I have to agree the difference between the two is not always so apparent for everyone, nor was it for me at first. Now that I have been blending for quite some time and have been becoming more and more intrigued by juicing lately, I could not even describe the difference(s) in one sentence. Though juicing and blending do share some health benefits, they each come with their own unique health properties and, of course, also their own disadvantages. Here’s my take on a comprehensive guide to help you choose: to juice or to blend?
Blending is a technique that creates a beverage out of a number of ingredients- this can be as little as 2 or 3, but can also be upwards of 10. Blending liquifies and emulsifies the ingredients you throw in the blender, creating a relatively thick, homogenous and voluminous beverage. While technically you could throw anything in there, the more ingredients you add the more important it is to keep an eye on complementary flavors and textures, or you’ll end up with a weird tasting, looking and texturized drink. With blending you should cut fruits and vegetables in smaller pieces, remove skins and pits and be careful as to not overload it. High speed blenders like Vitamix and Blendtec are hardly sensitive for such ailments and even an avocado pit won’t ruin your blender. The smoothies made with a blender can be made more nutritious by adding ingredients such as soy yogurt, flax seeds, avocado, coconut oil, protein powder, etc. Smoothies leave no waste and can be stored up to about 3 days while keeping the vitamins and minerals intact.
Juicing is the extracting of juice from fruits and vegetables. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients end up in the juice, while the bulk (pulp) and all of the fiber is removed and discarded. This makes for a very liquid and smooth drink. By seperating the pulp from the juice, it is also a very concentrated beverage; quite a lot of produce goes into one glass. This can of course be an advantage as well as a disadvantage; this level of concentration makes it easy to consume a large quantity of fruit en vegetable, but we all know fresh produce is not cheap. People juice because all of the nutrients get assimilated into the bloodstream straight away, your body gets to use it all without having to digest food first. Juice is also a very clean drink, containing only juice from freshly juiced produce.
Juicing vs Blending
Very fast preparation
But takes some extra clean-up time
Highly concentrated; meaning consuming a large quantity of fruit&veg in one sitting
This level of concentration asks for lots of fresh produce, which can be expensive
No fiber & pulp; fast assimilation of nutrients & energy in to the blood, fast to drink
No fiber & pulp; direct absorption of concentrated fruit sugars in to the blood
Higher bio-availability of nutrients
A great way of using up leftover fruit & veg
Endless variations, easy to make delicious combinations
Provides little to no satiety; easy way to bulk up on fruit & veg
Provides no satiety
Has to be consumed pretty much straight away (to prevent oxidation of nutrients)
Some of the juicing ‘disadvantages’ don’t need to be disadvantages at all! Take for example the fast absorption of fruit sugars into the blood stream. If you don’t like the idea of this, you can easily add a little substance to your juice- for example some coconut oil or flax seeds- or simply drink your juice with a meal. Sure, this’ll deminish one of the fabulous traits of juicing – higher bio-availability of nutrients- but you still have the benefit of adding a monstreous amount of fruit&veg to your daily diet- in one tasty drink! Another possibility is to keep the fruit to veg ratio lower.
Also, I don’t think having to drink it straight away should be a problem, unless you’d like to drink juice all day long. As far as not providing satiety, or at least very little, I think it’s perfectly fine juice doesn’t do this. I see it as an addition to my healthy diet and I don’t need it to replace anything. Plus, because it is not filling it is, again, easier to add a large quanity of fruit&veg almost unnoticable to your day. I am also suspecting juice would be great pre-run fuel (for shorter runs) and could serve as a wholesome, homemade energy-drink (for longer runs). Disadvantage turned advantage right there. I’ll definitely experiment with this.
Lastly, the cleaning is really not that much of a hassle. A quick rinse & sweep with the dish brush will suffice, and then I let it dry on the counter and am done with it. You’ll only use it once a day anyway. I think the clean-up takes me 3-5 minutes.
