As products for juicing and making smoothies have come to market, there is some debate over whether juice or smoothies are better for you.
Juice (I'm talking about natural fresh juice, the kind you make at home, not store-bought juice) is made by extracting the juice from fruits and vegetables and discarding the pulp, fiber, skin and seeds.
Smoothies are made by blending fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables with other ingredients (often juice, soy milk, yogurt and the like).
Here's the skinny on which is better for you.
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Juice proponents claim that by extracting the juice and discarding the fiber, you're able to digest the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables more quickly and that they are put to use by your body more quickly.
There are also a lot of claims that juices cleanse the body and remove toxins. This may or may not be true (it's tough to find credible unbiased research on the subject).
Both Juices and Smoothies Contain Sugar
One thing that is true is that both juices and smoothies contain sugar. This comes from the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. But juices will give you a quick burst of energy, whereas smoothies, which contain fiber, are more likely to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, helping you maintain a more stable blood sugar level for a longer period of time.
Drinking too many smoothies or juices - no matter how healthy or natural they are - can increase your consumption of sugar substantially if you go overboard. As with all food, moderation is the key.
Whole juices are basically a combination of the two. Thinner than smoothies, whole juices are made by pureeing whole fruits and vegetables (oftentimes with the skin and seeds, too), but without any added yogurt, milk, nuts, coconut or other smoothie add-ins.
See also: What is Juicing?
Juicing vs. Smoothies - The Bottom Line
So which is better for you?
All three - juices, whole juices and smoothies - are pretty good for you, and I have yet to find any credible studies (those that aren't sponsored by companies selling a juicing product) that show one method of getting micro-nutrients is better than another.
Why I Prefer Smoothies
Personally, I'm a fan of smoothies, because they tend to have a thicker, frosty texture that is more appealing to kids (and me) than juice. I also like the fact that I can give my kids a smoothie for breakfast and feel like they've eaten a meal.
Finally, I like the fact that I can add things to smoothies to make them even more tasty and nutritious. I add everything from oatmeal and nuts to wheat germ, graham crackers and chocolate chips to my smoothies.
This not only makes the smoothies more palatable to kids, it gives me a broader range of flavors to play with. I've created everything from chocolate strawberry smoothies that taste like chocolate covered strawberries to pumpkin smoothies that taste like pumpkin pie. And while some of these smoothie recipes aren't as healthy as spinach juice, I'm not likely to get my kids to drink spinach juice on a daily basis (if ever!).
That's not to say that homemade juices don't have health benefits, too. They do. And if you enjoy juicing, go right ahead.