Almost 117 million adults in The United States — roughly half of the entire population — are dealing with one or more preventable, diet-related chronic diseases.  So it should come as no surprise that healthier dietary alternatives are needed!

Simple changes in our eating habits, to include more fruits and vegetables, could make a big difference in our overall health.  Yet, in studies done by the U.S. Department of Health, all age categories show a ‘below recommended’ consumption of vegetables; for fruits, the same is true for ages 9 and above. And according to the Harvard School of Public Health, our average fiber intake is only 15 grams a day, instead of the recommended 25 grams or more.

The Health.gov 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends more focus on nutrient-dense foods and beverages and increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables. The approach suggested is to ‘make a shift’ from processed, less nutritious foods, to more natural, nutrient-rich options that help develop more positive eating habits.

With so many people becoming more health conscious and looking for new ways to improve their nutrition, the question often arises, “Should I be drinking juices or smoothies?”

The answer is: YES!  Yes to either, or both!

Both options increase fruit and/or vegetable consumption, and offer concentrated nutrition, with the anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, and vitamins of their main ingredients — largely plant based.  But there are some distinct differences, and the real answer to the question depends on your goals or health needs.

Generally, “juicing” is thought to provide faster absorption of high-density nutrition, as it is a pure liquid extraction of nutrients from the fruits or vegetables used. With the fiber removed, juices are not as filling as smoothies, so you can consume more.  Since there is less to digest, juices are often favored for system detox or cleanses.

Smoothies are more often the choice for ‘whole food’ approaches to nutrition, as they include both the high-density nutrients, as well as the fiber content from the ingredients.With a protein source added, they are more likely to be used as a meal replacement.  They are filling and offer multiple food group nutrition.

Advantages of Juicing

  • More concentrated nutrition
  • Easier absorption
  • Encourages use of vegetables – lower sugar content
  • Quick energy boost
  • Convenience – no chopping, cooking
  • Ready to go vegetable/fruit nutrition

Disadvantages of Juicing

  • High quantity input for juice output – may be more expensive
  • More storage space needed for all the fruits/vegetables
  • Not a complete meal replacement, no fiber
  • Loss of nutrients in unused skin/peel of ingredients
  • May need more expensive equipment – more difficult to clean

Advantages of Smoothies

  • Whole food approach
  • Helps meet needs for fiber intake
  • Suitable for added protein item – meal replacement
  • ‘Invisible vegetables’ – no one knows they are eating spinach!
  • Might be more ‘family friendly’ – kids tend to like smoothies
  • Standard kitchen blender is the only equipment needed

Disadvantages of Smoothies

  • May have higher sugar content if only fruit-based
  • May have higher calorie count, depending on other items added
  • Some vegetables not conducive to blending unless cooked soft first
  • Possibly lower total nutrition – fiber fills you up faster

Whether you are focused on improving a young family’s nutrition for healthy growth and development or making sure that as you age, you choose more nutritious options to help stay in good shape, both juices and smoothies can be an easy way to meet those goals.

Whichever choice you make, you’ll be adding heart-healthy fruits and vegetables to your daily routine, and that’s always a good ‘recipe’ for an active, energetic approach to enjoying life!

Sources:

Martinac, P. Juicing vs. Smoothies (n.d.) retrieved January 19, 2017, from Healthy Eating website, http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/advantages-juicing-vs-smoothies-7552.html

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, (n.d) retrieved January 20, 2017, from U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website, https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/