Juice and smoothie bars are popping up all over the city faster than you can shout, “acai bowl!” They’re both delicious and equally colorful enough for your next Instagram post, but is one better for you from a hydration and nutrition perspective?
Let’s break it down.
The Nutrition Breakdown
The more fruits and veggies you consume, the better! For example, you’re a third less likely to experience a stroke if you hit your 5-a-day veggie and fruit goals.
This is where smoothies and juices can help. They can cram a lot of produce into a cup, helping you to hit your diet goals without struggling through a big salad.
But once you take a closer look, subtle differences arise.
Juicing Pros and Cons
When you juice your fruit or vegetables, equipment presses a concentrated liquid out of the produce while leaving behind the pulp. You get all the nutrients from the plant, along with the associated health benefits.
The result is pure liquid that’s very rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s ideal for quick hydration, because there’s no fiber to be digested.
And if you’re trying to stay hydrated before or during a race or similar physical activity, this no-fiber aspect is a big bonus (too much fiber can cause an upset stomach while you work out).
But without fiber, your blood sugar is more likely to spike. If your juice contains a lot of fruit, the result can be a sugar high and a subsequent sugar crash, with all the weight gain drawbacks of having too much sugar in your diet.
Smoothie Pros and Cons
When you blend produce for a smoothie, the entire piece of vegetable or fruit is used. In juicing, for example, that kale leaf gets shrunk down to just a few tablespoons of green juice. But in a smoothie, everything goes into it: Fiber and all!
The result means you retain more of the fiber and similar physical nutrients. This makes smoothies better if you’re looking for more of a meal, as the extra mass and fiber will keep you feeling full longer.
All that extra fiber can also work wonders for your digestive health, improving your metabolism and keeping everything moving through your digestive tract.
Smoothies also give you a little more flexibility, letting you add extra ingredients like peanut butter, nuts and other healthy add-ins.
The Final Verdict
Juicing wins if you want a quick sip of nutrient-rich hydration, or if you want to add a splash of flavor and color to the water in your water bottle.
Smoothies win if you’re looking for a more complex, whole foods, and gives you the entire spectrum of nutrition that comes from eating the specific fruit or vegetable.