Power Smoothies. Green Juices. Superfoods. We’ve all heard people raving about them, but what’s all the hype about? Fresh juices and smoothies are becoming popular around the world, and for good reasons. They’re good for you, fun to make, and help you thrive in life.
They both can deliver high amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and micronutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re portable, delicious and nutritious.
Maybe you heard about juicing from a friend who was trying to lose weight, or about smoothies from your physically active coworker. Whether you’re trying to manage your weight, have more energy, detoxify your body, or heal from an illness/disease, smoothies and juices can definitely help.
But how do you tell which one is best for you?
Before you rush out and buy an appliance, there are some things to consider.
Benefits of Smoothies
1. Low Glycemic Index
Whole fruits and vegetables have a lower GI than the same ingredients when juiced. Smoothies give you the juice as well as the fiber, which serves multiple important functions in your body.
2. High in nutrients
They’re filling and leave you satiated without feeling overly full. They’ve got enough to carry you to your next meal.
3. Improved digestion and elimination
Fiber helps the body cleanse the intestines and colon, and promotes regular elimination of toxins and waste. The blender blades have chopped the fiber into tiny, easily digestible pieces. This is a huge bonus for people whose systems are more sensitive and struggle to digest large amounts of insoluble (unable to break down) plant fiber.
4. Great for additional goodies
When I make smoothies, I feel a bit like a mad scientist with all the different ingredients and combinations I try. I love adding in different superfoods, protein powders, nut butters and seeds for endless taste combos. Here are some of my favorite things to add to smoothies (not all at once!):
- Hemp protein powder
- Maca powder
- Acai powder
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds/Linseeds (golden or brown)
- Raw Cacao bean powder
- Almond butter or ground almonds (I use an old coffee grinder for grinding my nuts and seeds)
- Peanut butter
5. Healthy alternative to empty snacks
Smoothies are full of fiber and other ingredients that are slow to break down (nuts, seeds, yogurt, etc.). They provide your body something to “chew on” for much longer than coffee, candy and other processed foods.
6. Basic equipment is fairly inexpensive
Basic blenders can be found for pretty cheap. Make sure the blades and motor are powerful enough to blend the ingredients you want to use. You can also get a high-quality blender like a Vitamix (it will pulverize anything you put in it!), but they’re expensive and sell for about the same as a good juicer.
1. More work for the body
The body needs to do a little more work to digest and deal with the insoluble plant fiber. This can be an issue for those who are more sensitive to high amounts of fiber or whose “digestive fire” (stomach acids and enzymes) isn’t as strong.
2. Limited serving sizes
The amount of veggies and fruits that you can cram into a smoothie will be less, as the fiber/plant matter takes up volume.
3. Extra superfoods & protein powders can be expensive
These tasty additions can run up your grocery bill. You don’t need very much of each in a smoothie, but the initial investment can be quite shocking!
Benefits of Juices
1. Extracts all the nutrients
The process of juicing extracts almost all the water and nutrients from fruits and vegetables, leaving you with a powerful, nutrient-packed liquid.
2. Barely any work for your body
It’s easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients for more immediate use, as there is no fiber to break down. I often make small amounts of juice when recovering from being sick. It’s really easy for my body to absorb and full of the good stuff my body needs to get strong again.
3. Fast acting
No fiber (pulp) in juices means the body is able to assimilate the nutrients in a matter of minutes. Juicing is great right after hard physical exertion or exercise, when your body is highly receptive to and ready for good nutrients.
4. Easily satisfy your daily fruit and veggie servings
You can get a staggering number of fruits and vegetables into one glass of juice!
5. More vegetable options
It’s easier to pack vegetables into your diet when you include them in juices. There are certain vegetables—carrots, beets, broccoli, and celery—that are perfect for juicing but might give your blender a bit of trouble (unless you own a beast like the Vitamix).
6. More colorful ingredient choices
Since you can juice pretty much anything, but can’t blend everything (unless you have a Vitamix or a different powerful blender), the world of fruits and veggies is yours to play with.
If you’ve ever tried to blend a raw beet with a middle-of-the-line blender, you know what I mean! Eating your colors is a great way to ensure that you’re getting all the minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and micronutrients your body needs to thrive.
7. Cleanses and detoxifies the body
There are so many wonderful recipes out there that detoxify specific organs (e.g. liver, kidneys, pancreas), and ones that target certain conditions such as inflammation, constipation, sugar cravings, and poor vision.
1. A good juicer is more expensive
Good juicers can be very expensive, but you pay for what you get. The more expensive juicers are easier to clean, and more effective in squeezing out every last bit of juice from your produce. It saves you money in the long run, but the initial investment can be quite pricey.
2. Low-quality juicers are a PAIN to clean
If you don’t have a well-designed, good quality juicer, the clean up process alone can be enough to turn you off of juicing all together! Spend a little time researching juicers within your price range. You’ll be thankful you did.
3. Produce bill can be quite high
Juicing uses a ton of fresh produce, and this can quickly get expensive depending on where you get your produce. It’s important to buy organic as often as possible (especially if your ingredients are on the Dirty Dozen List). Minimizing or eliminating chemically sprayed food decreases the toxins in your body. Fewer toxins = a healthier you!
4. Not as filling or satiating
Juices are high in nutrients but don’t often fill you up for long. If you find you get hungry within a few hours, make sure you have healthy snacks around to avoid reaching for sugary or processed foods to tide you over.
5. Can affect your blood sugar levels more rapidly
This is important for those who struggle with blood sugar crashes or hypoglycemia. Certain ingredients, when juiced, have a high GI (convert to glucose quickly in the body) and can cause blood sugar levels to spike.
These include apples, carrots, beets and citrus juices. If you combine them with other ingredients, or limit your intake to one glass a day, it will minimize the effects on your blood sugar levels.
Whether you choose to juice or blend, you’re taking a big step toward living a healthier life. You’re making a conscious effort to love and nourish your precious body, and that alone will change your life in big and powerful ways.
So let the mad scientist loose and have fun discovering your favorite recipes.
Have juices or smoothies changed your life? Helped you connect more to your body or to someone you love?
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