With green juices and ‘superfood’ smoothies all the rage, HFG nutritionist Claire Turnbull shakes up some myths and misconceptions.
Packaged juice sales from supermarkets have been in freefall in recent years, while drink purchases from juice bars and sales of personal hand blenders have rocketed. There’s no denying that juices and smoothies are marketed as healthy, but some supersized drinks are loaded with sugar and pack in more kilojoules than a main meal, making them a recipe for unwanted weight gain! So, can you really drink your way to good health? Let’s peel back the truth.
Juicing is big business, but can you drink your way to better health?
Juices vs smoothies
There are significant differences between juices and smoothies, and each come with pros and cons. Juices are made by squeezing or pressing a combination of fruits and/or vegetables. The extracted liquid is a good source of vitamin C, protective antioxidants and potassium for heart health, plus it’s an easy way to bump up your daily fruit and vegetable serves.
Smoothies are made by blending a combination of fruit, vegies, grains, dairy, nuts and seeds. They have a much thicker consistency, so they’re often filling enough to have for breakfast, and they’re easy to make ahead of time. And with loads of ingredients and flavour combos to choose from, you’ll never get bored.
Juicing lacks a-peel
When you juice you discard the skins of whole fruit and veg — which contain health-giving fibre. Studies show fibre helps restrain the rise in your blood sugar and insulin levels after eating. Research also links regular juice consumption with weight gain and diabetes.
A smoothie can be a great source of nourishment, but if it’s packed with frozen yoghurt, sweet syrups, honey and dates, it can have more kilojoules than an indulgent dessert.
Chewing is also good for you — which of course you can’t do with juices or smoothies. Evidence suggests chewing helps your brain register that you’re eating, which is important when you’re trying to lose weight.
So, which is better for me?
A smoothie served in a healthy portion size (about one cup) is generally a better breakfast or snack than most juices.
Why? The fibre isn’t lost, and a balanced combination of healthy ingredients helps you feel full for longer. One piece of fruit in a smoothie is a good way to go, so you can enjoy eating another piece later in the day. A recent study by US researchers found adding a small handful of walnuts (48g) to your smoothie activates the appetite control region of your brain to quell cravings, so go nuts!
Vegetable juices made with celery, spinach, cucumber and a small amount of fruit, such as one apple, are lighter in kilojoules and sugar than fruit blends.