Juices, smoothies… what’s the difference anyway?

What’s the difference between a smoothie and a juice? A blender and a juicer? With so much varying information, and so many marketing campaigns, sometimes it can become confusing. In reality, though, it’s quite simple. So let’s get down to liquid. I mean business.

Smoothies are liquefied food. Think of a blender as someone, who at the push of a button, will (politely) chew your food for you. Imagine putting one mango in the blender. Press that button, and let it chew for about thirty-seconds. The result? A beautifully pureed, delicate cup of liquefied mango. Yum. See, one of the virtues of blending is that it’s a perfect 1:1 ratio. Whatever you put in, you get out. The volume of food never changes, only the form. Smoothies are therefore an excellent way to get your fruits and vegetables in a convenient manner. Get creative with your drinks. But not too creative! Keep your notions of good food combinations in check. Simply having a machine that mixes and liquefies everything, doesn’t mean everything is meant to go together. Even though ingesting it is easier, your digestive system must still go to work to digest the fiber and assimilate the nutrients available. You wouldn’t eat avocado, spinach, raspberry, mango, pumpkin seeds and nuts together, would you? If not, then you probably shouldn’t drink them. (If you have questions about proper food combinations, refer to Food Combining & Digestion, by Steve Meyerowitz.)

Juices are the liquid water content from fruits and vegetables. Juicing separates the pulp (fiber) from the water content, to produce a light, super-concentrated extraction. To produce a cup of juice it takes significantly more solid food than you might expect. You must feed one-pound of carrots through the juicer to yield an eight-ounce cup of juice. The mighty gear(s) of the juicer slowly work to squeeze every last ounce of water-content from the carrot before leaving a pile of perfectly dry pulp. You can easily drink that cup, and reap the incredible benefits of the juice. What are those?

  • Digestive ease: I keep referring to the “water-content” that’s extracted from the foods. Just like water, when you drink pure juice, no digestion is necessary. Vitamins and nutrients are instantly assimilated and travel straight into your bloodstream. Your digestion system can take some time off, because you’re getting the nutrients you need without exerting the energy required to run that intricate tract of yours. Less work, more nutrients. Good situation!
  • Ultra-concentration of nutrients: Let’s refer to the carrot again. I enjoy carrots, but not so many. I might eat one, or two, but that’s the most I’ll eat at a time. 5-6 medium sized carrots make up one-pound. (I’d never eat that many in one sitting!) To produce an eight-ounce cup of juice, you need one pound. You juice those carrots and yield a cup of flavor and nutrient-rich juice. Now you can drink it easily! After all, it’s as light as water. You’re getting the nutrients from one pound of carrots, but so easily ingestible in an eight-ounce cup. And, those nutrients are instantly assimilated.
  • Flavor: Imagine creating a meal comprised of spinach, parsley, sprouts, tomatoes, lemon, celery, green pepper, cucumber, and garlic. That would be a lot of food, and a magnificent array of colors––just imagine. But you wouldn’t be getting much of each food, because even the biggest eaters among us can only consume so much. So to make a dish encompassing all these foods would mean small quantities of each. When you juice all this, however, you can turn those pounds of vital vegetables into an easily-drinkable sixteen-ounce cup of juice. You can now indulge in a brilliant kaleidoscope of flavors, and easily assimilate the enzymes, water soluble vitamins, minerals, and trace elements that have been condensed into your cup of juice.

Now, back to the original question: juicers or blenders, which is better? There’s really no simple answer here. Neither is the panacea to liquid health. Blenders are wonderful when it comes to making a liquid meal. Thanks to all the fiber, smoothies can make you feel full. Juicing, from a therapeutic standpoint, is the clear winner. This is because you get the ultra-concentrations of nutrient-dense food. Sometimes it’s easier for beginners to drink smoothies; the texture is a little bit more “familiar.” But when you drink your first high-quality juice, you’ll be amazed at the vibrancy of the flavor, and how it makes you feel. Either way, both smoothies and juices are so good for you. Grab your juicer, grab your blender, or head down to your nearest juice bar and indulge. You’ll love it and your body will thank you later.