To juice or not to juice? That is the question. And it has been for quite some time. Juicing seems to be one of those fads that isn’t so fleeting, and especially as the weather warms up (woohoo!!), you may find yourself increasingly curious about those brightly colored, cold, refreshing fruit and veggie juices that some might tell you provide nutrients and health benefits you never even knew you “needed.” Let’s dive in further.
First, the basics. All fruits and vegetables – even though they’re solid and you chew them – are mostly made up of water. It’s one of the many reasons they’re so good for you! Watermelons, strawberries, bell peppers and cauliflower, to name a few, are each a whopping 92 percent water, but even produce you might not think of as “juicy” is water-based. Potatoes, for instance, are 79 percent water.
Juicing is a process through which all of that liquid is extracted, bringing along with it most of the vitamins, minerals and other water-soluble goodies you get from fruits and vegetables and leaving behind all of the solid bits – the pulp. This makes juice different from smoothies, of course, which include all the liquid and solid parts of fruits and veggies, blended up for easy sipping.
What’s great about both juices and smoothies?
- They both provide the vitamins and minerals present in their fruit and veggie ingredients’ liquid portions.
- They can achieve delicious flavors by combining various fruits and vegetables …and offer the opportunity for you to get creative in your combinations.
What Differentiates Smoothies And Juices?
Smoothies are thicker than juices because the solid parts are left in. This obviously impacts your experience in drinking a smoothie vs. a juice, but it also has critical nutritional implications. Without the pulp, juices lose some of the nutrients present in whole fruits and vegetables and, importantly, the fiber that your digestive system loves so dearly.
Most Americans aren’t getting as much fiber as they need – women and men should strive for 25 and 38 grams per day, respectively – so it’s definitely something to keep in mind when making food and beverage choices every day. Fiber has earned its reputation for keeping you regular, but that’s just one of its many health benefits. It also may help prevent heart disease and diabetes, and, because it keeps you feeling fuller longer, it can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Smoothies also offer a bit more flexibility of ingredients and add-ins than juices, purely because there can be solid components – think ground flax seeds, chia seeds, protein powder, peanut butter, etc. They thereby allow you to exercise your culinary creativity, but also, this allows you to craft your smoothie specially to meet a wider array of nutritional needs.
For example, are you looking for the perfect post-workout snack? The vitamins and minerals you’d get from the fruits and veggies in either a smoothie or a juice are important, but a yogurt-based smoothie or one blended up with some nut butter or a scoop of protein powder will really help you glean all the benefits from the muscle work you just valiantly accomplished.
Both Have Their Benefits
So, smoothies offer some perks that juices don’t. But we’re not saying smoothies are “better” than juices – we just to make you aware of the differences, so that you can choose what’s right for you. A reasonable amount of fruit and/or veggie juice per day can be great for someone who doesn’t typically eat a lot of fruits and/or veggies. A delicious fresh juice can also be just the refreshing treat you crave on a hot summer day – one that also comes with a hit of vitamins and minerals. No complaints from your dietitian there!
Just know what you’re looking at when you’re drawn in by that alluring cold-pressed juice rack at your favorite natural foods store or the new juice bar on the block. You also may find yourself temped by the latest juice cleanse advertising its ability to cure all your health woes.
What's Not Necessary
If you’re wondering if you should buck up and spend the extra cash for those sometimes-pretty-darn-pricy juices, or even the “health shots” (liquid infusions of buzz-worthy ingredients like turmeric or cayenne), be comforted by the fact that you do not need massive amounts of any one vitamin, mineral, herb or spice, as they may hint you do. In fact, you can have too much of certain nutrients, if you go overboard. (Yes, you can have too much of a good thing!)
Moreover, you should sleep soundly knowing that your body does not need periodic dietary “cleanses.” You have a couple of remarkable internal organs whose sole purpose is to weed out unhealthy substances that might be floating around in your body, naturally keeping you balanced and constantly “cleansed.”
Now, back to our original query. To juice or not to juice? That is the question – one you’re hopefully now a little more informed about and can feel empowered to answer for yourself.
Love juice? Go for it! But make sure you also include whole fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, so you can get all of their unique benefits too.
Don’t love juice? That’s fine. A whole-food diet is totally equipped to get you all the nutrients your body needs.
Kristen Wilk, MS, RDN
Hi! My name is Kristen, and I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist. I’m a contributor to Womensforum, and I also work for Pre Brands. In this and former roles, I’ve worked with a variety of food and beverage companies. Thoughts and opinions presented here are my own.