Food Fight!: Smoothie vs. Juice

by in Food Fight, January 12, 2014

smoothie and juice
Which is the healthier pick, a blended smoothie or a refreshing juice? These two drinks battle it out in the latest food fight!

A quick all-in-one breakfast, the smoothie combines a variety of ingredients like low-fat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, milk, milk alternatives and 100% fruit juice. Some smoothies use sherbet or sorbet for a cold, smooth consistency. Almond or peanut butter, flaxseed, rolled oats, avocado, spinach and other wholesome ingredients can be mixed and matched. The possibilities are truly endless.

Using full-fat ingredients like whole milk or large portions of higher fat, healthy ingredients (like nut butters or avocado) can sabotage even a wholesome smoothie. And when large glasses of any blended ingredients are poured as one serving (exceeding about 12 fluid ounces) the calories can start going into the 500-plus range — definitely defeating the purpose of a quick and healthy snack or meal.

Fruit juice also has its pros and cons. Juice can absolutely be part of a healthy eating plan but only if it’s 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Other juice imposters are basically water and added sugar. Portions are another big concern.

Four fluid ounces of 100% fruit juice contain about 60 calories and count as a serving of fruit. Most of the sugar is usually natural, meaning, it comes from the fruit. The same amount of 100% vegetable juice is about 25 calories and also counts as a serving of vegetables.

But drinking your fruit and vegetable servings isn’t the ideal way to get them in. Juicing destroys important vitamins (specifically vitamins A and C) which some manufacturers choose to add back in, while others do not. (You can tell if any vitamins were re-added by reading the ingredient list.) Whole fruit and vegetables also offer more fiber, which helps add bulk and keeps you more satisfied.

If juicing suits your fancy, it’s another way to get fruit and vegetable goodness into a glass. But again, portions are important in order to keep calories in check.

Healthy Eats Winner: Smoothies are the winner in this food fight. A well-balanced blend of a variety of wholesome ingredients can add important nutrients to your diet.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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Comments (8)

  1. […] Four fluid ounces of 100% fruit juice contain about 60 calories and count as a …read more […]

  2. Francesca says:

    Nice Pick!! This fellow Dietitian agrees :)

  3. I like them both but blend about 3 times as often.

  4. Laura says:

    I have to disagree with your thoughts on the use of full fat foods in smoothies. A higher number of calories doesn't make it a less healthy choice as long as those calories are coming from nutrient dense whole foods which they are, and not using them in excess. Those fat calories are the very thing that will keep a person from feeling hungry after an hour and in turn reaching for more food.. I would encourage you to investigate the Weston A. Price Foundation, their research as well as their disputes with "politically correct nutrition", which is making for a very sick America. Did you know that the fat in some of the foods of which you speak are actually necessary in order to fully absorb the nutrients in those foods? We live in a fat phobic country that has embraced the lie that says "fat creates fat and weight gain" . Good fats , including saturated fats, are critical for our health. They serve a host of important functions in our bodies every day and without them our health deteriorates. The dangerous fats are those in vegetable oils which we have been mislead to believe are good for us. Nothing could be further from the truth! The low fat , no fat life style is the one to fear. Nutrient dense foods and healthy fats are life giving. Saturated and mono saturated fats like those in avocados ,butter and full fat dairy should be readily consumed. Our obesity epidemic has not been caused by too much fat, but the wrong fats and the outrageous consumption of carbohydrates from grains as well as sugars. Even fruit sugar, natural though it may be, in excess causes the pancreas to work over time. Low fats diets leave people hungry and looking for more food. Diets that contain healthy fats at every meal help transport nutrients to the cells and leave us feeling satiated, which curbs over eating and relieving further cravings for food. Making a smoothie with full fat dairy whether yogurt , milk or plain kefir ,1 serving of berries which have low glycemic load, coconut oil and/ or avocado some flax or chia seeds or nut butter would be far better than low fat products and fruit juice. I do agree with what you stated about fruit juice. Aside from the large amounts of sugar in juices and minus the fiber you would have from eating the fruit whole, is the fact that most juices have been pastured rendering them a "dead food" . Yes they have vitamins added back but not enough to make them a healthy choice for consumption. I believe the tide is turning and more and more people are coming to realize that the good fats are out friends and counting calories is a thing of the past!

  5. Dee says:

    We juice each morning with fresh oranges, strawberries, grapes and pineapple and drink approx.6-8 oz. each. Just before drinking, we add one scoop each of ground flaxseed and Green Vibrance and serve in shaker cups. This amps up the nutritional value of the juice and is a wonderful way to start the day.

  6. Chil1193 says:

    I agree with Laura but — this study compared a smoothie vs. a juice – presumably bottled. How about natural juicing. Fresh produce – fruits and vegatables – through the machine and that's it.

  7. vitamix says:

    Nice article, I added juices in my diet for weight loss, whatever you said is correct only juices can't help in weight loss, the diet must be complete and nutritious including proteins and healthy fats along with regular exercise. Vitamix

  8. Blendtec says:

    Thank you for the article. I have heard good reviews about Vitamix and perhaps I should get one and start enjoying the benefits like everybody else. I love the recipe and gonna try that.

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