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  • Meera Shah, MS, RD

To Drink Your Fruits or Eat Them, That Is The Question!

Well...that wasn't Hamlet's original question, but that question is much more relevant in this day and age of ultra-powerful, ultra-fast, ultra-expensive blender and juicer technology. So let's dive right in!


Juicing

  • Pros: Some micronutrients may be lost via juicing, but most are maintained. It can serve as a convenient, quick way to get some form of fruit & micronutrients into your day. A 100% fruit juice is more nutrient dense than alternative beverage options such as sodas, shakes, or sweetened iced teas.

  • Cons: When we use a juicer to extract fruit juice, we remove some important elements of the fruit, namely, fiber. Fiber has many benefits - it can help regulate blood sugar, regulate bowel movements, and prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease - all of which is lost when we "juice". Without fiber, natural sugar behaves the same way as regular sugar causing a spike in our blood sugar levels. Some people believe juicing is better because you can consume more fruits & thus more micronutrients. The truth is, there's no scientific evidence to suggest that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit itself. In addition, drinking your calories versus eating them does not allow time for our bodies to send satiety signals. It's much easier to consume a lot more calories and sugar in a short amount of time when consuming calories in beverage form.


Takeaway: I would avoid regular consumption of drinks that concentrate sugar - even if it's from natural fruits. But, occasional consumption of 100% fruit juice can be incorporated into an overall balanced diet!


Blending

  • Pros: Smoothies can help us increase our overall fruit intake. Blending fruits, without straining the mixture afterwards, maintains some of the fiber content of the fruit (not all). For some, blending can make fruit easier to consume, and/or digest. Not to mention, just how downright convenient smoothies can be in incorporating fruits in our diets.

  • Cons: There are 2 types of fiber - soluble & insoluble. While the soluble is kept intact, some of the insoluble fiber is broken down and lost when we blend (benefits of fiber listed above). As with juicing, drinking our calories increases the likelihood of overeating and allows less time for our bodies to send satiety signals to our brains. When consuming blended fruit, we experience a sugar response that is slowed down by the soluble fiber (which is advantageous to juicing), but missing the insoluble fiber present in whole fruits.


Takeaway: Blending can be a convenient to-go option that can be used to improve fruit intake. For some individuals, it makes fruits easier to digest/tolerate. Some of the fiber content is maintained, which is advantageous to juicing, but some is lost. Add some protein and/or fiber powder to the blended fruit mix to slow down the blood sugar response.


Whole Fruits

  • Pros: When we eat fruits whole (as opposed to a smoothie or juice) we maintain the fiber content of the fruit in full. Also, eating fruits whole takes more time than drinking fruits. This slows down the blood sugar change in our bodies. Lastly the simple act of chewing has many advantages, such as aiding in digestion & absorption of nutrients, and starting the process of sending satiety signals to the brain early.

  • Cons: None! (barring a specific underlying condition)


Takeaway: Eat whole fruits freely.


Bottom Line

Let me end by saying - fruit in some form is better than fruit in no form! Do not let the following information deter you from consuming fruit in some way, shape or form. Fruits are packed with important vitamins, minerals, & fiber. They nourish our bodies in ways that cannot be replaced. Stay fruity my friends!

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