By Megan Morrison RD, Clinical Dietitian at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
What is the difference between juicing and blending? Is one healthier than the other? With different information and opinions available in the media and online, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. Here are some key points about each method.
“Juicing” is when whole fruits and vegetables are run through a juicer. Juicing removes the pulp (fibre), leaving you with some of the carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (healthful nutrients naturally found in plant foods). Some diets claim that juices are easier on your digestive system and can help detoxify and cleanse your body, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support this. In fact, our body naturally detoxifies itself. For example, our livers produce bile, which helps to remove toxins from our bodies.
Juicing is a good option for people with small appetites or who feel full easily. Juicing is also good for people who need to follow a lower fibre diet.
Juicing should not be used as the only source of nutrition because juices do not provide all the nutrients our bodies need.
Juices are low in protein, fat, fibre, calcium, vitamin D and iron. Without fibre, for example, the natural sugars in juice can enter your bloodstream too quickly leading to a spike in your blood glucose (sugar). Good blood glucose control is recommended for people with diabetes and those trying to maintain a healthy weight.
If you choose to drink juice, keep these tips in mind:
- Choose to eat whole vegetables and fruits whenever you can. Research shows that eating whole fruits and vegetables may protect against different cancers.
- Juices should not replace a meal as it may lead to weight loss and muscle loss.
- Have no more than 1 cup of juice at a time.
- Use a juicer that saves the pulp. You can then add the pulp to soups or muffin mixes to add more fibre.
- Follow food safety practices. Clean your ingredients, juicer, and kitchen surfaces well before using them and chill juice within 2 hours of making it.
- Avoid store bought fresh juices from a juicer because they can carry bacteria.
“Blending” is pureeing fruits and vegetables to make a drink. Sometimes other liquids or foods are added as well. Blended drinks are also called smoothies. Blending keeps the fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in the drink. Although blending may contain more nutrients than juicing, there is no scientific evidence to show that blended drinks are better for your health than eating whole foods. Blended drinks can be included as part of your diet in healthy ways.
Blended drinks are a good option if you have chewing and swallowing problems. Ingredients in blended drinks are not limited to fruit and vegetables, meaning they can have more nutrients than juices. For example, in blended drinks the fibre from the fruit and vegetables is still in the drink.
If you choose to make blended drinks, keep these tips in mind:
- Do not rely on homemade blended drinks as your only source of nutrition as they may not have all the nutrients you need.
- Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables. If you are trying to lose weight, add mostly vegetables and sweeten with a bit of fruit in a blended drink. If you are trying to gain weight, add more fruit to increase the calories in a blended drink.
- Follow food safety practices. Clean your ingredients, blender, and kitchen surfaces well before using them and chill drinks within 2 hours of making it.
- Avoid store bought smoothie machine drinks because they can carry bacteria.
How to make a blended drink:
- Start with a liquid base, like milk or soy beverage.
- Add a source of protein, like nut butter (peanut butter or almond butter) or whey powder.
- Add fruits and vegetables.
- If you need extra calories, add a source of fat, like olive oil.
- If you’d like, add spices like cinnamon, ground cocoa, or nutmeg to add extra flavours.
If you would like to speak to a
registered dietitian, ask a member of your healthcare team for a referral.
For additional information, refer to the
Food Safety For Patients with Weakened Immune Systems (PDF) pamphlet and
Goes Down Easy: Recipes to help you cope with the challenge of eating during cancer treatment. These resources are available in the Princess Margaret
Patient & Family Library.