As green juices and smoothies gain popularity, I’ve been asked more times than I can count, “What exactly is the difference?” While both juicing and blending are great for your health and are excellent ways to incorporate healing, plant-based foods into your diet, they each have their own unique benefits.
My own journey with green drinks began back in the late 1990s when I was diagnosed with a host of issues: Hashiomoto’s (autoimmune thyroid), extensive and pervasive candidiasis, perpetual UTIs, and extremely high mercury levels. I was desperate for ways to give my body the support and nutrition it needed, but my gut was so severely compromised that even when I did eat healthy, I wasn’t absorbing the nutrients. To this day, juicing and blending remain integral to my feel great, look great, sleep great, be great plan. They’re also an important part of the many wellness plans I create for clients and the group classes I offer. Here’s why:
The Benefits of Juicing Juicing extracts the liquid from produce, leaving the majority of the fiber behind. When the fiber is removed, all of the phytonutrients in the plant’s juice, including vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, are instantly absorbed into the body starting with that first sip. Juicing requires much more produce than smoothies, which increases the nutritional content of the drink. For those of us with digestive difficulties who are unable to handle lots of fiber, or for those getting used to a plant-rich diet, juicing is a great option. You reap the maximum health benefit in a gentle, easy-to-digest, easy-to-assimilate form without the GI distress.
When assembling your ingredients, keep the fruit to a minimum so that your green juices aren’t too high in sugar. Or, better yet, omit fruit entirely except for lemon and lime. They add flavor and a tart kick without adding sugar. Ginger and carrots are also excellent flavor boosters. The less sugar in your green juice, the more effective it will be at boosting your immune system and fighting inflammation.
There are bottled, organic green juices that you can buy such as Evolution Fresh, BluePrint, and Trader Joe’s brand, but make sure there isn’t added fruit (besides lemon or lime). This way, the sugar content will be around 10 grams per bottle.
One thing to note: Green juices have a short shelf-life as light and air break down the nutrients, so you should drink up within 15 minutes of juicing. This means that the store-bought, bottled varieties are not as nutrient-dense as juicing yourself.
The Benefits of Blending Popping your vegetables in a blender to make a green smoothie is another great way to get your daily greens. Blending is different than juicing because it incorporates the fiber from the vegetables rather than removing it. The fiber slows down digestion and keeps you full longer. It also makes for a more even, slow absorption of the nutrients so there isn’t the rapid spike in blood sugar that you can sometimes get with juicing.
Unfortunately, you’re getting a smaller serving of vegetables in each glass than you would through juicing. Additionally, because green smoothies contain the fiber juicing cuts out, they can be more difficult for the digestive system to process and less nutrients may get absorbed as a result. And, just as with juicing, the less sugar in your smoothies, the better. I love adding spinach, romaine, butter lettuce, and other leafy greens, as well as cucumber, celery, carrot, zucchini, lemon, and lime to enhance flavor without turning my smoothies into unhealthy sugar bombs.
Regardless of which way you choose to add vegetables to your meals, make sure you are eating as many different types as you possibly can. Consuming veggies raw, cooked, juiced, or blended increases the body’s alkalinity, reducing inflammation and risk of disease with every sip and gulp!