Blending vs Juicing: Which One is Healthier? Part 1

This is one of my favorite questions to answer because many people are walking around with misconception about both. People in my gym often discuss the merits of one over the other, and nine times out of ten, I want to stop them and say, “no, you’re wrong because…” I don’t do it though!

Blending (smoothies)

With blending, whole fruits and vegetables are finely chopped until smooth. You drink everything you put in your blender–the leaves, stems, skin, flesh, seeds, etc. A blended drink provides water, water-soluble vitamins and minerals, and fiber. I’ll refer to blended fruit and vegetable drinks as smoothies.

Juicing

Juicing separates the water from the pulp and other solid parts of the fruits and vegetables. You only drink the water and nutrients that dissolve in water. I’m referring to those as juices.

There are two main types of juicers; centrifugal or masticating. Centrifugal juicers spin at a high speed to chop whatever you feed into the juicer. The spinning motion pushes the pulp to the side to separate the juice. Masticating juicers work like your teeth. They grind the vegetables and fruits to squeeze out the juice in a slower but more efficient process. Masticating juicers are expensive. I own neither, and from researching both, masticating juicers seem to be quieter and better for juicing leaves like spinach and kale. Because they spin at a slower speed and generate less heat, some claim that masticating juicers don’t cause nutrient damage. I couldn’t find any scientific evidence to support that.

To Juice or to Blend? It All Comes Down to Fiber

There’s fiber in smoothies and no fiber in juices. That’s when people often go astray.

The argument I hear from clients, friends, and gym fellas in favor of juices is that “they have no fiber so your body absorbs the nutrients better.” Poor fiber getting vilified! I’m sorry folks, but that’s good marketing to sell juicers and juices. We need fiber, and most people are not getting enough fiber as is.  Here are some fiber facts:

  1. Fiber is the single most important piece of detoxing. We ingest toxins and chemicals with food like pesticides and accrylimides from charred meats, and our bodies create toxic by-products during metabolism. Fiber binds with these toxins to push them out of your body as waste. When you don’t have enough fiber, you won’t eliminate as often, and the waste will sit in your digestive tract (colon) longer. This means toxins have more time to infiltrate into your body. Adequate insoluble fiber has been linked to a lower risk of developing digestive conditions like Crohn’s disease and colon cancer.
  2. Fiber slows down the release of glucose into your blood stream, preventing blood sugar (glucose) spikes. While people with pre-diabetes and diabetes should be especially cautious if they opt for juice over a smoothie, everyone would benefit from a slow steady raise in blood glucose. Too much natural sugars from fruits without fiber to slow the digestion and absorption down will cause a spike in blood glucose. Your pancreas will secrete insulin to push glucose into your cells, and when the pancreas overcompensates as a result of a glucose spike, your blood sugar will drop causing a ‘crash’ and mood swings. Overtime, if your pancreas secrets too much insulin often, your cells will stop responding, leading to a condition known as insulin resistance. Fruit juices alone won’t cause insulin resistance, but considering that most Americans eat more sugar and refined carbs than they should and not enough fiber, you want to get as much fiber as you can at every opportunity.
  3. Fiber lowers total cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL). Soluble fiber forms a gel in your intestines that binds with cholesterol preventing its absorption. Diets high in soluble fiber (10-25 g a day) are recommended are part of nutrition therapy to lower cholesterol.
  4. Fiber fills you up and helps you lose weight. Fiber slows down gastric emptying, the process of food leaving your stomach to travel to the intestines. With fiber, your meal stays in your stomach longer so it takes more time for you to feel hungry again. Who wouldn’t want that! Slow gastric emptying also prevents quick glucose absorption and sugar spikes.

Proponents of juicing claim that you’ll get more fruit and vegetable servings in a cup of juice because when the pulp (fiber) is removed, you’ll use more produce to make the juice creating a more nutrient-dense drink. While this may be true for some vitamins and minerals, you’re still missing the fiber. And it’s as important.

Smoothies (blending) Have More Anti-oxidants

If you assume that all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are in the flesh of vegetables and fruits that get squeezed out with water when juicing, you’re wrong. Often, these healthy components are in skins, seeds, or piths that are completely lost with juicing. One study on grapefruits compared flavanoid antioxidants content in grapefruit juice after blending, juicing, and hand squeezing. Blending yielded the highest flavanoid content. In another study on blackberries, there was a 70 to 82 % loss in antioxidants (ellagitannin) when blackberry seeds were removed in juicing.

