Juicing and smoothies?

Author: 

Micaela Karlsen, MSPH

Question: 

Do you recommend juicing, or is the high concentration of “too much of a good thing” in one serving (and without the fiber) counter-productive?

I am not a veggie-person, and prefer the taste of veggies when blended with fruits; such as in a VitaMix blender.  Does the acidity of the fruits offset the benefits of the alkaline-izing effects of the vegetables if I choose this approach instead of juicing?

Would you recommend doing both – juicing and blending?

Answer: 

Many people do choose to consume smoothies and/or fruit and vegetables juices when eating a plant-based diet. This website does not offer specific advice about what you should or should not eat, but we can highlight some of the things you may want to consider when making those decisions.

Many people really enjoy the taste of smoothies - fruit is sweet after all, and drinking a smoothie is certainly a healthier choice than drinking a milkshake, eating chips or candy, or many other things that people often snack on. Adding greens to smoothies has become very popular as a way to incorporate more greens into the diet, and this may be helpful to some people who dislike greens served in other ways. If eating smoothies is a pleasurable element in the diet, it may be a good strategy to implement as a way to help stick with a whole food, plant-based diet in general.

However, juices, which have no fiber, and smoothies, which have had their fiber pulverized by the blender, do not have the same effect on satiety that unprocessed food has. Juices and even smoothies may encourage people to overconsume calories because they do not feel as full after drinking them as they would after eating the same amount of calories in the form of unaltered fruits and vegetables.

The category on this website Satiety - Whole Food vs. Processed Food contains some of the studies relevant to this issue.

So for people who are having trouble losing weight, smoothies and certainly juices may be adding to the difficulty in weight loss. Additionally, people sometimes add calorie-dense things into their smoothies for taste, like syrup, nuts, or lots of dates, which can really increase the caloric content substantially.

At the same time, for someone without weight or blood triglyceride issues, simple smoothies may be an enjoyable way to consume fruits and vegetables, just like whole grain pasta, low-fat, low-salt crackers, tofu, tempeh, and other minimally processed foods that healthy people are able to tolerate.

On the whole, the ph of specific fruits or vegetables does not have a significant effect on health - rather, is it more that an overall acidic ph is correlated with an animal-food based diet, while an akaline ph is correlated with a whole food, plant-based diet. The health effects of animal vs. plant foods are not largely determined by ph. Ph may have an effect, but the macronutrient and micronutrient content is much more important - meaning how much fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals are present in the food.