Juice vs. Whole Fruits vs. Smoothies... Which is the BEST way to optimally absorb your nutrients? Is the juice trend really all that it's hyped up to be?
The juice trend has a fair amount of pros and cons. The pros being that it encourages people to be healthier, it is a good way to get more nutrients a bit faster and more condensed than many other food trends and it even gives many people a glimpse of how great it feels to incorporate more fresh ingredients into their diet!
Despite this being a trend on the healthier side, there are some significant cons as well. Sometimes, depending on the juice brand, these "fresh" juices tend to contain high sodium or added sugar if the juice is mass produced and bottled.
Drinking fruit juice can lead to a spike in blood sugar and even if the juice is squeezed as fresh as possible straight from the fruit, you still are not getting all of the nutrients that you will get from the whole fruit itself. The skin and pulp of fruits both provide more nutrients (especially fiber) that not only assist in proper digestion and bowel movements, but also in binding the sugars from the fruit to help slow down the process and allow your body to use them as a proper energy source rather than the quick spike you get from the juice (Baird, 2013).
In the article I've attached below, they discuss a study on the difference in the rise of insulin levels in adults from equivalent amounts of sugar in drinking juice versus eating fresh fruit. The results from intake of the fresh fruit showed significantly lower response of insulin than the juice. Another study they found from the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine showed "Among children who were initially either at risk for overweight or overweight, increased fruit juice intake was associated with excess adiposity gain, whereas parental offerings of whole fruits were associated with reduced adiposity gain" (2006).
With that information, I would confidently say to you that drinking fruit juice is LESS beneficial than eating raw, whole fruits. As far as smoothies go in comparison to juice, the two are similar because they are a blended/liquid version of whole fruits-basically a meal replacement. Smoothies are ideally nutritionally superior if they are made with fresh fruits and vegetables. With smoothies you are able to blend in a whole fruit or vegetable right in with the skin and pulp, rather than just squeezing the juice out of it.
It would make sense that fresh smoothies are more nutritionally dense than fresh-squeezed juices, although I will conclude with the statement that eating whole, raw fresh fruits is the best way to optimally obtain the nutrients they provide. The interview of this marathon runner is an awesome example of this!