Juicing for Certain Diseases

The only situation I would recommend juicing over blending is for people with conditions that result in malabsorption. This includes surgical removal of part of the digestive system, like the stomach in cancers and bariatric surgeries or parts of the intestines due to cancers and inflammatory bowel conditions (known as short bowel syndrome). Damage of the intestinal lining, such as in celiac disease, Crohn’s, bacterial and viral infections, and alcohol abuse causes malabsoprtion. In these situations, a juice is recommended. But also in these situation, complete nutrition healing is needed. Juice alone is not therapy.

Is Drinking Better than Eating Vegtables and Fruits?

Read the answer in the second part of this series.

Find out more about the services I offer: food sensitivities testing, medical nutrition therapy, and weight loss coaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    About Nour Zibdeh

    43 Responses to “Blending vs Juicing: Which One is Healthier? Part 1”

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    1. Amnah says:

      Execellent post! The loss of all that fiber from juicing is why I prefer smoothies. I juice occasionally and each time feel bad about tossing all that perfectly good fiber.

      What blender do you recommend? I’m currently in the market for a new one. Perhaps I can sell my juicer to help offset the costs. :-)

      Thank you for sharing!

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Thanks Amnah for the comment :) This is exactly what I feel about tossing good natural fiber! I have a Ninja blender. I really like it, it’s powerful and affordable. I can blend apples and pears (quartered), oranges, frozen berries and bananas. I add spinach and it works too. I’m scared to try whole carrots, I might shred them first or buy shredded carrots instead. Many of my colleagues have Vitamix that they love. With Vitamix, you can make sherberts, soups (blender generates heat), and you don’t have to do any cutting or peeling. I don’t mind some basic prep and preferred to save money. So if you see yourself using a vitamix beyond basic blending and can spend $300, go for it, if not a Ninja is great! I hope that helps!

        • Amnah says:

          I had a mini poll about which blender to buy on my facebook recently. It came down to the Ninja and the Vitamix. I didn’t realize the difference in price until I looked into each. Ninja it is!

          What are your thoughts on re-purposing the discarded fiber from juicing, for example, adding it to soups, quick bread, or atop salads?

        • Jose says:

          I have a ninja and vitamix and love both. I know its not ideal our affordable to all, but the vitamix is a but smaller and portable. I take it to work everyday. My ninja I use at home

        • Lisa says:

          I have a nutri bullet and really like it – for cleaning and ease of use. But, I need a bigger size so i think i may try the Ninja. Thanks.

          Oh, is there anything different in food emulsification or blending?

    2. Carla Sidhu says:

      Nour, it was great to meet you this weekend! I just read your article in the NVDVA newsletter and then found your website/blog. Such a great post to start out the New Year…especially as I’m reading on Facebook how so many are starting their New Year’s cleanses. Hooray for blending and all the wonderful flavors and textures you can with nut butters and yogurt. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Thanks Carla! It was nice meeting you and sipping some fancy tea and networking with amazing RDs :) I do like the hydrating feeling of juices when I don’t add nut butter or yogurt, but these two, as you know, are filling. I’ll be writing about them. Thanks for stopping by!

    3. Mike Nixon says:

      Great article. Lately I have been wondering which is better, blending or juicing, and your article does a wonderful job of articulating the benefits of blending and the shortcomings of juicing. I would definitely like to hear more about managing insulin spikes and reversing insulin resistance and I am looking forward to your views on supplementing smoothies.

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Thanks Mike for the comment! I’m glad you found the article informative. Insulin resistance, glucose spikes, and hormones involved in eating, hunger, metabolism, etc are my latest obsession! I’ll be writing about them–make sure you subscribe to the blog :)

        • maria says:

          Hi nour sorry for my english so what would you reccomend so you can eat everything from the vegetable and fruit what kind of blender can i buy?

