the world of food is innovative and constantly changing to fit tastes and textures as well as diet and life trends. each redesigned food paradigm seems to bring a fancy new kitchen gadget and some with a hefty price tag. when we change the way we eat, it’s often for physical benefit or ease in timing. in this on-the-go world we live in, food that is both nutritional and fast has become the most popular option. out of the top three favorites, juicing, smoothies or whole foods, which ones are more fuss and hype than actual health?
let’s look at juicing. this is a great way to get the water and nutrients from your fruits and vegetables in an easily digestible form. with all of the solid fibers removed, the nutrients enter your system faster and in concentrated doses. the problem with juicing is quantity and selection.
first, juice is just a liquid, so you will consume quite a bit if you are using it as a meal replacement. this means more sugar and more calories than if you chose a different method of consumption. for example, if you were to eat a large carrot, you would ingest about 3.5 grams of sugar. if you were to drink a cup of carrot juice, you would take in three times that amount. you will get more nutrients, but it’s not the diet friendly choice.
what you choose to juice plays a huge part in how healthy your drink will be. fruits are bad choices. sounds counterintuitive with fruit being a good choice for a balanced diet, but that is only whole fruits. this goes back to how many you would have to juice in order to drink a glass. did you know that 12 ounces of apple juice has the same sugar content and more calories than 12 ounces of coke? so choose watery vegetables and perhaps half of a fruit to flavor the drink.
at the end of the day, juicing is a caloric luxury. it is the most nutritious dessert you can choose and should not be used as a meal replacement.
so what about smoothies?
this is a better choice because you get all that filling fiber and consistency, yet it is broken down making it easier on digestion. once more it comes down to quantity and selection. what is going into your smoothie and how much of it?
the thing with blending, is it takes whole foods and makes them much smaller, so we can quickly polish off an apple, a cup of spinach, a cup of yogurt or coconut milk, a scoop of protein powder, a handful of mixed seeds, a spoon of spirulina and a half a cup of berries. we will be full afterwards, but we also would have been satisfied with the apple and seeds. be very aware of how much food is going into your blender, and ask yourself if you would eat that much if it were on a plate. if you’re packing in whole foods, use water as your base, ice as a thickener and skip any powders that have extra calories.
be sure to choose low sugar foods as well. with everything being broken down and easier to digest, the nutrients get absorbed much faster. this means the sugar is absorbed much faster which can cause spikes in insulin and result in energy slumps.
finally, let’s look at whole foods. with all the kitchen tricks in the world, this is still the best choice for your body. we need fiber and roughage. this is what cleans out our digestive tract, like little scrub brushes for the inside. it’s also what gives our system bulk to expel foods more easily. sugars are trapped by fiber allowing a slower release into our bodies controlling the insulin response and avoiding the crash. fiber also helps us feel full longer and with less, a natural protection from consuming more calories than we need.
there is a basic function that is extremely important to the process of digestion and our overall health which is completely surpassed by juicing and smoothies. chewing! the act of grinding food in your mouth before swallowing is much more than breaking down with the teeth. it is a signal to your body to start preparing the system for digestion.
chewing is also directly linked to food satisfaction. this part of a meal is when we savor the flavors, textures and aromas. by mindfully eating and slowing chewing each bite, we are more aware of how much we want and when to stop. when the taste buds have more time to enjoy food, they tell your brain that you are satisfied, leading to satiety.
so out of the three options, sitting down to mindfully eat a meal is the best choice for your health, but realistically we don’t always have the time. if running behind, a smoothie is the next best thing. simply be aware of how much goes into the blender. lastly, juicing is a wonderfully nutritious snack, but it should be used with moderation.