Green juices and smoothies have become so widespread over the past few years. What are the differences between the two, and are they worth the hype?
I first discovered the concept of "green juice" through Kim Synder's "The Beauty Detox Solution". What makes green juice so attractive is that it's practically a liquid form of a salad, chock full of raw fruits and/or vegetables, and potentially a few protein/flavor/omega-3 boosts as well. The most famous is the "green juice", because we all associate the color "green" with "healthy". There are many other kinds of juices, such as ones made with apples and beets (a deep purple/raspberry color) or ones that are carrot based (orange!). Not all juices taste "bad" or "green"; the addition of fruits or sweeteners (agave, maple, honey) increase palatability.
Juicing extracts the liquid from fruits/vegetables but does not include the fiber. This is a quick way to get the vitamins and minerals you need without eating them, but juices tend not to be very filling because most lack fiber, fat, and protein (disclaimer: there are some that include avocados and nuts, which make them a bit more filling). There is another concept called "slow juicing", which is a slightly longer but less wasteful process that produces a less aerated and more flavorful juice. Another key term is called "cold pressed", which means that the ingredients are ground into a pulp and then slowly pressed with intense pressure to extract their juices. The claim is that this process yields juices that are higher in nutrients , but are still rather low in fiber, high in sugar, and veeery expensive.
Juice cleanses have become very popular as well -- these cleanses range from one to ten plus days long, and restrict an individual to drinking juices (and water) only (no solid food!). There are many companies who create these "juice cleanse" kits and provide the juices for extremely high prices. The promised benefits? To name a few: weight loss, clear skin, increased energy.
On the other hand, however, it's necessary to give your own body some credit. The liver is the organ that's responsible for detoxification, and it does a phenomenal job at that! There's really no need to clean your body with juices (and go under the physical and financial pressure of a juice cleanse) when all you really need to do is eat a wholesome diet and indulge in moderation. Additionally, the lack of fiber means that digestion of juices occurs very quickly. You're not going to feel full or sustained from drinking juices, and this can lead to the stereotypical irritable mood during a juice cleanse. The lack of solid food and fiber will naturally cause you to lose weight, but this minimal amount of weight will be re-gained when you start to eat solid food again.
So am I against juicing? Not at all. I think that juicing is a great tool to implement in your diet if you have the resources (juices themselves demand a lot of high-quality ingredients and equipment), and it's a great way to get your kids to incorporate more vegetables/fruits in their diets. However, I don't think that juice cleanses are necessary, and the obsession over them is something that does frighten me.
I think I actually prefer smoothies over juices because they contain all of the fiber from the ingredients. Smoothies are made simply by blending ingredients and liquid in a blender (high power blenders can actually make smoothies that have consistencies akin to that of juices!). Smoothies are not as wasteful because all of the ingredient is added into the final product, and they have a lower effect on blood sugar because of the retained fiber. In a sense, smoothies are more cost-effective because you get a greater volume of product from the same amount of ingredients, and blenders tend to be less expensive than juicers!