Juicing Vs Blending – The Sugar Factor

with 2 comments

Are you more a fan of juicing or blending? Both fresh fruit and vegetable juices and blended drinks or “smoothies” can provide an ample boost of nutrition. But how do you know when to choose one over the other? Neither juicing nor blending’s inherently better, but each one has unique benefits to offer. Here’s some tips that may help in figuring out which one to choose for what purpose.

Hint: The key word is sugar.

Juicing is a process that separates the liquid constituents of fruits and veggies from the fibrous parts. Juices are mostly water, so they’re very hydrating and extremely efficient at delivering a hefty dose of nutrients and antioxidants from fruits and veggies.

For example: Can you imagine sitting down and eating a large bunch of raw kale? That’s a lot of chewing, and it would probably take a long time. The juice of a large bunch of kale is much easier (and faster) to consume, and delivers much of the benefits. For this reason, kale and other leafy greens make excellent suspects for juicing.

Since juicing removes so much of the insoluble fiber of the produce in question, it makes life easy when it comes to kale. However, it’s very important to pay attention to situations where your juicing subjects are of the sweet variety. Insoluble fiber slows down the body’s ability to uptake sugar, which in turn prevents blood sugar spikes. When you remove the insoluble fiber by juicing fruit that’s high in sugar, the resultant juice can give you a sugar rush, similar to the way sweet soft drinks can. While it’s not an issue with the kale example (kale is very low in sugar), oranges are another story.

Now, can you imagine eating 4 or more oranges in one sitting? It takes about 4 medium oranges to produce 1 cup (8 oz) of juice. Again, it’s probably far more likely that one will drink the juice of this many oranges as opposed to eating them one after another. And while it’s still true that (like in the case of kale) you will get much of the health benefits and nutrients of 4 oranges in a quick gulp, unfortunately you are also getting a large dose of instant sugar. Without the fiber of 4 oranges to buffer it’s arrival to your blood stream, that’s about 21 grams of immediate access sugar. For reference, consider that the same amount (8oz) of Coca-Cola has 27 grams of sugar (and zero grams of fiber, of course).

Blending, on the other hand, is a process that incorporates and homogenizes all the constituents of your fruit and veggies. So the key difference when compared to juicing is that insoluble fiber stays in. For this reason the texture of blended drinks will naturally be thicker. Blending’s a great way to make fruit and veggie drinks, and also provides the option to add fats (like nut butters or avocado), and protein (like hemp, soy, or whey).

Additionally, since blending doesn’t remove the sugar buffering qualities of insoluble fiber, it may be a better method than juicing if the desired fruit or vegetable is high in sugar. For example, the juice of beets, carrots, oranges, cherries, pineapple, apples, etc. can be very sweet, so it might be preferable to blend them instead to help guard against undesirable blood sugar spikes.

So when choosing between a juice or a blended drink, here’s the quick list of  things to consider:

  • Juice = hydrating, great for greens and low-sugar produce, not as good for sweet stuff.
  • Blended = thicker, can add protein or fat, fiber helps slow down sugars.

With either choice, don’t forget to cheers to your health!

(image: Mi 9)

Written by jmalsky

January 18, 2012 at 11:38 am

2 Responses

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  1. This may not be the best method, but I am a stay-at-home mom and I drink a smoothie every day for lunch because it’s easy. I always juice my liquids as opposed to adding processed beverages and freeze my own leafy greens. Today, for example, I juiced carrots and beets, then put it in the blender with frozen spinach, collard greens, and kale. I was aware of the sugar factor so I assumed the greens would provide the fiber for the high-sugar juice I made. I also almost always add a raw protein powder made by Garden of Life because I need the extra protein for breastfeeding.

    My kids (14 months and 33 months) LOVE the smoothies I make, so it’s a great way to get their tastebuds accustomed to healthy, leafy green.


    January 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

  2. Beautiful – and great post! We try to mix it up.

    ~ Tiffany

    Transfer of Health
    Healthy Living and Recipes

    Tiffany Youngren

    January 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm

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