Juice vs smoothie - your questions answered

Libby Limon BSc NT mBANT / Jul 5, 2016

As a nutritionist, people often come to me confused about the difference between a juice and smoothie. The key things they want to know is which is better and how they can be used to support wellbeing. So here’s VITL’s guide to the nutritional differences between the two, the benefits of each, and how to combine them into your diet to get the best health benefits from both.

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So, what’s the difference?

A smoothie is made in the blender with the whole vegetables or fruit. None of the fibre is removed, although some of it will be broken down by the blending process. If you are one of the millions who has recently purchased a Nutribullet, this is you!

A juice is made by extracting the liquid from the fibre or pulp, via a juicer. There are two ways to extract the juice; either it will be cold pressed or it is via a centrifugal machine.

They both can be nutritious additions to your diet, but should be consumed in different ways.

Why does it matter?

We know fiber is good for us. It helps the digestive system, both in terms of motility and feeding our healthy gut flora. Fibre also helps us feel fuller for longer because it makes up bulk that is not digested and absorbed. It also slows the absorption of the nutrients that are digested including sugars from fruits. For this reason, fruit (in moderation) is good in a smoothie and why a smoothie, if done correctly, can be a balanced meal in itself.  

For a meal to be balanced it needs to contain complex carbs, ideally from fruit and/or vegetables, protein, and healthy fats. Adding nuts, seeds, avocado or healthy protein powders, such as hemp, can complete the smoothie as a meal replacement. You can also add superfoods such as maca, matcha, cacao, spirulina, turmeric, ginger or acai powder. These can increase the nutrient density of your smoothie as well as tailoring or boosting it towards your specific goals such as pre- or post workout, energy boost, hormone balance or immunity boost. We love adding VITL Greens superfood blend to our smoothies to do just that, and it gives it a delicious vanilla taste too.

Juices, on the other hand, contain no fibre. So they must not be as good, right?! Wrong…. They also have their benefits. The lack of fibre means that the nutrients that remain in the juice after the pulp is extracted are quickly and easily absorbed into the body. Juice can be a very nutrient rich sources of essential micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, plant polyphenols and antioxidants. The lack of fibre also means that the nutrients from a greater quantity of vegetables can be consumed easily.

A very important point is that only vegetables, not fruit, should be consumed as juice. Fruit juice is too high in sugar and therefore generally outweighs the micronutrients content benefit. Cold-pressed extraction is preferable over centrifugal as the latter is high friction, which creates heat that can damage or diminish some of the precious micronutrients. Cold pressed vegetable juice can be used a ‘health tonic’ to boost your nutrient status. This is particularly useful for glowing skin, improved liver detoxification, better hormone balance and for strengthening the immune system. It should be consumed as an addition to your normal meals and snacks to gain the most nutritional benefit.

Hope that clears up the juice vs smoothie debate. Whichever your preference, they are both a great way boost your 5-a-day intake, so happy juicing and blending!