Ever wonder who’s the winner in the popular juicing vs smoothie debate?
I have certainly heard a lot of buzz lately about juicing yet my daughter-in-law swears by smoothies.
While I haven’t wandered through the local mall since before this pandemic began I do recall seeing juice bars pop up recently.
I have heard that both are good for you in some ways and not so good in other ways.
So what is the truth?
I am always concerned about ensuring we eat a well-balanced diet, I got thinking about whether juicing or smoothies should become a part of our meal plan.
The added concern of sometimes having our type 1 diabetic grandson with us makes gaining that knowledge even more essential.
Naturally, if he sees us having a juice or smoothie he may also want one.
Which is better for him?
So let’s begin by learning…
What is juicing?
Juicing is the process of extracting the water and nutrients from the fibrous portion of the fruit or vegetable. To do this you would require an actual juicer. No big deal as you can easily purchase one almost anywhere these days. Juicing allows you to consume highly concentrated amounts of vitamins and minerals without consuming the filling fibre. This can be good at times and not so good at times.
Juicing is perfect for those people who really have a hard time getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet.
I mean some people really don’t like fruits and vegetables and can go days without consuming either.
These people are seriously risking their health by not consuming the vital nutrients their bodies need for optimal health.
Juicing would be the perfect way for them to get the nutrients they need.
Sometimes when we are sick or not feeling well having juice is the better option. It can deliver maximum nutrients without filling up an already upset stomach.
Mixing green juice with a green apple and a bit of ginger or cinnamon can disguise the taste of those essential vegetable nutrients.
Keep in mind that with juicing those nutrients are highly concentrated you really only need a little but it won’t be very filling because you are not consuming any fibre.
We know that juicing removes the fibre but did you know that we also need a certain amount of fibre to keep things functioning properly.
Our gut health is dependent on fibre as well as nutrients.
Eating fibre is what gets things moving through our intestinal tract so a lack of fibre can cause constipation.
Another potential problem with juicing is the high sugar content of fruits and some vegetables like beets and carrots.
This high sugar content can cause blood sugar spikes.
When juices contain more fruits than veggies they can contain far more carbs than you realize so be mindful of the amount of juice you are drinking.
If you are eating whole vegetables and fruit with your meals you likely only need a small amount of juice.
What are smoothies?
Smoothies are typically made by blending whole fruits and veggies with liquid.
This means you will be consuming a rather filling thick liquid that contains both the nutrients and the fibre.
Smoothies essentially keep all nutrients from your fruit and veggies intact because you blend the whole fruit or vegetable.
This means you can add extra nutritional boosters.
For example, you could add some greek yogurt if you wanted more protein. Again these nutrients are highly concentrated so a little goes a long way.
You can also add additional healthy fat such as nuts and seeds.
Because of this ability to add extra nutritional boosters, smoothies can be an excellent meal replacement.
It is too easy to consume too many servings of fruits and vegetables if you only make a smoothie with produce.
This would lead to consuming much more calories than you can burn especially if that smoothie accompanies a meal.
An example would be having a smoothie with a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.
A smoothie should actually be the meal, that’s it, just the smoothie.
When I make a smoothie I am cautious about the amount of produce I use, I also add water to help blend it and if it needs thickening ice cubes tend to work quite well when added in the blender.
I also have a smoothie for breakfast on a busy morning.
When it comes to juicing vs smoothies for diabetics there are several things to consider.
Juicing removes the pulp so you would in fact be consuming highly concentrated nutrients.
While this sounds great you need to be cautious if you are using fruits in your juice.
Fruits and some vegetables (beets and carrots) contain high levels of sugar and without the fibre to help slow the digestion process can cause significant blood glucose spikes.
On the other hand, if you choose a smoothie you will also be consuming the fibre. Fibre is essential to diabetics because it slows the digestion process helping to control blood glucose levels more easily.
Again watch your portion control.
So what do we do for our type 1 diabetic grandson, juice or smoothie?
The short answer would be both, depending on the situation.
Let me explain.
When Alex’s blood sugars are too low he requires some fast-acting sugar to start raising those levels back to within the target range set by his doctors. We have found that a small bit of fruit juice works very well in these situations and when we test his blood sugar again 15 minutes later the levels are rising. This helps us avoid any serious hypoglycemic events.
There are other times when Alex may have a cold or flu and just doesn’t feel like eating. Rather than force him to eat when he really doesn’t want to we have found giving him a smoothie made with vegetables and a small bit of fruit as a meal replacement works well. He gets the nutrition he needs to aid recovery from his illness in a form that is easy on the stomach. Plus he is also getting the fibre which will help slow digestion reducing the risk of blood sugar spikes.
Alex never has either juice or a smoothie as a drink with a meal.
As I mentioned juice is used as a high sugar snack for treating lows and smoothies are used as a meal replacement when he is sick which thankfully isn’t often.
We all have our favourite recipes and these are a few of mine. I usually have these for breakfast and find them quite satisfying and don’t require a snack before lunch.
I love strawberries and usually pick an abundance at the local Upick farm. They freeze easily for use in the winter which I find fabulous. I have also used wild strawberries that I pick in my own backyard.
1 cup strawberries (frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup water
Blend in a blender add ice or water to create the consistency you like.
Peach Rasberry Smoothie
This is so refreshing and I just love it all year long. I pick up peaches at the local farmers’ market and slice and freeze them for use year-round.
6 oz. plain fat-free yogurt
1 medium peach, sliced
1/2 cup raspberries
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Blend in a blender and add more ice or water to create the consistency you like.
Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
I loved peanut butter banana sandwiches as a kid and this actually reminds me of those carefree days. Great start to the day.
1 frozen banana 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp peanut butter 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds ice
Blend in a blender and add more ice or water to create the consistency you desire.
When it comes to juicing vs smoothie it really is quite a personal decision.
Both are healthy but both have some features that can be problematic.
When juicing you are removing the water and nutrients from fruit and vegetables creating a highly concentrated source of nutrients.
This can be beneficial in certain situations such as your diet doesn’t offer adequate nutrition, or you are ill and unable to eat a variety of foods.
Keep in mind that juice made from fruit and some veggies (beets and carrots) is very high in sugar.
Another thing to consider is the fact that juice is not filling so you will want food, limit your juice with food to 4 – 6 ounces.
Without the fibre, this can create high blood glucose spikes which can be dangerous for diabetics.
Smoothies blend the intact fruit or veggie meaning you will also consume the necessary fibre.
This can slow digestion preventing that blood glucose spike.
Smoothies are much more filling than juice because of the fibre content.
This means smoothies should be used as a meal replacement rather than a drink with a meal.