Question of the Day | “Is That a Juice or a Smoothie?”


After having conversations with several people about juice and/or smoothies I realized there is more of a general misunderstanding of what distinguishes the two than I had previously thought. It seems as if people use the term juice and smoothie interchangeably and when doing so are most commonly referring to a smoothie as being both.

So what is a juice?

In the plant-based vegan world there is clear and distinct difference between the two. Juice, constitutes a liquid which is extracted from the pulp of fruit, vegetables, and herbs. This means you run your contents through a juicer to remove the juice from the fiber of the plant. You can also make juice in a blender but this is a more complicated process. To do this you add all of your contents to a blender with little to no water, then blend them until smooth. After everything is blended together, you can pour the contents into a mesh strainer, a cheese cloth, or a nut milk bag and manually extract the juice from the pulp. In either case, you can discard the pulp or you can save it to make raw or cooked crackers and/or breads.

Some popular and conventional juicer brands are Breville, Champion, Hurom, Omega, and Jack Lalanne. These are only a few as there are several other brands out there to choose from that aren’t listed here. However all juicers are not the same. This is to say there are different types of juicer that are geared towards results. The most common juicers you will see on the market are the centrifugal or masticating varieties. I own a Breville Ikon Multispeed Juice Fountain which is a centrifugal juicer.

Here’s the difference between the two. Centrifugal juicers tend to be higher speed, higher capacity juicers. They have larger chutes that feed a large volume of contents through the juicer quickly and separate the juice from the pulp using a high speed spinning blade. Hence the name centrifugal because it is this force that shoots the juice out of one end and the pulp out of another. These juicers are great for juicing roots, fruit, and high water content vegetables such as cucumbers and celery. While they are able to juice leafy greens and herbs they are not the best juicers at extracting all of the juice from these plants. Furthermore, centrifugal juicers are completely unable to juice wheatgrass which is something to note if you are interested in making wheatgrass juice with your machine.

As an aside, some people argue that the centrifugal juicer heats and aerates the juice in the process of extracting it at such high speeds causing the juice to oxidize and loose some of its nutritional content. This is a point that is highly debated but it is a general rule of thumb to consume juice as close to making it as possible and try not to store it for more than a day.

Masticating juicers are the better option for juicing greens and wheatgrass. The masticating juicer is a slower moving machine with a smaller chute. Usually you have to chop your contents into smaller pieces to feed them through the chute. This juicer extracts juice by essentially “chewing” the contents using a rotor or a single orator to mash and press the contents to separate the juice and pulp. Though it is a slower moving process masticating juicers are able to extract more juice from the pulp. It also does not aerate the juice in the process of making it so you are able to store this juice for longer. However it is a general rule of thumb to again consume the juice as close to making it as possible to enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.

And how about smoothies?

Now a smoothie is what most of people are most familiar with. It is the process of adding contents to a blender, blending them and enjoying them just like they are. The possibilities for smoothies are endless. You can add fruit, vegetables, roots, water, nut milk, coconut water, fats (nuts, nut butters, coconut meat, avocados, etc), ice, etc, etc to your smoothies. It’s really up to you and your tastes. What distinguishes a smoothie from a juice is a smoothie contains both the juice and the fiber of the plant. The blender simply breaks down the cell walls of the contents leaving the fiber intact. Fiber is important to consume because it helps to “sweep” your intestinal walls clean and aids with proper digestion. It’s also beneficial for a host of other things as well.

Most people when taking on a plant-based vegan lifestyle become familiar with the smoothie making process before juicing. Smoothie making is much more common as many average households tend to have a blender on their countertop as opposed to a juicer.

Which is better for you?

Some are concerned that because juice does not have fiber that it is not as “good for you” as drinking a smoothie. My general response to this is that each has its own place in a diet. I make smoothies far more often than juice but I do not consider juice any less important to my diet. I drink smoothies as meals. I usually have them for breakfast and occasionally as snacks throughout the day. As you will see in my other posts, I make them with either fruit and green vegetables or just fruit.

Juice on the other hand I have at least once a week. I usually drink juice to give myself as extra vitamin boost. Juice is great to cleanse and/or restore your system because it does not have fiber which allows it to enter your blood stream soon after drinking it. It does not require much of your body’s energy to ingest because your body does not have to put in the work of digesting and breaking down the cell walls and the fiber in order to take in the nutrients. The juicer performs this task for you.

So the choice is really up to you how you want to incorporate juice and/or smoothies into your diet. Whatever you choose adding more fresh fruits and veggies into your life, in my opinion, is always a great thing regardless of how they are consumed.


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