To blend or not to blend? This is a question that a lot of people ask when they’re just getting started with smoothies. There’s been a lot of debate online (and on TV) regarding the benefits and potential tradeoffs of smoothing compared to eating fruit whole. If you’re looking for a little more insight on blending vs eating raw, this article provides some clear, useful pointers.
But before we dive right to the blending vs eating debate, let’s look at some of the perceived benefits of making smoothies.
- Blending leads to less waste – blending is much less wasteful compared to juicing (where you nearly all the fiber is filtered out of your fruits and vegetables).
- Unlike juicing, blending doesn’t lead to a blood sugar spike – fiber lowers the glycemic index of food. While juicing does away with just about all the fiber in your fruits and vegetables, blending does not.
- You can make superfood cocktails – some superfoods such as cacao, maca, chlorella, spirulina, goji berries, flax seeds and chia seeds can be hard to eat right out of a ziplock bag. By dumping these into your blender and making a smooth, you have an easier way to deliver a load of powerful nutrients to your body.
- Blending makes it easier to eat vegetables and fats – making giant salads can be as time-consuming as juicing. Of course, it’s a great idea to make a salad. But during those days when you don’t have a lot of time on your side, you can easily and quickly make a smoothie and take in all those nutritional vegetables. Also, by dumping your coconut milk, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, flaxseed oils and other fats in your blender, you can easily hit your daily need for omega-3 fatty acids.
- Blending is filling – if you blend your fruits and vegetables at the right thickness, your smoothie will be filling. Compared to eating bacon, eggs, and other quick bites before leaving your home for an errand, you’re better off making a thick smoothie and eating it with a spoon.
- Blending is fast – compared to juicing, blending is way quicker. To juice, you need to spend a lot of time preparing your fruits and vegetables. And even after juicing, cleaning your juicing machine can be a headache. This is the probably the chief reason why more people blend than juice.
Eating fruit vs blending – fiber
Fiber is not a specific nutrient but rather an entire class of associated compounds, which have a similar use in the body. Fiber is constituted of carbohydrate molecules (just like starch and sugars). However, the molecules in fiber are bound together by bonds that our bodies cannot digest. This means that our bodies cannot absorb the carbohydrates that make fibers, and that’s precisely why fiber is referred to as ‘indigestible’. With regards to fiber, the only difference between blending vs eating raw is that blending chops fiber into small pieces. Thus, we wouldn’t say that blending your fruits and vegetables destroys fiber.
Blending vs eating fruits – availability of nutrients
I have seen a lot of claims that blending releases the nutrients in vegetables and fruits. Some studies have shown that juicing and blending (to some extent) releases nutrients in vegetables and fruits so that they are better absorbed in the body. It’s recommended that to preserve the nutritional value of your smooth, you limit the storage time.
Essentially, blending is part of doing the work that your gut should be doing. This saves your stomach a lot of time and energy it’d take to digest whole fruits and vegetables. Breaking down the fibers during blending slows down release of sugars, and gives the body more time to absorb minerals, vitamins, and other healthy nutrients.
Heat and soaking
Two other factors that play into whether you should blend or eat your fruits are heating and soaking. If you’re planning to eat your fruits and vegetable whole, don’t overcook since some nutrients are sensitive to heat. Also avoid over-blending (fruits should only be blended for a short period of time) to avoid heating in the blender. Some common nutrients that are sensitive to heat include Vitamin C, and Pantothenic Acid. Folate and Thiamine also tend to be sensitive to heat especially high temperatures.
To prevent nutrient loss when preparing your fruits and vegetables for the blender, avoid washing peeled or cut pieces of fruit. Unless you’re planning to blend the soaking liquid with your fruits, there’s no reason why you should soak the cut pieces. Some vitamins such as C and many B vitamins are water soluble. These vitamins do leach out of the fruits when exposed to water, which obviously would reduce the sum nutritional value of your smoothie.