While most of us know the health benefits of whole fruits, 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 recognize 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 dietary 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, it’s a good idea to 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 the nutritional value of the fruit? 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.
The short answer is, while nutritionally they are very similar, the best option to feel full and satisfied is eating a whole fruit versus a smoothie. But, everyone is different, so if you feel more full after eating a blended 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 its effect on blood sugar levels. This is because fiber is retained through the process of blending, 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 the whole form of 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 seeds, flax seed, oat bran, wheat bran) 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. That being said, once daily fruit smoothies are 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 or vegetable juices (carbohydrates)
- Almond or oat milk (carbohydrates, fat)
- Rolled oats (carbohydrates, fiber)
- Spinach or other leafy greens (fiber)
- Pumpkin (carbohydrates, fiber)
- Nut butter (fat, protein)
- Nuts and/or seeds (fat, protein)
- Protein powder (protein)
- Yogurt (protein, carbohydrates)
- Lime or lemon juice (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 and tastes great! If you like a more fruity smoothie, you can replace the cow’s milk with juice.
The Best Blenders for Smoothies
If you are looking for a powerful blender, there are plenty of options on the market. They come in all shapes and sizes and prices as well. Here are a few options that I really like:
If you don’t want a blender or can’t afford one, there are a few other options. Firstly, you can always use a food processor to make smoothies. In fact, these work very well if you want a very thick, ice cream like smoothie texture. This is great for smoothie bowls. You can also use a handheld blender, which are typically used for soups to blend the mirepoix (onion, carrots, celery) into the broth or cream. Simply place your ingredients into a sturdy bowl and use the handheld blender to blend the ingredients. You may need to add more liquid for this option.
Fruit Smoothie Recipe Inspiration
If you are looking for inspiration on a fruit smoothie that not only tastes great, but is filled with beneficial nutrients and fiber, then this list is for you. I notice that I do get sick of the flavor of a certain smoothie after a few days, so I love to switch it up. Here are a few of my all time favorite high-fiber smoothie recipes:
- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie: 1 frozen banana, 6 ounces of pumpkin puree (unsweetened), 1 cup of 2% reduced fat milk or plant milk of choice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 scoop unflavored or vanilla protein powder, 1/4 cup rolled oats and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Green Smoothie: 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1 cup orange juice, 1 handful leafy green of choice (spinach, kale, etc.), 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 scoop unflavored protein powder.
- Orange Creamsicle Smoothie: 1 frozen orange or 2 frozen mandarins, 1 frozen banana, 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup 2% reduced fat milk, 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 tbsp flax seed or hemp seeds, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Cherry Berry Smoothie: 1 cup mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.), 1 cup cherry juice, 1 handful leafy greens, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 scoop unflavored protein powder.
- Creamy Banana Nut Smoothie: 2 frozen bananas, 2 tbsp peanut butter or nut butter of choice, 1 cup 2% reduced fat milk, 1 scoop unflavored or vanilla protein powder.
- Tropical Smoothie: 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 tbsp hemp seeds or chia seeds, 1 scoop unflavored protein powder, 1 cup orange juice or other fruit juice.
- Sweet Melon Smoothie: 1 cup frozen melon of choice (honeydew, cantaloupe, etc.), 1 cup 2% reduced fat milk, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar, 1 scoop unflavored protein powder.
I would love to hear about your favorite smoothies, so if you’d like to share, comment down below. I would love to try out a few of your favorite smoothie recipes for myself.