Do you still get nutrients if you blend vegetables?

Blending vegetables into smoothies and juices has become a popular way for people to increase their vegetable intake. Proponents claim that blending helps release nutrients, while critics argue that blending destroys valuable fiber and nutrients. So what’s the truth – do you still get the nutrients if you blend your veggies?

How Blending Affects Nutrients

Blending breaks down plant cell walls, which allows some nutrients to be more bioavailable than they would be if eaten whole. For example, the lycopene in tomatoes is more readily absorbed when tomatoes are processed into sauce rather than eaten raw. The carotenoids in carrots also become more bioavailable when carrot cells are broken through blending.

However, blending can degrade or destroy heat-sensitive vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins. The friction and heat generated from high-powered blending oxidizes and breaks down these water-soluble vitamins. Blending for a long time at high speeds can result in losses of up to 97% of vitamin C. Lower speeds for less time can help minimize vitamin loss.

Blending also breaks down valuable insoluble fiber from vegetables. This fiber helps promote gut health and makes you feel fuller. Whole vegetables and fruits have a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which have benefits.

Nutrient Loss When Juicing vs. Blending

Juicing extracts the liquid from fruits and vegetables, removing the insoluble fiber. This fiber loss is one reason why juice is seen as nutritionally inferior to blending. Take a look at how juicing versus blending 1 cup of raw kale affects its nutrient content:

Nutrient Raw Kale Kale Juice (no fiber) Kale Smoothie (blended)
Calories 33 46 33
Protein (g) 3 2 3
Carbs (g) 7 11 7
Fiber (g) 2.5 0 2
Vitamin C (mg) 120 22 94
Vitamin K (mcg) 1000 22 790
Vitamin A (IU) 47,000 776 37,600

As you can see, juicing kale significantly reduces its fiber content and results in large losses of vitamins A, C, and K. Blending preserves more nutrients since it includes the whole vegetable, although some degradation of heat-sensitive vitamins still occurs.

Tips to Maximize Nutrition When Blending

Follow these tips to get the most nutrition out of your blended smoothies and juices:

  • Use a high-powered blender that can thoroughly break down tough vegetable cell walls.
  • Don’t over-blend. Blend just long enough to breakdown cell walls without generating excess heat.
  • Add ice to help cool the blender and minimize vitamin loss.
  • Add lemon juice – its vitamin C helps limit oxidation.
  • Blend vegetables with fruits like oranges that are high in vitamins.
  • Use raw, frozen vegetables to minimize nutrient degradation.
  • Drink smoothies immediately after making them.
  • If juicing, consume the juice and fiber pulp to get the full nutritional benefits.

Health Benefits of Blended Veggies

Despite some nutrient losses, there are still many benefits to blending vegetables:

  • Increases vegetable intake – Blending makes vegetables more palatable and convenient.
  • Improves bioavailability – Blending ruptures plant cell walls so the body can absorb carotenoids and other nutrients more easily.
  • Easy digestion – The smaller particles in blended vegetables are easier to break down and digest than raw vegetables.
  • Provides fiber – Blending retains insoluble and soluble fiber from the whole vegetables.
  • Preserves nutrients – Blending retains more nutrients than juicing since no parts of the vegetables are removed.
  • Sustained energy – The fiber in blended veggies helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Research has linked drinking blended vegetable smoothies with many health benefits including:

  • Lower cholesterol and improved heart health markers
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation
  • Increased antioxidant status
  • Better blood sugar regulation
  • Healthier body weight and composition
  • Improved satiety, fullness and appetite control

Nutritious Vegetable Smoothie Ideas

Here are some tasty vegetable smoothie ideas to boost your nutrient intake:

Detox Green Smoothie

  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1-inch ginger
  • Squeeze of lemon

Carrot Apple Smoothie

  • 1 cup carrot juice
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed
  • Dash of cinnamon

Mean Green Smoothie

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1-inch ginger
  • 1 celery stalk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed

Purple Power Smoothie

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1-inch ginger

The Bottom Line

While some nutrient loss occurs, blending vegetables can increase bioavailable nutrients and antioxidants compared to eating them raw. Blending also increases vegetable intake compared to juicing. For maximum nutrition:

  • Use a high-powered blender and don’t overblend
  • Add vitamin C-rich fruits and ice
  • Drink smoothies immediately
  • Rotate a variety of colorful vegetables like kale, carrots, tomatoes and beets

Incorporating blended vegetable smoothies into your diet is a tasty way to dramatically boost your vegetable intake and get a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber for better health!

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