Easy & fast clean up
Collecting ingredients & prepping produce costs time
Blending creates voluminous drinks and inexpensive ingredients can be added
Lower concentration of fruit & veg
A smoothie contains the whole fruit, including healthy fiber; slower absoprtion of sugars
Slower absorption of nutrients, takes longer to drink
Can provide lots of saitiety, can even be turned into full meals
Not a very easy way to ‘bulk up’ on fruit & veg
Lower bio-availability of nutrients than juice, but higher than whole foods
Endless variations but more difficult to create a very tasty combo
Can be stored up until 3 days in the fridge without losing nutrients (covered)
Obviously, the ‘disadvantages’ of blending smoothies are also only relative. No, not every random combo you’ll throw in your blender will win some culinary price, but you’ll find tons of tasty combo’s garuanteed. Yes, juicing may be easier to ‘bulk up’ on fruit and veg but still, liquifying your fruit & veg to some degree will still make it easier to consume a larger quantity. Also, the added flavors and fun ingredients will even get the very fruit/veg aversed slurping!
Juicing & Blending vs Whole Foods
Both juicing and blending have some advantages and disadvantages when compared to eating whole fruits and vegetables. The biggest advantage is that blended fruit & veg, but especially juiced fruit & veg, is assimilated much better and faster by the body. Most people do not chew their food nearly enough for the body to be able to efficiently use all the nutrients, this is refered to as bio-availability. Another huge advantage over drinking your fruit & veg instead of eating it, is ease. Let’s be honest, it can be quite a task to eat the recommended intake, or even more, and juicing and blending makes it so much easier.
The biggest disadvantage is for juicing. Because it contains no fiber, juice is not filling, whereas smoothies but especially whole foods are (although some people do claim they have found juice somewhat filling). Also, whole fruits and veggies do a better job of taking place in the diet where otherwise less healthy products would have been (or at least have that possibility).
To Juice or to Blend?
If it wasn’t clear already: there is no winner (nor loser). It all boils down to your preference and your needs. For me, now, juicing is more beneficial. I enjoy actual meals and snacks a bit too much to replace them with smoothies. And I like my smoothies thick, creamy and filling, not just a water + fruit/veg combo, which in the end led me to hardly consuming any ‘bonus’ fruit & veg (I call it bonus because I usually consume fruit & veg in liquid form next to my normal intake). Also, my diet is sufficiently healthy, most days, and there is no desire from me to replace some junk with healthy, filling smoothies. However, I bet come summer I’ll be blending tons again ;).
I think if you’d had to choose between either buying a blender or juicer, a blender would be a better/more practical choice to start with. Smoothies are fun to make and let’s not forget: a blender can do more than just blend smoothies! What about chopping, making sauces and dips, or even making nut butters (high speed blenders)? A juicer will bring your already healthy lifestyle to a new level.
If you have a particular hard time getting fruit and vegetables in, either the minimum recommendedamount for health (say, 5 servings/400 grams a day) or the amount you favor (I personally think 400 grams is too little but I have a hard time consuming more veg, both because of taste an because it’s so filling), I’d say juicing is the way to go. It can’t get any easier than drinking your full daily recommended intake boom, before breakfast. While reading the paper, or blogs, or cleaning the house.
This Is Your Wake-Up Call – Juice
* 3 small clementines
* 2 celery ribs
* ½ a head Romaine
* ½ a lemon (or 1/3 for a less sour drink)
* few drops Stevia (or other natural sweetener) – optional
Over 400 grams of fruit/veg in one tasty, energizing drink. The taste is very sour and tart, which is perfect to wake up in the morning. Lemon juice is super alkalining, celery has cancer fighting components en works as a diuretic (against bloating). Not all lettuce is super healthy, but Romaine is loaded with vitamins A, K, C and B11 (folate) while it also contains some amounts of calcium, iron and potassium. Bottoms up!
Please let me know what you thought about this guide!
Do you have anything to add? Any thoughts? Recipes?