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As it turns out, smoothies and juicing are a lot more than the process of muddling carrots and wheatgrass to work a nutritious concoction into your daily meal. And these two popular drinks aren’t just for health nuts either.

While the health benefits of juicing spread like wildfire around the globe (wait—another juice bar just popped up?!), it seems this act of blending and creating beverages has becomes somewhat of a lifestyle. If you still find yourself humming and hawing over this trend, here’s everything you need to know about smoothies and juicing and exactly why they’re so popular.

Hurrah! The Positive of Juicing

  • Convenience. Have you ever noticed that healthy eating can be just…inconvenient? So many ingredients, so much prep—it can all be very tiring. You’re not the only one! It’s one thing to sit down and try to gnaw your way through a plate of fruit and veggies every day, but it’s quite another to blend them all up and drink them back with a few swift gulps. Smoothies and juicing takes the inconvenience out of your battle to get your proper daily nutritional intake. Plus you can prep all the ingredients in advance for a week’s worth of morning smoothie or juices to make the process even swifter.

  • Eat more fruits and veggies. Besides being easy when you’re in a rush, smoothies and juices allow you to consume more fruits and veggies than you normally would. In a juice, for example, you might be able to add a few cups of spinach—way more than you’d usually be able to eat at breakfast. Because of the ability to jam pack a smoothie full of ingredients, you’re able to reap more of the health benefits—though we can’t guarantee all of the things you add will work together in culinary harmony.

  • Antioxidants. A study conducted by the Department of Agriculture showed that 90% of the antioxidants are found in the juice of the fruit, not the fruit itself. This means that you’ll get these benefits through the drinking down juice without chomping on a cucumber, head of kale and four apples.

  • Low in unhealthy ingredients. Drinking your own, homemade juice means that you’re avoiding the unhealthy ingredients found in most store-bought beverages like fats, added sugars and salt. Truly, you’re dodging a bullet—have you seen how much sugar is in the average store-bought juice? Just make sure you’re keeping your homemade concoctions fresh, healthy and whole.

Hmph! The Juicing Negatives

  • Upset tummy. Juicing can lead to foodborne illnesses, according to the Food and Drug Administration, since it makes use of raw foods which may harbor pathogens that can some tummy trouble, or in some cases, more serious conditions like E.coli and hepatitis. Be sure to wash your fruits and veggies thoroughly before you blend, and don’t let your raw juice sit before you drink! This means you need to make it fresh daily to get max benefits while minimizing health risks.

  • Clean up time. Cleaning your blender or juicer can be a time-consuming process and unfortunately, it’s after each blend. This usually requires hand-washing, which may take up to 10 minutes of dismantling, washing and drying your equipment. Want the benefit without the mess? Choose a juicer or blender that boasts easy to clean capabilities, like the Omega J8006 Nutrition Center.

  • Loss of fibre. Juicing can strip the fruits and vegetables you’re painstakingly preparing of fibre. Though the juice is still tasty as ever, a low-fibre diet can cause spikes in blood sugar which leads to symptoms like headaches, mood swings, dizziness and fatigue. Again, pick the right juicer for you—some actually keep the fibre intact, meaning more nutrients for you.

  • Low-protein diet. While juicing can be an excellent way to boost your metabolism and shed weight, it is a low-protein diet that (when paired with the low calorie diet of juicing) can cause your body to lose muscle tissue. If you’re going to go juice or smoothie-centric, consider finding ways to infuse protein into your diet, like snacking on a handful of almonds, to ensure you’re keeping yourself energized.

Getting the Most from Your Smoothies and Juicing

  • Gulp it right away. Don’t store your raw juices or smoothies: Gulp them down as soon as they’re ready! The Mayo Clinic backs up this claim, stating that raw juice is especially vulnerable to bacteria when stored. Plus, nutritionist Monica Reinagel says that the nutritional value of the juice will break down when exposed to air and light.

  • Keep the pulp. Don’t over-blend or over-juice. Do what you can to keep the pulp in your beverage or add it back in at the end to keep some fibre in your diet.

  • Get your protein. Don’t skip the protein when you go on your juicing diet—avoid relying completely on juicing for your meals and instead replace one meal with a juice or smoothie instead of all three!

The verdict? Juicing can be a beneficial addition to your already established regimen of healthy eating and living, but it isn’t a “one drink cures all” solution. So grab some good ingredients, the right equipment and find the right recipe for you—just keep the above tips in mind.

Photos: Dirima / Shutterstock, Lecic / Shutterstock, Africa Studio / Shutterstock, Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock

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Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece