We all know how healthy eating raw, fresh, organic greens can be. In fact, eating them is essential for anyone who wants to become and stay healthy − no matter what your situation.
In the midst of our busy lives, consuming those daily greens in some kind of liquid form just makes sense. After all, who wants to lug around pounds of spinach or kale all day?
But what exactly is the best way to drink your greens − blended or juiced?
I’m frequently asked this question about juicing vs blending as I coach and speak to women on the 7 Essentials System™ of healing the body naturally.
The answer, in my opinion, is both. And it all depends on where you are right now on your healing path.
Juicing vs Blending… When to Juice?
Juicing is done using a machine, either electrical or mechanical, to grind, pulverize, and squeeze liquid out of your fruits and veggies. The fibrous tissues of the plants are not consumed, but instead discarded.
Juicing is good for specific situations, such as:
1. If you are going through a serious healing crisis and you want nutrients to be absorbed quickly into your bloodstream
2. If you want to give your digestive system a rest for a while, such as during a juice fast or cleanse
3. If you have just had chemo, surgery, or radiation and need to rebuild your weakened immune system through getting maximum nutrients quickly (juicing can be an especially effective way to do this if actual eating is difficult)
4. If you are under the supervision of a qualified health professional or are going through a program in a controlled environment, such as Gerson Therapy, in which juicing is a part of a larger healing protocol
If you decide to juice for a short period of time because of any of the above reasons and want to include fruits in your juicing, always make sure that they are low-glycemic, such as blueberries, lemons, or green apples. Since digestion begins in the mouth, make sure to swish the juice around in your mouth before you swallow to activate salivary enzymes. The excretion of these enzymes are an important part of the first steps of digestion.
Blending is Better for Everyday Health
Blending involves using a blender or other high-powered device to grind down green leafy veggies like kale and spinach, low-glycemic fruits, root herbs like ginger, and other vegetables. Blending uses the whole plant, stems and all. The end result is a thick drink that is satisfying, nutrient-dense, and delicious.
Blended meals can be a mainstay of your diet for long periods of time. The benefits of blending are numerous:
1. Blending breaks down the fiber, both soluble and insoluble, in greens and fruits. Consuming fiber in this way allows the glucose from these items to be absorbed in the bloodstream slower than with straight juicing
2. Blended drinks will oxidize slower in your system than with juicing. This means more targeted nutrients for you in the long run
3. In blended drinks, you can add extras like hemp, chia, or flax for some Omega 3 fatty acid infusion; nuts such as almonds or walnuts can be added for extra protein
4. In contrast to eating a salad, blending also allows your body to assimilate more nutrients. The blender will break down plant cell walls, releasing antioxidants and making your greens easier to digest.
Tips for Better Blending
A blended drink is sometimes called a “smoothie.” Just to be clear, however, there is a difference between the kind of healthy blended drink I am talking about and the “smoothies” that you may find at Starbuck’s or even at a “smoothie shop.” Those offerings are often loaded with high amounts of sugar and other unknown, processed substances.
In fact, according to the ingredient information found on their own website, a strawberry smoothie from Starbucks has a whopping 41 grams of sugar, about the same amount that is in a can of coke. Even Jamba Juice’s popular Tropical Greens has about 30 grams of sugar.
And don’t even get me started on Smoothie King. They don’t divulge much of the specific ingredients nor sugar levels for their “proprietary blends” on their website. In addition, each one of their smoothies includes turbinado sugar.
To be sure, the best smoothies are the ones you make yourself in your own home with just a few organic ingredients and the right kind of blender.
Food Combining: Learning from the Nutritional Wisdom of Primates
When you are blending, make sure you use mostly green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach. You can combine leafies with fruits, but make sure that they are low-glycemic such as apples or blueberries. Sticking with leafy greens (as opposed to vegetables like broccoli or cabbage) in combination with these fruits will eliminate the digestive upset that can sometimes happen when you mix high-starch vegetables with fruit. Even mixing low-sugar content fruits with veggies like beets or carrots can cause bloat in extra-sensitive people.
As an interesting side note, this kind of healthy smoothie food combining has actually been verified by science. Natural health advocate Victoria Boutenko first became inspired to combine green leafies with fruits after reading a Jane Goodall book on the eating habits of chimpanzees. The chimps would sometimes make a “sandwich” by rolling a banana in leaves of lettuce. Boutenko thought this was odd, since health wisdom up to that point recommended not to combine any kind of vegetable with any kind of fruit. Says Boutenko:
“I stared at that paragraph, thinking it was poor food combining according to human research. Then I thought that maybe chimps know better.”
Boutenko came to the eventual conclusion that green leafies were the victims of gross misrepresentation. According to her, leafy greens are not really “vegetables” in the way that squash, beets, carrots, broccoli, and the like are. Greens differ in that they simply do not have the starch content that these other veggies have. In fact, the high fiber content of green leaves actually help to slow down the absorption of fructose, making them an excellent pair for fruit.
No doubt the juicing vs blending debate will continue. Whatever way you choose, however, one things is crystal clear − making juicing or blended green smoothies a regular part of your diet will not only give you plenty of plant-based nutrients, it will also give you the healthy, sustained energy you need for a productive day.