Juices vs. Smoothies. Which one is healthier?

With warm weather upon us – at least here in the Northern hemisphere – many of us are taking to cold and refreshing drinks, and lighter foods. Things like raw veggies and fruit are not only more enjoyable this time of year, they’re also more abundant and locally sourced because the conditions are just right for them to grow.

Juicing or blending your wholesome fruits and veggies is a delicious way to get your vitamins and minerals while staying cool. So whether they’re for breakfast, a mid-day snack, or even dinner (hey, we’re adults, we can do that!), juices and smoothies make perfectly light meals. But which is healthier?

To answer that, let’s take a look at some pros and cons for both.

Fresh juice

Pros:

  • Easy on digestion due to lack of fiber, great for times of healing or cleansing
  • More conducive to fruit/vegetable balance since “hard” veggies can be juiced
  • Can be made in advance and stay fresh and “alive” in the fridge longer
  • Fast absorption, leading to replenishing vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes quickly after workouts

Cons:

  • Lack of fiber can spike blood sugar if you’re using lots of fruit or are sensitive
  • Lack of fiber will also leave you less satisfied, increasing chances of unhealthy cravings
  • Juices have very little to no protein or fat, making them incomplete if consuming as a “meal”

Smoothies

Pros:

All the pulp remains, which contains fiber that is good for digestive health
Dried superfoods are blended easier than juiced, so there’s potential for higher nutritional intake if you’re adding powdered extras
Slow absorption and increased likelihood of fat and protein makes smoothies more satisfying, with slower release of insulin to balance the rise in blood sugar

Cons:

  • Has to be consumed quickly for optimal nutrient intake, flavor, and texture
  • Usually made with more fruit than vegetables, so it could contain excess sugar
  • Too much density of ingredients can leave you feeling too full and lethargic, instead of energized

So where does that leave us?

Juices and smoothies can both be healthy or unhealthy depending on how they’re consumed and the quality of ingredients being used.

As with most things, think about balance and unique circumstances. Juices make a great pre- or post-workout drink when you want something light, but smoothies make a better hearty breakfast if you won’t eat anything else until lunch. In both cases, using wholesome ingredients without added sugar or synthetic fillers is the way to go.

I like to bring it back to a concept I learned at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition called
bio-individuality, which states that we are all different and have diverse nutritional needs. What feels nourishing and provides ample energy to one person might be draining and unsatisfying to another. It’s all about choosing what’s right for you!

Additional things to consider in the great juice/smoothie debate:

  • Depending on the quality of your juicer or blender, the blades could damage some of the precious nutrients, so do your research before buying these kitchen appliances
  • Juicers tend to be harder to clean than blenders, so if time is a big factor for you then smoothies might be better
  • Smoothies usually have something frozen in them, so they’re colder and more refreshing on hot days
  • Some say it just feels wrong to waste all that pulp after juicing, and we agree! But you can get creative and bake into desserts, or dehydrate into crackers, and if that doesn’t work out then you can compost it.

If you’re planning to do a cleanse with juices or smoothies, just be cautious and monitor how you feel, or learn more about wellness before experimenting. Check out one of my favorite green smoothie recipes HERE. This is a perfect way to use up that extra produce from your CSA share or weekly farmers market haul! 

Are you with team juice or camp smoothie? Tell me your preference in the comments below!