Are "healthy" juices same as candy?
Fruit juices and smoothies have been flooding the supermarkets lately, marketed & sold as healthy options. But are they really?
I'm going to share some tips on what to look out for when making or buying them, and how to make the best out of your liquid nutrition.
Just to clarify the definitions here, when I talk about juices, I mean blends that have only fruit, veggies or both in them.
When I talk about smoothies, I'm talking about blends of fruits, veggies or both, with a variety of other things added such as protein powders, yogurt, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, chocolate, cocoa powder, maca powder, etc.
100% fruit juices, V8's, and other fruit blends
The biggest misconception about fruit juices (including 100% ones) is the fact that most people think they get the same benefits from blending fruits and vegetables as eating them in a whole form. WRONG.
There are two most important differences:
1) when you blend fruits and vegetables you destroy their "fiber lattice"* which has a profound effect on blood sugar (more on it below);
2) blending or juicing exposes fruits and vegetables to heat, and air - both of which lead to oxidation and loss of many valuable minerals and vitamins;
*Fruits & veggies "fiber lattice" is composed of soluble and insoluble fiber that slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, blunting insulin (necessary for blood sugar regulation) and dopamine (reward hormone) responses. When you blend the fruit and vegetables, you shred that fiber lattice, leaving all that sugar free to hit your system as fast as a piece of candy.
Fruits without their protective lattice are like Miracle-Gro for your fat cells.
Having said that, here's a list of tips for future purchases.
Quick tips for buying or making fruit & veggie juices:
avoid any pre-bottled fruit or vegetables juices (including 100%) that have more than 5 g of sugar per serving - always read the labels (fruit juice bottles usually have more than 1 serving so you must multiply the sugar grams x the servings size to get the sugar content in the whole bottle);
if you get a juice from a juice bar, make sure they use cold-processing and drink the juice soon after you get it to avoid oxidation and loss of vitamins and minerals;
when ordering juices or making your own, stick to mostly veggies (ask for celery, kale, spinach, cucumbers, etc.) and one serving of low sugar fruit such as apples, lemons, berries versus bananas, grapes or oranges.
Guys, believe me when I say this, it's SO easy to make a smoothie that has 500-600 calories, even a 1000 calories.....
Just check out this "All-in-one breakfast smoothie" recipe from "Health" magazine.
This baby has 523 calories and whooping 77 g of carbs, most of them coming from simple sugars - that's more carbs and sugar than in 2 Snickers bars.
Not to mention that this smoothie has 22 g of fat - that's as much fat as in 2 McDonald's cheeseburgers. And only 9 g of protein so less than in 1 cheeseburger.
The only way I can describe this smoothie is a calorie, fat and sugar bomb.
Quick tips for buying or making lowest calorie, low sugar homemade smoothies:
whatever fruit you are using try to use an equivalent of 1 piece of fruit, so 1 banana, 1 peach, 1 apple, 1/2 cup berries. You can mix and match but stick to the portion size as if it was 1 fruit only;
don't add any other sweeteners such as honey, agave or even zero calorie sweeteners like stevia;
add green vegetables if you can, spinach is pretty much undetectable;
add protein powder or collagen; protein will slow down the absorption of sugars into the blood;
for weight loss stick to water, green tea, black coffee, unsweetened plant-based milks as liquid;
for weigh gain, smoothies are one of the easiest way to pack add more calories without feeling too full, so if that's your goal, you can add things like coconut oil, peanut butter, oatmeal, oat bran, sweet potatoes, etc.
add super spices like cinnamon (helps with blood sugar), turmeric/black pepper (anti-inflammatory) or ginger (antioxidant).
Looking for a healthy recipe?
Click here for one of my favorite immune-boosting smoothies.
Have more questions about any of this stuff? Let me know, I would love to help you out.