          • Nour Zibdeh says:

            I use a Ninja Blender, powerful and affordable. Others recommend a Vitamix, more powerful and versatile, but also more expensive. The price difference between the 2 is great. Read reviews for both products and choose the one that fits your needs and how you plan to use it. Good luck. Happy blending :)

    4. Alan says:

      I agree that fiber is an important component of fruits and vegetables for it’s health benefits. However, much of the most powerful micro-nutrients come from green leafy vegetables such as Kale, Broccoli, Collards and Swiss Chard. Have you tried blending these types of vegetables in a blender with the fiber intact? They’re extremely difficult to enjoy as a smoothie. Much better to juice these and guzzle your daily medicine and get your fiber by eating sweeter, tastier fruits in their whole natural state. Juicers and blenders have specific and separate functions. One is not necessarily better than the other to creating good health.

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Thanks Alan for the comment. I’ve blended frozen broccoli, spinach, and parsley before. Yes, the texture is not as smooth as a juice, and we do like it in our house. I understand if others do not find it appealing. I’m not completely against juicing, but if I have to make a choice, I’d go for a blended drink. From my experience, I find that many of my clients, once they drink their daily juice, don’t try to go beyond that and eat intact whole fruits and vegetables. So, for someone who doesn’t have diabetes and eats wholesome meals in general, and would like to supplement their diet with a juice, I’d say go for it! Enjoy the goodness!

      • Jose says:

        I blend my kale, usually with some chia seeds, a couple of strawberries, a quarter avocado, and my protein powder and I think its great. But I do like both blending and juicing but fiber is big to me so that is a reason I blend about 90% of the time.

        • Nour Zibdeh says:

          Thanks Jose for the comment. I still haven’t used chia seeds in a smoothie but want to. You have a complete there with the protein and avocado–interesting combination!

    5. Rich Donahue says:

      Hi Nour,

      I like your article and it’s well thought out. Fiber is very important to a persons overall health and smoothies may be healthier for that reason. However, juicing does have it’s place. The recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables in somewhere between 5 and 9 (depending whom you ask). I find it very hard to eat that in solid form. I have a busy schedule. Juicing is an excellent way for me to get more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I also eat lightly steamed vegetables and whole fruit so I get my recommended fiber.

      Excellent article on nutrition. Thank you!

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Thanks Rich! Yes, it’s recommended to eat 5 to 9 servings, but did you know that a serving is half a cup? My next article is actually about drinking vs eating :)

        The majority of people have busy schedules and that’s the appeal of drinks (juice or smoothie). They help us get more fruits and vegetables in. I do it, and I make juice for my kids too. And in fact, I think a juice gives me a boost in the afternoon much better than coffee! And you make an excellent point, juices don’t substitute eating fruits and vegetables.. we’re in agreement! Nice to meet you :)

        I don’t own a juicer, so would for you to pitch it! I read that juicers take time to clean, especially masticating juicers, which are the better type. What are your thoughts on that? Is it possible that people spend time cleaning their juicers when they could be spending the time sitting down and eating a meal?

        • Rich Donahue says:

          Noura,
          I’m about half way through a 3 day juice cleanse and that’s all I’ve been doing, washing produce, juicing, then cleaning up. It takes me approximately 1/2 hour to make enough juice for the morning and afternoon, then I juice another fresh batch for dinner. It doesn’t take very much time at all to clean a juicer and it’s well worth the effort. I’d rather juice than cook over a hot stove :-) Just kidding. Cooked food is awesome. My girlfriend and I juice together so it’s quality time. Thanks so much and great article.

    6. Chris Jones says:

      Hi – thought I’d raise a quick issue that you haven’t addressed: the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre. Yes, juicing removes insoluble fibre, but it leaves the soluble fibre in suspension (you just have to look at a juice that has had time to settle to realise it’s nothing like a store-bought, over-processed juice).

      As an IBS sufferer, I have a long list of things I shouldn’t eat much of, which includes every green vegetable under the sun. Juicing lets me get the nutrient load from them, along with the soluble fibre that keeps my digestive system as close to happy as it gets.

      I’ve managed to cut out junk food of any kind and nearly all the over-refined carbs from my diet, however. I do agree that people who are adding juices to a typical western diet aren’t doing enough to help themselves.

