Juices and Smoothies: Healthy or Hype?

Food

by Melinda D. Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDE 

Confused by all the hype and conversation happening about juicing and smoothies?  They are all the rage… everyone is posting their photos of celery juice on Instagram and smoothies are sold in every shopping mall and fitness center.  So what’s the difference between juices and smoothies and even more importantly… are they really healthy?

Juicing is a process which extracts the water and nutrients from fruits and vegetables.  The pulp or fibers are left behind.   The juice that is left is mostly pure carbohydrates plus some nutrients. People with diabetes generally avoid juice as it can be too much quickly-absorbed carb.  It’s true that there are many powerful nutrients in fruits and vegetables called phytochemicals, but the research is not clear regarding how much of these we need and what exactly they do for you.

Tips:

Put the focus on eating whole fruits and veggies (to get the benefit of the fiber) rather than the juice.

Check the nutrition facts panel on the juices you buy. Some even have added sugars and carbs.

If you’re counting carbs, veggie juices (celery, tomato) have less carbs than fruit juices.

There are no proven benefits behind a juice detox.

Smoothies are made in a high-power blender (like a NutriBullet or Vitamix).  Blending uses the entire edible part of the fruit or vegetable.   Blended smoothies contain more fiber and thus are generally more filling.  By adding ingredients that contain protein (such as yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, nuts) and a source of healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds) – you can make a smoothie that’s a more balanced meal.  But be careful, many smoothies can be packed with calories and carbs!

Tips:

Smoothies can be a healthy replacement for a meal – but it all depends on what goes in them.

If you’re tracking carbs, know that unsweetened almond milk has less carb (2 g) than dairy milk (12 g) per cup.

Some new blenders sync with an app that calculate nutrition information for you (such as the NutriBullet Balance)

Two super-healthy smoothie recipes!

Fruit and Almond Smoothie

Makes: 2 servings  Calories: 100 Carbs: 15 grams Protein: 5 grams  Fat: 2.5 grams Fiber: 2 grams

1 cup frozen strawberries and peaches
1 container (3.5 oz) berry Greek yogurt
1 cup almond milk

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender.

Green Smoothie

Makes: 2 servings  Calories: 112 Carbs: 7 (5 grams fiber) Protein: 3 grams  Fat: 9 grams

1 1/4 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 ice cubes
2 cups of spinach
1/2 of an avocado
1 Tbsp roasted flax seed
4-5 drops of vanilla stevia (if desired for flavor)

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender.

 

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