They take time to make, can use quite a number of ingredients and leave a lot of mess to clean up afterwards. I have alternated between having them daily, then not having one for months, and have decided to revisit the whole topic.
Juices and Smoothies. What are they and why are they healthy for you? Are they really that good for you? And are they worth the effort involved?
Firstly, Juices are a mixture of fruit and vegetables that are put through a machine, a juicer, to extract the juice and leave the fibrous pulp behind. It separates the two. Some juicer models allow you to regulate how much pulp or fibre is left in your glass for you to drink.
A Smoothie is also made up of a mixture of fruit and vegetables but uses a blender, so that all of the fruit and vegetables are mixed together and you consume the whole of the pulp or fibre. Juices can of course, be made in a blender but you will be left with all the pulp and it won’t be separated.
Dietary fibre is the part of plants that your body can’t absorb or digest. Fibre can be soluble or insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and can help lower cholesterol and glucose levels. It also feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fibre promotes the movement of food through your digestive system and increases bulk in stools, so it can be of benefit for those who have problems with constipation. Fibre is also important to help maintain a healthy weight as it helps you to feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Fibre does need to be increased gradually. If large amounts are eaten too quickly, it can cause intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase it slowly over a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.
You may think that the lack of fibre in Juices makes them less advantageous than Smoothies, however this isn’t the case. Juices deliver a lot more nutrients per serve as all of the nutrients in the plant’s juice, ie. the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients fill our bodies in one go. Juices are also very beneficial for those with sensitive guts, where too much fibre can cause problems. Some people also prefer the texture of juices, as smoothies can be a bit lumpy.
Smoothies on the other hand are full of fibre. If you are concerned about your blood sugars, the added fibre helps sugar to be absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream. It also enables you to use foods that a juicer doesn’t tolerate. Nut butters and superfood powders can help increase your energy but can’t be juiced. Instead they need to be blended so you can enjoy their benefits. Smoothies can be filled with lots of nutrient packed ingredients so can replace a meal and they help you to feel fuller for longer.
Both Juices and Smoothies are an amazing way of incorporating really healthy foods such as greens, vegetables and fruits into your diet. Juices give you maximum nutrimental uptake in one hit, while Smoothies allow you to use more ingredients that include fibre, proteins and health fats.
Some further benefits are listed below.
Many fruits and vegetables have cholesterol reducing properties, so including blueberries, avocados, carrots and grapes in your drinks, may help lower cholesterol levels.
Oranges, broccoli, blueberries and spinach are among the top anti-aging fruits and vegetables around, and including them in your juices or smoothies may help fight the signs of ageing. Oranges, blueberries, and broccoli are full of Vitamin C, while broccoli and spinach contain coenzyme Q10, which has been shown to be effective in treating wrinkles.
Fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, and lemons contain very high levels of vitamin C so are beneficial in boosting your immunity.
Most vegetables and fruits are high in potassium and will help maintain a healthy heart. They also help boost your energy. Others such as limes, grapefruits, and oranges contain folate and manganese, which are beneficial for bone strength. Fruits including blackberries, raspberries and cranberries, can decrease inflammation.
Why not incorporate both Juices and Smoothies into your meals? Yes there is some preparation involved and yes, there is some cleaning up afterwards, but the health benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.
Below is are two easy and tasty recipes to get you started.
(Makes two servings)
8 romaine leaves
2 green apples
1-inch piece of ginger
1 lemon, peeled and quartered
Juice and serve.
Brain Booster Smoothie
- 1/2 banana, frozen
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries or mixed berries, frozen
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk or nondairy milk of choice. I use coconut milk.
- 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped or can substitute with 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds.
- 1 cup kale, leaves only, tightly packed or spinach, if preferred.
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1. Wash and prep all ingredients.
2. Blend and serve. If needed, add 1-2 tablespoons water at a time if the consistency is too thick.
Choose your fruits carefully so that you are not consuming too much sugar. Berries, canteloupe and papaya are good choices but go easy on the bananas. Add protein and healthy fats through nut butters and avocado and a few handfuls of spinach, kale or silverbeet with a dash of lime or lemon will reduce any bitterness.
Juices are best drunk fresh but can be kept in the fridge overnight in an airtight container or even for a day depending on the type of juicer used. Smoothies will last a day or two as well, in an airtight container and both juices and smoothies can be frozen for up to 10 days.
References: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/. https://kriscarr.com/blog/difference-between-juicing-vs-blending/. Recipes from www.kriscarr.com. http://justjuice.org/10-amazing-health-benefits-of-smoothies/
Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her research and knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.