Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. It promotes regular bowel movements, may help lower cholesterol, and helps you feel full. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, with around 2-4 grams per serving.
Blending fruits and veggies into smoothies is a tasty way to get more produce in your diet. But does the blending process actually increase or decrease the fiber content? Let’s take a closer look.
What happens when you blend fruit?
Blending breaks down the cell walls and structure of the fruit or vegetable. This allows you to consume more nutrients that would otherwise be trapped inside these cells. The blending also breaks down some of the insoluble fiber into soluble fiber.
There are two main types of dietary fiber:
- Insoluble fiber – Does not dissolve in water. It helps move material through your digestive tract.
- Soluble fiber – Partially dissolves in water. It forms a gel-like material and helps lower cholesterol and blood sugars.
Blending converts some insoluble fiber to soluble fiber by mechanically and enzymatically breaking down the cell walls. This makes more nutrients available for absorption.
Fiber content in whole vs. blended fruit
Studies have analyzed how blending affects the fiber content in fruits and vegetables. Here are some of the findings:
|Fiber in whole food (g)
|Fiber in blended food (g)
As you can see, blending fruits and vegetables typically decreases the total fiber content slightly compared to eating them whole. However, the soluble fiber content increases.
Why fiber decreases during blending
There are a few reasons why blending may reduce total fiber:
- The blending damages and breaks down the insoluble fiber found in skins, seeds, and pulp.
- Nutrients can get trapped in the small pores of insoluble fiber. Blending releases more of these nutrients.
- Some water-soluble fiber dissolves into the smoothie liquid, so you might not consume all of it.
The soluble fiber content goes up because some insoluble fiber gets mechanically and enzymatically broken down into soluble fiber. This increases the availability of certain nutrients.
Tips to increase fiber in blended drinks
Here are some ways to boost the fiber content when making blended fruit drinks:
- Leave the skins on fruits and vegetables when blending.
- Add nuts, seeds, oats, or bran cereal.
- Mix in a tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds.
- Blend the entire fruit, including the peel, seeds, and pulp.
- Add green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale.
- Include high-fiber fruits like berries, apples, and pears.
Adding extra fiber-rich ingredients to your smoothies and shakes can help increase the total fiber content.
Should you blend fruits and veggies?
Blending produces a smooth, drinkable product, but slightly reduces the total fiber content. However, the soluble fiber increases, potentially improving nutrient absorption. Here are some pros and cons of blending produce:
|Increases soluble fiber
|Decreases insoluble fiber
|Improves nutrient absorption
|Loss of texture from skins and pulp
|Easier to digest
|Potential loss of heat-sensitive nutrients
|Allows higher produce consumption
|Sugar releases faster into bloodstream
Overall, blending fruits and veggies is an effective way to increase your produce intake and obtain more soluble fiber. But eating whole fruits and vegetables is still important for getting all the benefits of insoluble fiber as well.
Blending produces like fruit does result in a small decrease in total fiber content. However, the soluble fiber increases, which provides health benefits. To maximize fiber, leave the peels on produce, include high-fiber additions like flaxseed, and continue eating whole fruits and vegetables.
Aim for a mix of blended drinks and whole produce for ideal fiber intake. Enjoy the convenience of smoothies and shakes, but also crunchy whole fruits and veggies at meals and snacks. This balanced approach helps ensure you get all the types of fiber your body needs.
Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Consuming a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber from a variety of plant foods can promote good digestive health, regularity, and possible protective effects against chronic diseases.