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Smoothies vs. Whole Fruit: the battle for your 5-9 servings a day

Diet Cloud

And the winner is…?

In this corner: Smoothies!

It seems that in every town and on every corner in China there’s a new (or even not so new) shop blending up your favorite fruits and veggies into “fresh” juices and smoothies. Touted as nutritious meals or supplements that help with weight loss, beauty enhancement, rejuvenation and muscle growth, these drinks make it easier than ever for people to get their daily recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables while on the go.

However, many dietitians suggest that these juices and smoothies may not be nearly as good for you as the fruits and vegetables from which the drinks are derived. One problem is that additives, such as sweeteners, milk and yogurt, tend to boost the beverages’ overall calorie counts. A second problem is that even without these additives, a rather large amount of fruit is required to make a standard-sized juice or smoothie (e.g., 20-24 ounce), and that much fruit has a lot of calories. Moreover, people tend to guzzle their beverages (and calories) in a matter of minutes, which can in turn spike their blood sugar levels.

Certainly juices and smoothies can be a great way to absorb vitamins and essential nutrients quickly, which is terrific after a long workout, but you might be better off eating your fruits and vegetables whole (see below).

In this corner: Whole Fruit!

In contrast to juices and smoothies, whole fruits and vegetables generally take longer for people to eat and digest. When a fruit or vegetable is blended, the fiber gets pulverized which significantly reduces the produce’s hunger-curbing effects. In other words, although your juices and smoothies still contain fiber, you are more likely to reach for a snack sooner than if you had simply eaten whole fruits and vegetables, which is bad news if you are drinking these beverages as part of an effort to lose weight.

Verdict

Juices and smoothies have advantages and disadvantages versus eating whole fruits and vegetables. If you do opt for juices and smoothies, try making them with low-sugar fruits and vegetables, and adding supplements (e.g., protein powder and/or fiber-rich oats) to slow down digestion of the sugars. Also, make sure to switch out your juice or smoothie every now and again for whole fruits and vegetables.

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