Smoothies and Juices: Smooth Operators or the Real Deal?

Are smoothies healthy?

Smoothies and juice diets – they seem to be everywhere these days. While I agree that a grab-and-go meal is convenient, I had to wonder if replacing a meal of solid food with liquid food is a great idea.

To find out if my concerns are off base, I reached out to Registered Dietitian Maggie Tomlinson with Banner – University Medical Center Tucson.

“The best way to eat is whole foods,” Tomlinson said. “But if you meet your goals for the day, juices or smoothies can be added as a supplement to your diet.”

If she had to pick one, Tomlinson would go with a smoothie.

Are smoothies healthy?

In a smoothie, the fiber from the fruits and veggies hasn’t been lost in the blending process. But with juices, the fiber is left behind with the discarded pulp and skin. Fiber is important because it helps your body absorb nutrients and aids in digestive health.

Another downside to juices is you’ll likely end up consuming more of the food by drinking it as a liquid than you would have by physically eating it. “You wouldn’t normally eat four or five large carrots, but four or five large carrots when juiced only make about four to eight ounces of juice,” said Tomlinson.

And while it won’t look like a lot of juice, you’ll still be getting all the sugar – if you’re using more fruits – but probably feel less satisfied. “There’s less of a sugar spike with whole foods. Plus whole foods stay in your stomach longer, making you feel full longer,” she explained.

Smart Smoothies

When making a smoothie, Tomlinson suggests you use veggies as your base. Start with kale or spinach and add a banana or blueberries – these hide the taste of veggies better. You can also add an apple or orange for tartness.

And if you’re trying to get a meal out of your smoothie, adding protein powder can be really helpful.

Tomlinson said she incorporates a smoothie into her morning routine. Here’s her average breakfast:

  • Hard-boiled egg or nut bar
  • Smoothie made with kale, cucumber, celery, cilantro, ginger, lemon juice, water and ice

“This keeps me feeling full for hours,” said Tomlinson. “But keep experimenting with different fruits and vegetables until you find what works for you.”

Interested in learning the nutritional value of the fruits and veggies you’re putting in your smoothie or juice? Check out our Nutrition Facts tool.

Also read: Getting juiced

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1 Comment

  • I like the tip about adding protein powder to a smoothie. Maybe it’s just me but I just don’t see the point of drinking one if you aren’t at least a little bit satiated afterwards. With the protein powder it seems like a great way to have a snack/meal that is pretty healthy and isn’t so calorie dense.

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