so you get a good mix of vitamins and minerals. When you juice, you don’t get the fiber that’s in whole fruits and vegetables. Juicing machines extract the juice and leave behind the pulp, which has fiber.

To make use of the fiber, the pulp can go back into the juice or use it in cooking. A great thing to do is to add it to muffin batter, or to make broth for cooking soup, rice, and pasta. The amount of calories in juicing is very important. If using up to four fruits, the calories start adding up. If vegetables are used to juice, the calories are a lot less. If they use mainly vegetables, add an apple or kiwi for flavor. Calories are a concern if it’s pure fruit juice. You can make your juice more balanced by adding protein. Some good sources are almond milk, Greek yogurt, flaxseed, and peanut butter.

Vegetable juices and green smoothies (also called blended salads) both have a place in the nutrient diet. Both are great ways to get more raw leafy greens into your diet, in addition to your usual salads. A green smoothie, which is a blended mix of leafy greens, fruits and nuts and/or seeds, is an excellent, portable morning meal. It contains all the fiber from the greens and fruit, plus fat from the nuts or seeds to keep you full and limit the rise in glucose from the fruit.

A vegetable juice with a small amount of fruit, depending on size, may be as calorie-dense as the smoothie, but will not be a satisfying meal on its own. For this reason, if a person has a substantial amount of weight to lose, it is not recommended to juice as often because it will likely add too many extra calories (without the feeling of satisfaction) and compromise the persons weight loss efforts. Also for those with diabetes, I do not recommend juicing, since the sugar in the juice enters the bloodstream rapidly without fiber.

Blending and juicing both disrupt the mechanical structure of plant cells, which increases the accessibility of many micronutrients. Many beneficial micronutrients – carotenoids, polyphenols, and folate for example – are often bound to structural components or large molecules within the plant cell like fiber, proteins, and starches. Processing, heating, and chewing break down these cellular structures to increase the availability of the bound micronutrients; however, many may not be accessible for our absorption by chewing alone. Blending increases our likelihood of absorbing these nutrients. Importantly, the micronutrients that are bound to fiber within the plant cell may be removed with the fiber by juicing and therefore be more available via blending than juicing.

Also, with smoothies, adding nuts or seeds as a healthful fat source, increases the accessibility of carotenoids, since the presence of fats is known to increase carotenoid absorption from leafy greens, it is possible that nuts and seeds in a smoothie could increase absorption further. For those who have nutrient absorption problems, gastrointestinal conditions, or other medical conditions, vegetable juices (especially cruciferous vegetables) are often useful as a supplement to a healthful diet, providing additional beneficial nutrients to promote healing.

Fresh green juices are an opportunity to seriously load up on nutrients, at much higher densities than with smoothies. That’s because with a smoothie, the fiber adds volume that fills hunger up using a fraction of the produce that a stomach could hold if a person could removed the fiber and drank it as juice.

 

For example, if a person made a 1-quart smoothie Juice is basically a smoothie with the fiber removed. This means that fresh green juices are an opportunity to seriously load up on nutrients, at much higher densities than with smoothies (and I really mean it… that stomach will load up!). That’s because a person can only drink so much, and with a smoothie, the fiber adds volume that fills a person up using a fraction of the produce that a stomach could hold if a person removed the fiber and drank it as juice.

 

For example, if a person made a 1-quart smoothie they might use 1 cucumber, 1-2 bananas, and 1-2 handfuls of greens plus some water. But a quart of green juice they might use 2 large cucumbers, ½-1 bunch of celery, an entire bunch of dark leafy greens, plus 1-2 handfuls of herbs. (Bananas don’t juice well, so don’t include them.) See the difference? A person may consume a lot more produce (and greens, in particular) in a made juice. This makes juice more expensive by volume – another point to consider – but there is lot more nutrition.

 

But isn’t the fiber important? Yes! Fiber plays a vital role in health. That’s precisely why people opt to have both green juices and green smoothies in their life. While green juice as a powerful nutrient-dense elixir that is healing, energizing, and massively health promoting, green smoothies are satisfying, grounding, and colon-cleansing (from the fiber).

First, if in need of a way to quickly and dramatically improve health, perhaps because the body is fighting disease, go with green juice, hands down. On the other hand, if a person is simply looking for more healthy options in their life, they’re not in ill health, in fact they are a cheerleader for the mantra that “prevention is hot”, then smoothies are a great way to start. Or, if a person is looking to get more nutrition in their life, but they don’t want to spend a lot of money on the produce, then consider green smoothies. Or if they are looking to add health to their life while taking very little time out of their day, green smoothies are much faster and easier than juicing. And finally, if a person would like to lose weight, the fiber in smoothies makes them very filling as a super healthy, low-calorie meal replacement.

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