While most of us know the health benefits of fruit, does blending fruit destroy the fiber that provides many of the benefits? Or are smoothies just as good of an option as whole fruit?
A question I’ve seen come up quite a bit lately is, “Does blending fruit destroy the fiber?”. This is a great question! And as a Registered Dietitian, I can answer this for you all.
Smoothies and juicing have been popular for quite a few years, and we generally recognise both as healthy foods.
But are smoothies and juices just as healthy as the whole fruit? What benefits do they provide? And in what ways are they not as healthy?
Does blending fruit remove the fiber?
No, blending fruit does not remove the fiber content. The fiber is contained in the pulp of the fruit, and since you don’t remove any of that pulp when you blend, it won’t remove the fiber.
On the other hand, if you juice your fruit or remove the fiber after blending (such as putting the smoothie through a cheesecloth for example), then yes, you would have removed the fiber.
If you are looking to increase your fiber intake, stick with whole fruit or smoothies. While juices contain lots of micronutrients like vitamin A and C, they contain little to no fiber.
Does blending fruit destroy nutrients?
So if blending doesn’t remove the fiber from fruit, does it destroy any nutrients? Well, it depends!
There have been several studies looking at the differences between hand squeezing, blending and juicing on various nutrients.
In one study looking at grapefruit, they found that blending led to higher levels of flavonoids, limonin, citric acid and ascorbic acid, while hand squeezing led to higher levels of DHB, which increases the absorption of supplements.
So in some cases, blending can increase the levels of various nutrients and phytochemicals depending on the fruit used.
Another common concern brought up is the heat created in the blending process. While application heat can change the content of some vitamins, the heat produced with blending won’t make any significant changes.
Is drinking a smoothie the same as eating fruit?
When it comes to the nutrients present in a smoothie versus a whole fruit, there aren’t going to be any significant differences.
But, when it comes to satiety, there are going to be some differences. In one study, they found that participants were more full after eating a fruit salad (as opposed to a smoothie), but this didn’t seem to affect how many calories the participants consumed.
Another study comparing whole apples to applesauce or apple juice found similar results. The whole apples were more satiating than the applesauce and apple juice.
Overall, while nutritionally they are very similar, you will likely feel more full and satisfied after eating a whole fruit versus a smoothie. But, everyone is different, so if you feel more full after eating a smoothie compared to a piece of fruit, choose the smoothie!
Does blending fruit increase glycemic index?
Blending fruit into a smoothie does not increase glycemic index, or it’s effect on blood sugar. This is because fiber is retained through the blending process, as mentioned earlier.
When the fiber is removed, for example with juice, then the glycemic index will go up, so if you are concerned about glycemic index, smoothies or whole fruit are the way to go.
That being said, I am personally not a huge fan of the glycemic index because you rarely consume foods by themselves and you can always add ingredients to lower a meal’s overall glycemic index.
For example, while white rice has a high glycemic index, you can pair it with chicken and veggies, which adds some extra protein and fiber, to lower the overall glycemic index.
To use a smoothie as an example, adding a good source of protein (cow’s milk, protein powder, soy milk) and a good source of fiber (berries, flaxseed, chia seed, rolled oats) can easily lower the glycemic index.
Is it ok to have a fruit smoothie everyday?
Yes, absolutely! When it comes to eating healthy, what really matters is your overall diet.
If you had a smoothie for every single meal, you would likely be missing out on a lot of essential nutrients.
But, a daily smoothie is a great way to get in some fruit and dairy servings! For those consuming 2000 calories, it’s recommended to consume 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of dairy daily.
So if you enjoy smoothies and crave one daily, go ahead and do it. There is no harm in having a smoothie everyday and it’s a great way to increase your fruit and dairy intake.
What are the best ingredients to put in a smoothie?
There are so many different ways to make a smoothie, but overall you should focus on having a good source of carbohydrates, fat, protein and fiber in each smoothie.
Here are some examples of ingredients you can add to your smoothie and what categories they can fit into:
- Any fruit (carbohydrates, fiber)
- Cow’s milk (protein, carbohydrates, fat)
- Soy milk (protein, carbohydrates, fat)
- Fruit juice (carbohydrates)
- Almond or oat milk (carbohydrates, fat)
- Rolled oats (carbohydrates, fiber)
- Spinach or other greens (fiber)
- Pumpkin (carbohydrates, fiber)
- Nut butter (fat, protein)
- Nuts and/or seeds (fat, protein)
- Protein powder (protein)
- Yogurt (protein, carbohydrates)
As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to making a nutritious smoothie. Pick and choose the ingredients you personally like!
Here is an example of my go to smoothie as a dietitian: frozen bananas, spinach, protein powder, 2% cow’s milk
It’s super simple and tastes great! If you like a more fruity smoothie, you can replace the cow’s milk with juice.