You’ve got plenty of friends who swear by liquid breakfasts and lunches, who go on juice detoxes and claim to feel incredible because of it. Then there are those who say that juicing and blending destroy all of the most valuable nutrients in food, and remove so much fibre that it hardly seems worth bothering. So who’s right?
The simplest answer is: They’re both right. Juicing and blending can yield some deliciously healthy results, but, like anything, overdo it and you could end up with something that’s less super smoothie, and more sugar shake.
Blending and juicing: what’s the difference?
Let’s keep this super simple for now — you can think of blending as very finely chopping into a puree often whisked in with air bubbles to create a ‘foamy texture’, with a result that’s thicker and often more fibrous.
Juicing is the process of pressing fruit and veg until the natural liquids, vitamins, and minerals are extracted. Juicers extract juice from fresh fruits and vegetables in one of two ways: by chopping and spinning the produce at a high rate of speed (centrifugal juicers), or by grinding the produce (masticating juicers).
This process strips away any solid matter from the fruits and vegetables and you’re left with liquid only, you’ll lose more of the fibre, and the result will be smoother.
Do blending and juicing destroy fibre?
It depends. There are very few legitimate studies on whether blending and juicing destroy fibre, and considering that ‘fibre’ is such a general term for what is a very complex nutrient group.
First, we have to understand what we mean by Fiber.
The 2 Main Types of Fiber
There are 2 main types of fiber in fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fibre and soluble fibre.
Insoluble fiber helps to keep the bowels regular and fills you up. This in turn, speeds up the passage of food through the digestive tract and contributes to healthy bowel movements. Insoluble fiber include cellulose, hemicellulose and lignins. This is mostly removed from the juice (the stringy stuff you have to clean out of your juicer).
Soluble fiber absorbs water like a sponge and provides bulking matter that acts as a prebiotic to support good bacterial growth and digestive health. It helps regulate blood sugar and slows the transit of food through the digestive tract. Soluble fibers include pectins, gums and mucilage. This is still present in the juice.
What about vitamins and minerals?
Both juices and smoothie both contain vitamins and minerals. Juicing provides a very nutrient-dense beverage in a smaller amount of liquid, for the same concentration of vitamins and minerals in a smoothie, you would need a much larger portion and that may mean you consume way too much sugar to benefit.
Are juices and smoothies good meal replacements?
This is a sticky subject, because for most active adults, the calories contained in a single, moderately-sized smoothie aren’t enough to constitute a full meal. Not unless you’re trying to lose weight, but even then, the nutrient balance in most smoothies is a little off for a square meal.
Fruit smoothies, while high in vitamins and minerals, can be lacking in protein and fat, and be high in sugar. Smoothies containing peanut butter, milk etc., may be higher in protein and fat, but if they’re over-blended, you could lose some of that fibre. Plus, drinking your meals isn’t necessarily the most satisfying way to go, and you may end up snacking anyway.
Our advice, with all of these things, is to juice and blend once in a while if you enjoy it, but to remember that eating whole, healthy food is always the best way to go in the long run.