To Juice or To Blend?

If you’re juicing, and isn’t everyone, the big question is: Is a juicer or high-speed blender better?

It turns out two researchers at Lincoln University in Canterbury, New Zealand, wondered the same thing. They decided to test whether making a green juice in a high-speed blender or a masticating juicer kept more of the oxalates found in spinach, a common ingredient in green juices.

The difference between the two juice makers is this: A high speed blender, such as a VitaMix 5200 — which was used in this study, or a Blendtec, leaves all of the plant material in the juice. Masticating juicers, such as what the popular Breville juicer makes and probably what your favorite juice shop sells, discards the pulp that houses all that good for you fiber.

The whole food approach to juice that the high-speed blender allows might be better, according to Howard Murad, MD. When I saw him speak in Manhattan Beach, California, in 2014 he answered the blender or juicer question specifically. He chose the blended juice because not only are you giving your cells the water that they need but you’re consuming all that wonderful fiber and whatever other cellular goodness that is in these plants.

This is great, but what did the study say…

Two juice recipes were tested in each: a high spinach mix — which contained 600 grams of Popeye’s favorite vegetable, and a low spinach mix — which contained 300 grams of the stuff. Apples, celery, cucumber, green pepper, red capsicum, lemon, and parsley made up the rest of the ingredients.

Overall, the juice from the masticating juicer contained more total and soluble oxalates than the juice from the high-speed blender. It turns out that the pulp in the high-speed blender juice lowers the overall oxalate contents per 100 grams of juice, according to the study’s conclusions published in NFS Journal. Though the reason why this is isn’t clear.

Why is oxalate a big deal?

Too much spinach = too many oxalates = higher risk of kidney stones

I know firsthand what eating too much spinach can do. There was a brief period of time when I started my day with a big green juice from my favorite juice place, and then ate a spinach salad for lunch. (I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to eating.) Sure enough, I ended up in the ER with an oxalate kidney stone.

Here is the thing about oxalate: It isn’t an essential nutrient, and it is found in most edible plants. Luckily, through processing, you can reduce the level of oxalates in foods. Which is what this study shows. When the researchers looked at the amount of oxalate in the pulp that came from the juicer it contained the same higher levels as the juicer’s juice. Basically, pulp isn’t created equally.

Is a blender or juicer better?

Ultimately, whatever is easier for you is better. But in terms of healthful benefits, my bet is on the blender.

Either way you juice, just make sure you aren’t getting too much of a good thing in the case of oxalate. Ten foods with oxalate are spinach, rhubarb, beet leaves and root, nuts, chocolate, concentrated brans, legumes (beans and soy), regular tea, and berries. (I don’t know about you but that is most of my diet.) Juicing is all about balance.

 

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