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Comcast Channel 8 Passion for Health: Juicing and Smoothies

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for the Passion for Health series for Comcast Channel 8 in Putnam County, NY. If you tuned in then you already know all about juicing and smoothies. If you missed it, I review all of the details here…and we’ll make sure you know when the next one airs!

Can you explain the difference between juicing and making smoothies?

Juicing :  this describes using fruits and vegetables- including greens- to create a juice by                                                                                      pressing the juice out of them. In most cases, the pulp of the produce is left                                                                                              behind.

Smoothies:  smoothies are also made with an assortment of fruits, vegetables and greens                                                                                            and usually with a dairy or dairy alternative base from milk, yogurt, almond milk, soy milk etc. The                                              whole fruit or vegetable is used so smoothies always  include the pulp or fibers of the produce.

Why do think juicing and smoothies have become so popular?

There are many reasons that come to mind to explain why these drinks are so popular. To begin, people know they need their fruits and vegetables, but want them in the quickest and most convenient way possible. Also, these drinks may be made to taste sweet, which helps people “enjoy” their fruit and vegetables more. Lastly, since the trend has been well supported by cookbooks and there is an array of products available at the supermarket and smoothie/juice shops many people are consuming them often.

So, are they a healthy alternative to just eating a piece of fruit or having a salad?

Well, that depends on how the drink is made….

For Juicing: if the pulp is left out then you are missing on very important fibers that make your produce healthful for you. While you are still getting antioxidants, without the fiber you are primarily getting the sugars from fruits/vegetables. These drinks will therefore not leave you satiated or full for a long time and may add several calories to your day.

For Smoothies: the ingredients used in a smoothie will dramatically impact how healthful they are. For example: a smoothie made with fruit, traditional yogurt and a bit of juice will be high in sugar and low in protein. Again, it is an opportunity to consume the antioxidants found in produce- and you are getting the whole fruit/vegetable which contributes fiber- but it can include a lot of sugar and calories. There are many ways to make a smoothie more healthful, which makes them a good tool such as adding ground flaxseed, natural nut butter and using non-fat, plain Greek yogurt.

Do you think that they are a good weight loss tool?

Ultimately that depends on how they are made. Without careful consideration to the ingredients used you can end up with a drink that offers several vitamins and minerals, but primarily offers a lot of sugar. When we consume foods high in sugar, we are left hungry because we digest them quickly and are soon hungry again. When this happens we end up adding calories to our day because we are pretty much eating to be hungry instead of full! Of course, more calories, more potential for weight gain.

So is there a way to create a juice or smoothie that reduces the sugar or helps you feel more full and satisfied from drinking it?

Absolutely. When we add heart healthful fats such as ground flaxseed and avocado we are adding ingredients that are going to digest slower and keep up fuller longer. The bonus with ground flaxseed is that it also offers omega fats, which are the essential fats found in fish, which the American Heart Association recommends we consume at least twice per week.  With smoothies you can also use non-fat, plain Greek yogurt, which is very low sugar/high protein in place of traditional yogurt. On average a cup of plain Greek will give you around 20 grams of protein, which is exceptional. You can also add natural nut butter for more protein and satiating “good for you” fat.

What kind of smoothie are we making today?

Today’s smoothie is made from:

Frozen blueberries:        blueberries are a super food because of their rich blue color.                                                                                      Frozen is just as good as fresh and more accessible- though                                                                                                                               fresh is fabulous too! Note: frozen means no need for ice

1 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt:            low sugar/high protein

½ cup nonfat milk:                                           to thin it a bit, a non-dairy alternative is fine too

1 tbsp ground flaxseed:                                   for omega fats- must be ground, not whole to benefit from fats

2 oz pineapple juice:                                       optional, will also help thin it out and offers a little sweet and                                                                                                                            about 12 grams of sugar