Being apart of the raw food world in any capacity means that you have most likely been introduced to the worlds of juicing and blending. Juices and smoothies are gaining popularity quickly. We are seeing juice bars, smoothie trucks and juice and smoothie recipes popping up all over the place!
3 of the most common questions we get about Juices & Smoothies
1. What is the difference between them?
2. Why are they good for me?
3. Why can’t I just eat the food?
I am hoping that this article will help to clear up some of the misinformation and confusion, and to get you in the kitchen juicing and blending up a storm, for your health!
What is the difference between a juice and a smoothie?
What is a Juice?
A juice is the liquid of the plant, with all of the plants fibre removed. Juices in our minds, are healing drinks. We like to refer to them as “vitamin and mineral infusions.” Juicing removes all of the fibre and some of the protein from the plants you are juicing. This means that your body does not have to do any digestive work in order to extract the nutrients from your juice, as they are absorbed directly into your blood stream. You can juice any plant that has juice to extract. Fruits, vegetables and herbs are the most common juice ingredients.
What is a Smoothie?
A smoothie is a drink composed of blended foods. This means that the foods have been broken down into liquid form, whilst still retaining all of their fibre. Because the fibres are just slightly broken down but not removed, your body will still have to do some digestive work in order to fully break down and digest your smoothie, but not as much as it would have to if you just ate the produce. You may find this analogy a little gross, but you can think of your smoothies as being pre-digested for you. Smoothies are a little more versatile in the ingredients that work well within them. You can do greens, other veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, superfoods, protein supplements, herbs, spices, really anything that you can dream up you can add to a smoothie!
What are the different health benefits of Juicing vs. Blending?
Juices are really amazing healing drinks. Juices are particularly good for people who have damaged digestive systems, who have difficulty digesting vegetables, or are ill in any other way. This is due to the fact that removing the fibre releases all of the nutrients from those plants, without your body having to do any work.
Juices are great to have when you want to do a cleanse of your body. This is because your body will not be putting any effort towards digestion, so all that energy can be directed to ridding the body of built up waste and toxins. Juicing allows the body to focus on healing while still providing nutrients to your body that would not be present during a water fast. Juices are also awesome for supporting the healing of a damaged gut, and a plethora of other health issues depending on the ingredients present.
Smoothies are awesome for those who need a quick meal on the go and do not have time to sit down and eat something. They are great for a meal before or after a workout, because smoothies are light enough that they won’t weigh you down but they are substantial enough that you won’t feel hungry again in 15 minutes. You can also pack them full of ingredients that will help with your recovery after a work out.
Smoothies are also great for those who are coming off of a fast of any kind, as it will help to re-introduce your body to solid foods again in a more gradual way than jumping straight into eating would. Smoothies will help to cleanse out your colon, because they contains the fibre that will help to “sweep” out your intestinal tract. These fibres will bind to toxins and usher them out of your system. Smoothies are also amazing for those who want to start introducing more raw foods into their diets, but don’t know how. You can hide a number of less palatable ingredients like dark greens and superfoods under the sweet taste of fruit in a smoothie.
How to make juices & smoothies
How do you juice?
To make juice, you will need a juicer. You can get a Centrifuge juicer, which will have a blade or disk that spins at high speeds, grating your fruits and veggies, and then straining them through a fine sieve in order to extract the juice, or a masticating juicer which uses a slower pressing action to extract your juice. Juicing greens is really awesome because our bodies do not have the enzymes needed to break down the cell walls found in greens. This means that by juicing your greens you will gain access to the nutrients locked inside those cells be removing those fibres. This also applies to other veggies that are often more difficult to digest.
Greens are best juiced through a masticating juicer because the slower extraction process allows for more nutrients to be separated from the fibres in the plant than with a centrifugal juicer.
How Do You Blend?
We recommend that you get a high-speed blender if you are serious about making smoothies a mainstay in your diet. A slower blender (one with less horsepower) will take longer to blend your smoothie and will not break down the fibres as well as a high-speed blender will. This will introduce more oxygen into your smoothie, increasing the oxidation rate, which means you get less nutrition from your smoothie.
Blending with a high-speed blender will ensure that you get the least amount of oxidative damage, and the most pleasing and palatable texture. For the absolute least amount of oxidation, pulse blend your smoothies.
Are there any foods that shouldn’t be juiced or blended?
There are a few plants that do not lend themselves to juicing or blending quite as well as others. Below is a quick list of a few things that are best to avoid when making juice and smoothies.
Foods that are not great for Juice
Too much fruit - It’s best for your body, and your liver in particular, to avoid juicing copious amounts of fruit. Fruit is best processed in our bodies when it comes with all its natural fibres, otherwise the sugars present are released to quickly into your blood stream, and your liver has to work extra hard to filter them. It is best to keep your juice fruit free, or limited to small servings of green apple.
Spinach or Chard every day - Spinach and chard are high in oxalates which can cause kidney stone issues in those people who are susceptible. We recommend that you do spinach and chard only every other day, as opposed to every day, just to be on the safe side. Aside from these two greens, you should be fine to juice greens every day.
Foods that are not great for Smoothies
Starchy, hard to digest veggies - It’s best to avoid putting really starchy veggies like sweet potato or regular potato, as well as very hard to digest root veggies like beets and carrots in your smoothies. These ingredients will just be hard for your body to break down, even in blended form. Stick to the more water rich veggies and leafy greens.
Too many ingredients - It can be very easy to get carried away, wanting to add an abundance of nutrition into your daily smoothies. There are lots of super foods, powders, potions, herbs, fruits, veggies and leafy greens out there, but you do not have to put them all in every smoothie that you make! Keeping your smoothies on the simpler side (2-6 ingredients) will be much better for your digestion. Otherwise it may do more harm than good.
As you can see, both smoothies and juices have their place and purpose in a raw diet, and in a healing plan. Neither is better than the other, but rather they just have different applications and different areas where they shine the most.
Do you prefer Juices or Smoothies? Share your experience below!
Learn more recipes and tips like this in our 3 months course How to Go Raw, Not Crazy! We’re taking a few more student testers, if you’d like more details on how you can get a discount on registration you can email us with the subject line “how to go raw”.