We all know how important it is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day, but it's a lot easier said than done. After all, if the recommended daily intake is five to twelve servings, we're going to have to figure out some creative ways to consume that many fruits and veggies in one day.
Making juices or smoothies out of your fruits and vegetables is an efficient way to boost your daily intake of the good stuff without feeling like you have to eat something nearly non-stop. But there's been quite a debate regarding whether using a juicer or a blender is the best way to go. Many claim that juicing is the hands-down winner, but is that really true?
Juicing vs. Blending: Is There Really a Difference?
On the surface, it may not seem like juicing and blending are all that different, but actually there are quite a few factors that make a significant difference in the end result. To be sure, both appliances transform solid foods into liquid goodness, but the main difference lies in what's left after the whirling and whizzing of the blades is done.
Juicers separate all of the pulp and fiber from your fruits and veggies so that only the pure juice remains. This enables you to pack more fruits or veggies into one cup of juice, and it makes for a very thin and easily digestible drink.
A blender, on the other hand, will process the entire fruit or vegetable, keeping the fiber and pulp intact; this typically makes for a thicker drink (commonly referred to as a smoothie), and it takes a little longer to digest. With a smoothie, your drink will still be packed with nutrients, but they're released at a slower rate in your system. This actually helps you feel satiated for longer.
The Important Advantage of Blending
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, blending appears to have a slight edge due to the way the food is processed. In the 2012 study, scientists at Texas A&M used three different methods--a hand-squeezer, a juicer, and a blender--to process a grapefruit, and the results were quite telling. According to the study, the blended juice contained a significantly higher amount of phytonutrients--that is, plant-based nutrients that are highly beneficial to the human body--versus the hand-squeezer and the juicer.
One of the main ingredients that was found in large proportion in the blended juice was an organic compound known as naringin, which is contained in the pulp content of the fruit, and is lauded for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The study also noted that the blended juice contained more of the grapefruit's segment membranes (i.e., those white layers of fiber that separate the segments of the fruit), which contain higher concentrations of phytonutrients as well.
When it comes to retaining the maximum amount of nutrients from your fruits and veggies, blending seems to be the preferred method, if only by a slight margin.
So What's the Bottom Line?
Die-hard juicers will claim that you can cram a lot more nutrients into one serving, which is true, since you can juice a whole lot more fruits and veggies than you can blend in one go-round.
However, blending allows you to maximize the nutritional content of each vegetable and/or piece of fruit that you choose to blend, even if it's a smaller amount per serving. Blending advocates also point out that juicing produces more waste, because the pulp, rinds and fiber are basically discarded after the food is processed.
The bottom line is that both methods have their merits, and it's really up to your personal preference as to which one you choose.