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January 23, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 7 Faves: 3

Green Smoothie vs. Green Juice: Choosing What's Right for You

By Christina Pasternak More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the FOOD-A-MINS Blog Series

Green drinks in the form of fresh juices and smoothies are amazingly alkalinizing and nutrient dense, with each serving containing more leafy greens than the average person eats in a week. For every green plant food you consume, you are giving your body the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, chlorophyll, and oxygen it needs to not only live, but to live well. Your body will love you, and it’ll show you by literally glowing from the inside out. Every morning when I wake up, I look in the mirror and my face tells me whether  or not I’ve been giving my body what it needs. If I don’t have the glow of gratitude that my body achieves when I’m eating right, I know I need some TLC. That's Tender plant foods, Loving phytonutrients, and Caring chlorophyll, one green drink at a time.

Next Stop: Mastication Station

Blended and juiced greens are uniquely beneficial for one very specific reason: Every cell of every leafy green you put in your juice or smoothie has been ruptured. By doing this, your body is able to absorb the nutrients much more thoroughly than if you were to chew them. In fact, if you were to instead eat all the greens and fruit you put in your green drinks you would have to spend several hours a day just gnawing on your food!

Have you ever driven by a pasture of cows and not seen at least one of those beautiful beasts leisurely chompin’ their breakfast? Every day’s a Sunday brunch for them. Their life’s mission is to masticate the hell out of some food! And look how big and strong they are - all from the properly digested nutrients of a plant-based diet.

Unlike cows, what humans don’t seem to understand is the importance of chewing. The moment we put a piece of food in our mouth, the digestive process begins. Most people hardly chew their food - I know I don’t. I’m a serious Hoover. It’s a problem. In order for our body to properly assimilate the nutrients of leafy greens, we must chew them into a creamy paste before swallowing. Ew. When we don’t chew our greens, though, we leave it up to our stomach acid to do all the work, and it’s usually nowhere near strong enough to digest the cellulose. This means the nutritional value of the green plant foods we eat is rarely utilized to its fullest potential... What a bummer.

Juicing

When we juice, we are extracting the water and nutrients from our greens and fruit, while discarding all the fiber. The benefit of removing the fiber from green drinks is allowing for a greater concentration of easily absorbed nutrients that your body can immediately guzzle up and thank you for! Without all the fiber, your digestive system doesn’t need to work as hard to break down the leafy greens and fruits in your juice. It’s like an injection of nutrients right into your bloodstream, supplying you with nutrients and stimulating your body to clear its toxins and wastes. This allows your cells, tissues, and organs to breathe, restore, and rejuvenate. When you drink green juice, you will experience instantaneous nutrition and higher energy levels. With juicing, you can also experience a deeper level of cleansing and detoxifying qualities.

Things to Consider

  • Too much too fast: If you’ve been (not) living on junk food ever since you can remember, trading in your morning McGriddle for green juice can be a painful transition - literally. Because juice is such a fast-acting detoxifier, you may do just that - detox too fast. The more toxin buildup you have due to eating the SAD way, the more you’re going to eliminate. Detox symptoms can range from a lingering headache to full-blown skin eruptions, nausea, and crazy mood swings. Natural healers don’t compare juice fasts to exorcisms for nothing, demon child! If you experience any uncomfortable detox symptoms, though, know it’s not your forever, and chill out on the green juice as necessary.
  • More costly: Juicers tend to be more expensive than blenders, and it takes about twice the amount of produce to make a juice of the same size as a smoothie. When my boyfriend and I did our first juice cleanse (now that’s true love), we completely underestimated the amount of produce we would need. We were truly stunned. Four trips to the farmer’s market, 300 bucks, and nine days later, we decided to break our fast one day early. So close to our ten day goal!
  • Fractured food: Some food experts point out that green juice is missing an essential nutrient - fiber - and is, therefore, an incomplete food. Fiber is essential to proper digestion, which attributes to long-term nutrient assimilation. If you’re only drinking green juice, you must incorporate fiber-containing foods for a completely balanced diet.
  • Expiration: Green juice should be consumed immediately to ensure none of the nutrients are lost, as they begin to dissipate within minutes. If stored, you should drink your juice within 8-12 hours.   