      Smoothies are good too – this is my typical breakfast:
      1/4 small pineapple
      1 large banana
      1 good sized handful of baby spinach leaves
      1/4 – 1/2 C Coconut water (not milk)
      1 Tbs Chia

      Comes out a rather fetching shade of green, but tastes delicious!

      cheers from Australia :)

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Hi Chris. Thanks for the comment. You situation, specifically IBS sufferer, makes you one of the exceptions I talk about in the article. People with digestive conditions (such as IBS, IBD, diverticulitis) may not tolerate the fibers in vegetables and fruits. Speaking of IBS, have you looked in the FODMAPs diet? Here’s a link from my blog: http://www.nourition.com/2012/12/20/fodmaps-what-they-are-and-how-they-make-you-sick/ IBS can also be triggered by food sensitivities, and unfortunately, the test I use isn’t available in Australia. But definitely check these 2 diet.

    7. Hiba says:

      While I agree that fiber is very important what do you when people don’t want to try a salad or eating raw vegetables? I have to say juicing had changed my family’s life. We are of middle eastern descent and most of the food my family ate was rice, meats and deep friend swimming in oil vegetables. They paid very little attention to salads, raw vegetables and fruits. They would rather have their Baklava any time over any fruits. However, in 2011 my mother who was about 50 pounds over weight was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was a wake up call to watch what she eats. That is when I bought her a juicer. It changed her life, she lost weight and not from the chemo because that was over January 2012. I bought her the juicer around June (she had gained weight from the chemo oddly enough!). She would juice kale, spinach, beets, watercress and ginger and much more with green apples and cucumbers. She is 40 pounds lighter, looks younger even her face and her skin looks better and tighter. She added salads to her diet as well but the biggest difference was the juicing she did at least 3 times a week!

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        I’m glad to hear your mom is feeling better. Yes, women undergoing chemo from breast cancer often gain weight. Your mom’s situation–chemo patient–is another case where you want the most amount of nutrients in the most tolerable way due to everything else she’s going through. If it’s working for her, encourage her to keep going. I also wanted to comment on your observation of Middle Eastern diets. I grew up eating a Middle Eastern diet too, but we always had a salad on the lunch table, and there were always lots of veggies (green beans, spinach, peas, carrots, tomato sauce, parsley, zucchini, eggplants, beans, etc) and lots of fruits for snacks. So I think a Middle Eastern diet, especially when meals made from scratch, can be very healthy. Yes, people tend to eat so much rice and bread but they can still enjoy the flavors with less portions or healthier substitutions (like brown rice) and lean meats.

    8. Minh Thuy says:

      I absolutely agree with this. I think it’s such a waste to juice vegetables and fruit though. For some reason I just see it as food wastage and can’t bring myself up to juicing. The only exception I’d make for juicing is for cooking or baking at this stage. Recently I’ve started adding a handful of spinach leaves into my smoothies for an extra antioxidant boost. The best part is that you can’t taste the spinach at all.

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Thanks Minh for the comment. Spinach is great in smoothies. It’s soft in texture (compared to kale) and it’s mild in flavor so it doesn’t give smoothies a bitter taste. Enjoy :)

        • nasser says:

          Blending and high speed centrifugal juicers destrys enzymes ! ( due to heat and speed) True or false ?!

          • Nour Zibdeh says:

            Hi Nasser, I haven’t been able to find any research that supports or debunks this. I wish I did. Ideally, your body should have all the enzymes it needs to digest food, however, for people on anti-acid medications and less than optimal diet, this may not be the case.

    9. Kristine Miller says:

      For those who use the Ninja – a question:

      Texture of food/drink is a huge issue for me. If there is one gunky gob of fiber that I find in my smoothie – it’s gag city and I won’t be able to drink any smoothie for a while (weeks) without gagging (gob of fiber or no)! Don’t know why I have this mental block……..maybe I can fix this in hypnosis or something! Ha!

      Does the Ninja do a good job of really breaking it all down like it says? I REALLY want to try but I don’t want to end up having to wait 2-3 weeks to blend again if it doesn’t get it right! And I’d really LOVE to put my Ninja to work!

