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The Juices vs Smoothies Debate by Nutritional Therapist Eve Kalinik

We caught up with Nutritional Therapist Eve Kalinik to hear her views on the Juicing vs Blending debate and learn more about what we should be putting into our drinks. Try her nutritionally approved Clean Green Smoothie to kick start your day. 

What’s the difference nutritionally speaking between juices & smoothies and which is better for you? 

Juices are made through an extraction process which retains the nutrients but removes the fibre from the produce meaning you need a large amount (i.e. 1-2kg) to yield a single glass. Smoothies are made by blending the entire fruit or vegetable, so you get all the fibre and the nutrients but from a smaller amount of produce.

The two have different health benefits and neither is superior. Juices give you a super boost of nutrients from the sheer volume of material that is being processed. However, they are also entirely carbohydrate in their content (even when you just use vegetables) resulting in an immediate rise of blood sugar levels in the body.

Smoothies, on the other hand, require less produce as you are blending the entire food. Because they retain fibre, plus often protein sources such as milks or nut butters are added, this means a slower and steadier release of sugars into the bloodstream. But then you have less of the volume of nutrients that a juice would provide.

Are vitamins and minerals absorbed more or less easily by the body from a smoothie or a juice?

It really depends on the individual and the ingredients used. Some argue that too many nutrients in one hit can be overwhelming and the body will just expel a lot of them if they are not needed. On the other hand, if you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, this could be a good thing.

Juices are more readily and easily assimilated because the fibre isn't slowing the absorption down. However, this isn't necessarily a positive if you want to manage your blood sugar levels, in which case smoothies would be the better option.

Also, some nutrients can help or inhibit the absorption of others e.g. vitamin c and iron are better paired together. Whichever you choose, stick to vegetables as much as possible with one piece of fruit to sweeten if you need to.

Is it wise to replace a meal with a smoothie/juice or should it be an accompaniment to a meal?

Smoothies can act as a meal replacement if you are ensuring there is some level of protein included. These can be nuts, seeds like hemp, nut or seed butters or clean protein powders. Smoothies can be good for breakfast if you struggle to have time to eat in the morning or need something on the go.

Juices really should be used as a supplement to a healthy diet. In many ways they are the best supplement I can recommend to clients as they provide such a concentrated wealth of vitamins and minerals.  

What are the do’s & don’ts of juicing & smoothie making?

Unequivocally, cold pressed juicing is the best way to consume your juices for the highest nutrient density. However, cold pressed juicers can be pricey so you may be better off treating yourself to the occasional juice when you’re out and about. Remember to drink your juice as soon as possible to retain as much of the nutrient content as possible, as the high speed blades will start to oxidise the produce and cause the nutrients to deplete. If you do want to invest in a juicer, I really rate Hurom’s masticating juicers, which work with a chewing method rather than spinning blades and therefore retain more of the nutrients. You can keep these in the fridge for a couple of days with only minor reductions in the nutritional value.

For smoothies, you also want to minimise the amount of blending time to retain maximum nutrient content. Your best bet is to invest in a good blender. I love the Vitamix S30 as you only need to process for seconds to get a smooth texture. The other great thing about this machine is that you can attach the lid and take your drink with you, so it’s particularly convenient for on the go.

What would you advise as the most balanced, nutrient-dense smoothie/juice?

The first thing I would say is don’t use too many ingredients. It isn’t a case of “the more the better” but rather getting good quality produce so wherever possible opt for organic produce that’s seasonal and local. For smoothies, I always consider avocado a great ingredient since it's nutrient dense and provides a beautiful texture. Generally, stick to one piece of fruit whether that’s an apple, banana, pear or berries to avoid having too high a sugar content, then add coconut oil to provide a good source of healthy fat, something protein based e.g. nuts, seeds, nut or seed butters or a clean protein powder. And finally a good quality organic superfood powder, like baobab or moringa, but again check this is organic and from a reputable source. My Clean Green Smoothie includes a range of these and works well as a post workout option too.

For juices, if you do need the sweetness then I would certainly encourage the one piece of fruit mantra here too although veggies like beetroot and carrot are naturally sweet so you may not feel as though you need it. Really the aim here is to load up on your veggies, particularly the green ones as these generally pack in the most nutrients.

Article by Nutritional Therapist Eve Kalinik.