Green smoothies or fresh vegetable juices? That is a hotly debated topic in the health and nutrition world. And the answer is not as black and white as you may think – although I do have a preference as you will see.
I’m a bit fed up with all the mistruths and exaggerations, so I’m going to share my insights and experience of drinking both green smoothies and juices over the last few years.
Let’s start with the obvious. What’s the difference between a smoothie and a juice?
A juice is made in a juicer that grinds the produce and separates the fibers from the liquid. All the nutrients remain in the liquid and you are left with a dry fibrous pulp.
Whereas a green smoothie is made in a blender, that simply blends all the ingredients together into a smooth liquid. It still contains all of these fibres, which slows down the digestion of the smoothie.
What’s the difference in nutrient content and absorption?
When you drink a juice, it is absorbed very easily and quickly – within a matter of minutes – by the body as there is no fibre slowing down digestion. If you have a compromised digestion or poor absorption of nutrients (which many of us do these days, especially people with celiac disease or other chronic illnesses) then this is a huge deal.
Juicers grind the produce and separate the fibres from the liquid. You are left with a liquid shot of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein and oxygen. These nutrients are absorbed by the body within 15 minutes of drinking the juice, without the body having to expel any energy.
Smoothies are not as easily absorbed as the fibre slows it down and can also act as a block if you don’t have good nutrient absorption.
The arguments for green smoothies
– It doesn’t waste any food (no fibre left over)
In my opinion it is not wasteful to do this. This is your health. It’s incredibly important. Besides, if you have a decent juicer, all that’s left is some fibers with no nutritional benefit. And you can use it as awesome compost for the garden!
– The fibre works as an ‘intestinal broom’ sweeping it clean
If you eat a good diet with lots of veggies, you will get plenty of fibre anyway! This point doesn’t negate the huge benefits of juicing.
– Because of the fibre the fruit in it doesn’t spike your blood sugar
Yes, straight up fruit juice will do this. But using one tart apple per juice will avoid this problem.
All okay points, but in my opinion they are not good enough to outweigh the benefits of juices.
The arguments against juicing
– Juicing is expensive
I put top priority on my health – and juicing is like health insurance. I don’t think you can compare the cost. But even so, I don’t think it’s too expensive. Here in Australia, a bag of 20kg (44lb) organic carrots is $23-$27 and 2kg (4.41lb) organic apples is $7-$10 x 2 ($14). This is about one weeks worth of juices for me drinking 40oz (1.2L) carrot apple juice per day.
– Juicers are hard to clean
I’m always so surprised when I hear this argument. I don’t think the people saying this have ever actually used a juicer! When I was using my oscar neo everyday, I spent about 1 – 2 minutes cleaning up my juicer. I give it a quick scrub under hot water before drinking my juice. These days I have a Norwalk, so it takes a bit longer to juice and clean up, about 10 – 15 minutes per juice. Totally worth it in my opinion – and thats coming from some who does it 10 (yes, 10) times a day!
Why I prefer juices
After reading these regurgitated arguments, I went down the green smoothie path. I was fiercely loyal to my Vitamix, doing my daily 1 litre (1 quart) of green smoothie every morning for 2 years. One day I woke up and realised – “I’m sicker than when I started drinking these!”.
Green smoothies couldn’t help me, for several reasons.
The first is that with celiac disease (and gluten-sensitivity) your intestinal villi (where nutrients are absorbed) is very damaged, so because of all the fibre in the smoothies it was too hard for my body to extract the nutrients out. Large amounts of fibre are not always your friend, despite what we are always told, and it can actually be an irritant for a weak small intestine and colon.
The other important factor is that I have a ‘damp’ digestion (which I only found out recently), and green smoothies just added to this problem – especially since I made them cold by adding ice.
When I started juicing, my health moved leaps and bounds that I’d only dreamt about for years before. I have been doing the Gerson therapy for 5 months now, and I’m currently doing 10 juices a day – 5 green juice, 4 carrot + apple juice and 1 carrot juice (along with a strict diet and supplements). My health is and improving everyday.
So, which is best?
I believe juices are best – generally. As with everything there are lots of factors and nuances. The biggest one here being our bodies are all so different because of so many factors including anatomy, metabolism, composition of bodily fluids, cell structure, gender, age, ancestry, job and physical exertion.
Yes – smoothies definitely have their place. Some people with good digestive systems may be more successful with smoothies than juices.
Smoothies are also great for adding things into like spirulina, chlorella, bee pollen, chia seeds and flax seeds.
It comes down to experimenting with what works for you. And when it comes to juices and smoothies – don’t always believe the dogma, try it for yourself!
I’ll be sharing some of my favourite juices in the next few weeks, so keep your eye out for that (jump on the mailing list so you get it straight in your inbox)!