Juice vs. Smoothie: Which One Is Healthier?

A nutritionist weighs in on which beverage is the better choice for you.

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Smoothies are generally thick drinks made from a blend of whole foods while juicing usually extracts the liquids from fruits and vegetables, which contain most of the nutrients from the fruit or vegetable. If you're looking for a nutritious drink, you might find yourself wondering: are smoothies or juices healthier?

Both smoothies and juice can pack a nutritious punch, but as a nutritionist and registered dietitian, I can tell you there's no definitive answer as to which is the best choice for you.

Instead, it comes down to your personal needs and goals. To figure out which one is right for you (regardless of what your friends, coworkers, or favorite celebs are sipping), here's the lowdown on each beverage.

Smoothie Pros

Because smoothies usually involve a blend of whole foods, all the nutrients from your fruits and veggies remain intact. Another big benefit to smoothies is the ability to add extra-nutritious ingredients to make a balanced drink. For example, you can pump up the protein by adding:

  • Greek yogurt
  • A pulse
  • A powder

You can also toss in healthy fat in the form of:

  • Avocado
  • Chia seeds
  • Almond butter

And you can blend in plenty of other superfood ingredients for an even broader spectrum of nutrients. Take matcha, a powdered form of green tea that a paper published in Molecules says contains health-benefiting compounds such as caffeine, antioxidants, and the amino acid L-theanine.

Another great add-in is freshly grated ginger, which a 2017 study in Nutrition found may protect against a host of diseases, such as diabetes and coronary heart disease when consumed daily. Other good nutrition boosters to blend into your smoothies include:

A smoothie's nutritional balance can make it a post-workout recovery drink or a legit meal replacement. In fact, a smoothie can make you feel fuller than if you had eaten the same food in solid form. A study from 2012 published in The Journal of Nutrition found that participants who drank blended-up water and food (in this case, chicken and veggies) felt more satiated than those who drank water and chewed that same food.

Smoothie Cons

If you make a smoothie with only produce or a lot of it, you'll likely consume far more servings of fruits and veggies than you would normally eat in one sitting. While this might seem like a good thing, it can actually mean gulping down more calories than you can burn, which might prevent weight loss or even lead to weight gain.

I've also seen this happen to clients who drink a smoothie with a meal rather than as a meal. Unknowingly, they're consuming two meals at once; one is just disguised as a beverage.

Case in point: I once had a client who wasn't seeing weight loss results despite eating healthfully and working out. One of the culprits I discovered was the 400-calorie smoothie he whipped up every morning, along with a bowl of oatmeal or a veggie omelet.

Juice Pros

While some people love veggies and have no problem fitting plenty of them into their diets, other people dislike veggies and can go days without eating anything green. Some people also take very little time to stop and eat meals. For them, juicing can fill a serious nutrition gap.

Because juices are so concentrated, even a small portion can provide the nutrient equivalent of several servings of fruits and veggies, which can make it much easier to take in all the key vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Juice Cons

Proper juicing generally extracts nutrients but leaves behind the fiber, a type of carbohydrate that's an important part of a healthy diet. Fiber slows stomach emptying, making us feel fuller longer, so juices can feel less filling than smoothies or whole fruit. By nixing fiber, you also miss out on gut health benefits and some important nutrients.

For example, a 2012 study in the Journal of Food Science found that a grapefruit smoothie—which contained more pulp than grapefruit juice—had a much higher content of naringin, a flavanoid shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

What's more, when juices are made with fruit or high-sugar veggies (like beets and carrots), you may experience a blood sugar spike, particularly if you don't consume any food at the same time. And when juices contain more fruits than veggies, they can pack far more carbs than you might expect—up to 40 grams in a 16-ounce serving.

Bottom line: If you're drinking juice to fit in servings of produce you might otherwise skip, that's great—just be mindful of exactly what's in your juice and how much you're drinking. But if your meals and snacks are already filled with veggies and fruits, you're probably eating enough produce to get your fill.

A Quick Review

Both smoothies and juices have pros and cons, and it's important to think about what your body needs before you decide which is right for you.

Smoothies, generally made by blending whole fruits and vegetables, leave the nutrients intact and can serve as a balanced meal if you add ingredients with protein, healthy fat, and other components your body needs. However, you can inadvertently consume more calories than you burn if you have a smoothie with a full meal.

On the other hand, drinking juice can be a great way to get nutrients if you tend to skip meals or avoid fruits and veggies. But juicing leaves behind a food's fiber, an important component of a healthy diet. Juice can also give you more carbs than you may want and cause your blood sugar to spike.

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  1. Kochman J, Jakubczyk K, Antoniewicz J, Mruk H, Janda K. Health benefits and chemical composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). Published December 27, 2020. doi:10.3390/molecules26010085

  2. Wang Y, Yu H, Zhang X, et al. Evaluation of daily ginger consumption for the prevention of chronic diseases in adults: A cross-sectional study. Nutrition. 2017;36:79-84. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2016.05.009

  3. Luca Marciani, Nicholas Hall, Susan E. Pritchard, Eleanor F. Cox, John J. Totman, Mita Lad, Caroline L. Hoad, Tim J. Foster, Penny A. Gowland, Robin C. Spiller, Preventing Gastric Sieving by Blending a Solid/Water Meal Enhances Satiation in Healthy HumansThe Journal of Nutrition, Volume 142, Issue 7, July 2012, Pages 1253–1258. doi:10.3945/jn.112.159830

  4. Rm U, Gk J, Vm B, Bs P. Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macfad) phytochemicals composition is modulated by household processing techniques. Journal of food science. 2012;77(9). doi:10.3945/an.113.005603

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