Blending 

Blending is a technique that liquefies whole greens and fruits, creating a thicker and more filling drink. Blended green smoothies are a complete food because they contain fiber. Therefore, they have everything we need to sustain life. If we drank only green juice, we would not be able to survive for an extended period of time without that one vital nutrient. Fiber is your digestive system’s scrub brush. It gets into all the nooks and crannies of your intestinal tract and buffs out any toxins. When you’re clear of toxic, acidifying waste, your body can absorb more nutrients from all the healthy food you’re eating. And, because of all the naturally-occurring fiber in green smoothies, they can replace a meal, such as breakfast, and you’ll feel fuller longer. Another bonus is the storage factor of smoothies that juice can’t offer. Green smoothies can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours in airtight glass containers with very little nutrient loss. 

My Winner

Though green juice and green smoothies are both staples in my diet, if I had to choose one, I’m a smoothie lover for life. Maybe it’s because they played such an integral part of my healing journey. Or perhaps it’s because they helped me muster up the courage to finally try seaweed (a true superfood). Either way, I’m glad green drinks are in my life, and I’ll never have it any other way.

When choosing how to incorporate green drinks into your life, remember the importance of using a wide variety of leafy greens and fruits to experience the full spectrum of these incredibly nourishing plant foods.

Sources:

Haas, E.M. (2006). Staying healthy with nutrition: The complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine. New York: Random House, Inc.

http://greenforlife.com/ode.htm

http://drcynthia.com/green-juices-vs-blending-green-smoothies/

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7 Comments

  • Christina, I'm loving your blogs. I'm saving this one for sure! I have a juicer, but my blender smells suspiciously like an electrical fire every time I use it (...yeah). I think it's time I invested in a real blender!

  • Yay! So glad you like them, Laura. You really can't go wrong either way, as long as your diet is becoming greener. I love blending -- quick, easy, and filling. Plus the clean up is super easy!

  • Here's a question for ya: when I do use my juicer, is there anything I can do with all the leftover pulp and fiber, or is that a total loss?

  • Laura, I recommend the new, chic, smaller blenders that come with multiple cups you can blend with and then pop a rim onto for instant drinkability.

    Also the pulp has been on my mind too. I've found that the pulp from carrots tends to have a texture not unlike pulled pork, so maybe there's a vegetarian/vegan alternative recipe somewhere in there. I've also heard fruit pulp is great for homemade fruit leather, so it's on my list to try too!

  • Ooh, fruit leather! That's a great idea...I'll definitely look into that. Thanks, Dave!

  • Great blog! My special ladyfriend has me drinking smoothies on my way to work, and I think I've noticed a pretty significant increase in my energy throughout the day.

    One problem though: I get heartburn something fierce for about 30 minutes after I finish my drink. Granted, a glass of water can stir up my reflux, but I'm wondering if I should adjust my ingredients. Here's what I'm usually gulpin' on:

    Spinach, blueberries, strawberries, half of a banana, lemon juice, avocado, and a little slice of aloe leaf.

    I'm lovin' the smoothies, and a little heartburn isn't going to prevent me from drinking them for breakfast, but the heartburn is getting a little annoying. Any suggestions (other than Prilosec)?

  • Hi Kyle,

    Hmm...that's a great question. I know that people occasionally get heart burn when they eat bananas, so you may want to try eliminating that and see how you feel. Another thing to consider is omitting the avocado. Some people do not do well when they mix fruit with fat. Overall, when we change our diet and begin the detoxification/healing process, we can experience some not-so-fun side effects at first. Experiment with different combinations of produce and listen to your body. Let me know how it works out!

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