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        The Ninja is pretty powerful. I’ve never owned a Vitamix (which seems to be the best alternative) so I can’t compare. Make sure you use soft fruits and veggies, and you might even want to pre-cook and then add (like apples > applesauce > then juice). And make sure you blend it long enough and use a spatula to scrape whatever is stuck on the blender. However, I suggest that you speak with a therapist who specializes in food aversions. I don’t know much about you, but I don’t think having strong aversion to textures is normal. If you have kids or plan to have kids, they will pick on this very quickly and you’ll have trouble with feeding your kids. Let me know if you try your Ninja and how it goes.

      • Dan says:

        Kristine,
        I use a Ninja Pro that includes a large container or a small one serving container to blend in. The smaller container really busts up most anything I put in there. If anythings left, I just pour it through a sieve before drinking.

    10. Brandon says:

      What a great and thorough article. I will keep this handy as my go-to page for pointing out the advantages of blending. I have been a loyal Vitamix customer, meaning that I heavily promote it. I love a green smoothie first thing in the morning and after long runs. I am a plant-based, long-distance runner and have used the Vitamix as a tool to get me through training. You point our some very interesting things, such as the fact that we need fiber to push out toxins. I never thought of that. I linked this article to my recent post: http://www.forkstofeet.com/2013/06/juicing-versus-blending.html so that others can have a clearer idea of why people choose blending over juicing. Thanks again and I look forward to reading more!

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Thanks Brandon for stopping by and sharing my article. Good luck with training. Vitamix surely makes excellent smoothies!

        • Alan says:

          OK, another comment… what is it with the Vitamix thing?

          Whenever I read anything about smoothies there’s always someone there praising their Vitamix. I have a big, heavy Kenwood blender, in the UK I had a Philipps, I also have some cheap Chinese thing, all of them blend things just fine.

          What’s so special about a Vitamix and why do people have this compulsion to mention the brand name of their blender? Do they have shares in the company or something? Get paid to post comments?

    11. Alan says:

      I do have one query regarding juices raising one’s sugar load..

      You mention fruit juice but fruits contain fructose, which is different from other sugars and handled by the liver. I think it’s important for people to realize that while fruits are generally good for you, juicing should be primarily about vegetables, rather than fruits.

      Too much fructose results in rapid fat build up, because your body simply can’t absorb it quickly enough. Also we tend to already get too much fructose in our diet from processed foods…

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Hi Alan,
        You’re right, too much frutose results in fat deposit and high triglycerides (fats) level. I always recommend that vegetables make up half the drink at least. I like to separate fructose from natural real fruits from fructose in processed foods. The first one comes with nature’s bounty of fiber, vitamin, minerals, and antioxidants, while processed foods-fructose is devoid of any benefit. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. Happy veggies juicing!

    12. paul goodier says:

      Thank you so much for your information on blend or juice I am new to this and was confused now I am off to buy my first ever blender !! thanks again Paul I love to find some good recipe’s !!

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Hi Paul. Read product reviews. I like my Ninja Blender, it’s powerful and affordable. If you can spend more, buy a Vitamix, it’s more powerful and can be used in making soups and ice-cream. Nour

    13. Jason says:

      Thanks! These recipes are great!

    14. Lori Elias says:

      Mrs Zibdeh
      I was researching juicers and found your information helpful. I am struggling to educate my father who has been a Non Insulin Dependent Diabetic for several years He is on an Oral medication but blood glucose levels continue to be higher than 80-120. (180). I would like him to be educated on an appropriate nutrition plan for an individual with this disease. He is not obese or overweight but thin. Would you be interested in working with us. He loves to cook but doesn’t know where to start.
      Thank you for your time.
      Lori Elias
      Dallas, Texas.

    15. Clare says:

      Hello, I have a question about juicing vs blending and caloric values. If I take a recipe that calls for 1 cucumber, a green apple, 2 kale leaves and an inch of ginger for example, will the calorie content be the same in the juice and the smoothie? Or is the caloric content lower in the juice because we are discarding the fiber?

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Your body does not absorb the fiber… so it doesn’t contribute any calories. The trick is… 1 cup of blended smoothie equals to 1/2 cup juice. So if you want to compare 1 c smoothies with 1 c juice, the juice will have more calories because you will need double the amount of everything. Kale, cucumber, and ginger don’t have that many calories, but once you start adding fruit, the calories and sugar will be concentrated so just be mindful of that. I hope that helps!

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