This is a question that sometimes comes up on the health and raw food forums, usually causing a lot of heated debate. There are a few experts, with a lot of credibility, who are saying “Don’t drink green smoothies. Green smoothies are not good enough. You need to be eating your greens in salads, eating sprouts, fresh water algae, seaweeds, and/or other “super-foods,” as well as drinking freshly made green juices made from sprouts and organic vegetables using high-quality juicer.”
Some of these people make it sound like blended green smoothies are no better than *junk food*.
One of the experts that has been very outspoken on this topic is Dr. Brian Clement. Dr Clement is the director of the Hippocrates Health Institute, a highly renowned institution, that has been helping people with terminal cancers and other life-threatening diseases for many decades. A disciple of Ann Wigmore, the founder of the wheatgrass movement, Dr. Brian Clement believes in juicing – wheatgrass, sprouts and green vegetables.
Dr. Clement has made several statements online claiming that blending destroys approximately 90% of the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables. According to him, the loss of nutrients is due to oxidation that is happening during blending. As oxygen is being sucked into the blender during a blend cycle, nutrients in the food are being destroyed, and as a result your blended smoothie would only contain about 10% of the nutrients in the fruit and greens that you put in the blender.
Does Blending Destroy 90% Of Nutrients?
According to Dr. Clement, oxidation is the reason that smoothies should not be considered “health food” and should instead be considered “recreational” or “transitional” (“bridge”) food, for people switching from the SAD diet, because the process of blending them for 90-120 seconds destroys 90% of nutrients.
Okay, so let’s look at some facts:
1. There is no denying that some nutrient loss does occur from blending. However, nutrients are lost whenever whole foods are chewed, cut, chopped, juiced, shredded, peeled, dehydrated and otherwise exposed to air. Nutrients in food begin to degrade the instant they are harvested, exposed to UV light and heat. You can’t get 100% of the nutrients in every food unless you eat plants right after they are picked, and even then, you will destroy nutrients just by chewing the food.
However, that doesn’t mean that the kale sitting in your refrigerator right now is devoid of nutrients – or unhealthy. And it certainly doesn’t mean that green smoothies are junk food.
2. A professional blender, such as Vitamix, blends a smoothie in about 10-20 seconds, not 90-120 seconds. I certainly wouldn’t blend a green smoothie for a solid two minutes, but even so, I doubt that it would result in 92% nutrient loss.
3. Secondly, green smoothies are loaded with antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids and carotenoids that help reduce and prevent oxidation.
4. Victoria Boutenko conducted an experiment on potatoes where she juiced one and blended the other. After two days, the blended potato had very little oxidation, most of which was at the top of the glass where the liquid was exposed to air. The juiced potato turned brown and oxidized much more rapidly. She asked two scientists to comment on the results, and they both agreed that her experiment proved that blending may indeed be better than juicing in this respect.
5. Also, the amazing results that people are getting by adding green smoothies to their diet, certainly prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is not “junk food.”
And even Dr. Clement admits that smoothies are an excellent bridge food from what people are eating now to what he would call a “healthy” diet. He even goes so far to say that blending is “infinitely better” than what most people are eating.
In fact, the cornerstone of the Living Foods Lifestyle at the Hippocrates institute is the Energy Soup, a blended mixture of greens, sprouts, vegetables, Rejuvelac, and dulse. Energy soup is a complete meal, containing every nutrient in a balanced form that the body needs.
Ann Wigmore, when she developed the Hippocrates diet, advocated juicing fruits and vegetables as a way to obtain optimal nourishment. However, in her later years, she became a proponent of blending foods rather than juicing them. The only juices she used were watermelon and wheatgrass.
Ann Wigmore believed that juices can be too cleansing for most people’s bodies.” Blending helps the body to clean itself and thus it restores health much quicker than just eating the foods as salads, yet it does not overtax the system with the rapid cleansing action of juices,” she wrote. “Also, juices do not contain fiber. Separating the fiber and other elements from the juice results in a food that is not as balanced as Nature would have it.”
The thing you need to consider is this: If you are already eating a big bunch of kale and other greens in your salad, along with other vegetables, as well as drinking freshly made organic juice every day, then you probably don’t need green smoothies, and you will not observe any benefits from adding them to your diet, other than perhaps time that you will save by blending your produce, instead of preparing salads and juices.
However, my guess is that 99% of the people are not there yet.
The forgotten fact is, in ANY form, Americans simply aren’t eating the sufficient quantity of good-quality natural plant foods.
EVEN IF a salad is superior (and I dispute that, even though I love salads too!), guess what? Virtually no one is eating that much salad. If your goal is perfection, then perhaps you need to start growing your own organic vegetables and sprouts, and eat them freshly picked in salads, chewing them to perfection. I choose to operate in facts and realities to come up with solutions that people will actually DO.
Green smoothies are an excellent first step that is easy to take for anybody. It literally doesn’t get any easier than this. It’s the best use of your kitchen time, so even if you only spend 20 minutes in the kitchen right now, you can fit it into your lifestyle.
Plus it’s a sustainable habit. Most people who buy juicers don’t use them every day. My juicer has been sitting unused, collecting dust, for a long time, even before I started blending. Since I purchased my VitaMix four years ago, I’ve been using it almost EVERY SINGLE DAY when I’m home, a few times per day. (I say almost every day, because I don’t take it with me when I travel).
Try putting 2 lbs. of fresh greens and vegetables on a giant platter. Tell someone to eat it in a day. It’s beyond daunting—it’s virtually impossible unless you’re going to spend 30 minutes chopping and 90 minutes chewing. Most people cannot spend hours a day preparing food and trying to get all my food down, so blending is their best option.
Nutrients oxidize a little bit upon blending, but then again, nutrients are also lost when greens are chewed and swallowed. Nutrients are also lost because the narrow modern palate doesn’t break them down well enough to get absorbed fully.
Just think that you’d have to eat a giant platter of plain greens daily that you get in your quart of green smoothie–I doubt that you’d actually do it. Green smoothies are nutritionally superior to 99.9% of what 99.9% of Americans are eating all day.
I obviously feel strongly that green smoothies are a great way to spend 10 minutes to get up to 15 servings of raw fruits and greens in the diet. Don’t forget that a quart will completely fill your stomach, with only 200 calories. You don’t need any dressing to get it down. You don’t have to prep it for 30 minutes and spend another 30 minutes eating it.
So, if you ask me, even if green smoothies are not the “Holy Grail” of nutrition (there are many more things that you can and should be doing, such as eating big salads, loaded with greens, sprouts, seaweeds, and other healthy foods :-); you can also add freshly made green juices to your repertoire) — for overall nutrition, made quickly, consumed easily, for high impact on many different health issues, green smoothies win hands down.
Are green smoothies no better than junk food?
What are your thoughts?