Here I am, delighted with my new blender. I've unpacked it, plugged it in and turned it on. A wide variety of ideas come into my head of what smoothie concoction that I can come up with.
As I start to peel the vegetables, I think to myself, all these organic veggies are rich with fiber to keep me full throughout the day. If they get shredded into very small pieces, will it retain its nutrients?
It's important for me to feel full for the day and to the best of knowledge I understand that fiber is the most relevant nutrient to achieve this.
So, taking that into consideration, do blenders destroy fiber?
Well, after a bit of research I found out that blenders do not destroy fiber. Blending does break down fiber into smaller pieces, however the fiber still remain intact.
This is due to the ability of blended food to enhance nutrient absorption and speed up digestion. The fiber will remain there to provide its health benefits. Blending fiber rich food can produce a drink that is comprised of even more healthy phytonutrients and fiber. As a result, you can still feel full for a long time after you've consumed the blended food.
The machine used for blending certainly reduces the size of fiber particles, but the fiber is still there.
Fiber molecules have a unique unique way of bounding together that's retain its consistency. From this point onwards, digestive enzymes assist to further break down large compounds into ones smaller ones.
These compounds are small enough to pass through the absorptive surfaces in the intestines.
But what exactly is fiber?
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can't digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn't digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body.
So now that we know what fiber is. When blended, the process does indeed cut and shred food, there is no basis to fear that this process breaks down the molecular bonds that form the essence of the fiber.
While that is reassuring, is it the same for other nutrients?
I did some additional research and came across some resources to better wrap my head around this.
Do blenders destroy nutrients?
There is always going to be conflicting sources when trying to determine hard science facts regarding the breakdown of nutrients inside blended food. I wanted to at least see what the general consensus was.
First of all, on average, a standard blender blends a smoothie in 30 seconds or less. Could this be enough time to destroy all the nutrients?
Some claim that oxidation can happen within this short amount of time.
But what is oxidation you might ask?
At its most basic level, oxidation is the loss of electrons. It happens when an atom or compound loses one or more electrons. Some elements lose electrons more easily than others. These elements are said to be easily oxidized. Generally speaking, metals including sodium, magnesium, and iron are easily oxidized.
A lot of raw foodists claim that the process of oxidation occurs when blending and that this can destroy the nutrients in fruit and vegetables.
But if this is to be believed then it should be considered that a lot of food preparation steps can also cause the same oxidation effect.
These food preparations include juicing, cutting, chopping, shredding, peeling, chewing and dehydrating.
So, if the process of oxidation occurs in these scenarios then this to me sounds like blending is on parity with the rest of these common processes.
How Long do Nutrients last after blending?
While I am still a bit hesitant about some of the information about nutrient retention in the contents of a blender.
I wanted to know how long the nutrients will last once blending has completed. This lead to some interesting research.
As mentioned already, oxidation is natural process, it is inevitable process that occurs once fruit or vegetables are exposed to air. So, it makes a lot of sense to consume the blended goods as soon as possible.
The optimum time to consume food or vegetables to take of advantages of its nutrients is within the first 20 minutes of it being blended.
If you are looking to prolong the nutrients in your blended substances, buying higher quality fruit or vegetables can really help.
Blending organic fruit and vegetables its nourishing qualities are more likely to last for longer.
To maximise retained nutrients, it's only logical to store the blended produce as efficiently as possible. This is primarily to protect from oxygen and protect from heat and light.
Placing any blended substance in a fridge is an obvious solution but it naturally keeps the produce cool and placing it in a dark place tends to slow down the degradation reactions.
If your blended product turns brown. This is a clear indicator that nutrients have been lost. Again, this will happen when exposed to light, air or heat for an extended period of time.
Storing common blended produces such as smoothies and juices in this way will minimize its oxidation. They can store liquids like this for up to 3 days.
A common technique to retain the nutritional composition of blended food is to store it in a mason jar. A mason jar is common household glass containers that is used to preserve food.
As well as mason jars, you can store your blended produces in glass holders, for example, knitted canning glass containers or bricklayer jugs.
These sorts of glass containers can seal firmly with uniquely outlined tops, again slowing down the oxidation process.
A measure to increase the nutrient composition of what you blend is to use slower blenders or juicers.
An alternative to a blender could be a juicer. Juicers such as masticating or triturating juicers work at a slower speed with little-to-no heat, as a result there is less oxidation in the juicing process.
Does Blending fruit release more sugar?
This an interesting idea. Can blending fruit actually release more sugar?
With blending, depending on the fruit, sugars contained in the produce are released which is known to cause a blood sugar spike and crash. Especially in the absence of fibres.
I have looked into the idea that blending can break down fibre. This research has been somewhat conflicting to say the least.
However, from most of the sources I've examined, it is claimed that fiber does not changed in blended fruit.
Obviously, the idea of blended fruit releasing more sugar is a concern that a lot of health minded people have been investigating.
I wanted to see what I could find.
According to multiple sources, for optimal nutrient levels, don't over blend fruit as some nutrients within are heat-sensitive and could potentially be destroyed.
But this comes with an additional warning, while blending fruit does indeed retain its fiber. The consistency of sugar within the new formed liquid can significantly change.
When consumed, your blood sugar can shoot up rapidly in the first hour. This is in stark contrast to eating the fruit whole.
In cases like these, your blood sugar just goes up and comes down normally.
According to NuritionFacts Michael Greger M.D. FACLM states that:
What happens if you take in the same amount of sugar in applejuiceform—about two cups? Your body overreacts, releasing too much insulin, and you end up dipping below where you started. The removal of fiber in the production of fruit juice can enhance the insulin response and result in this “rebound hypoglycemia.”
Nutrition Facts also has an information video on the same process:
Blending food is a daily occurrence for a lot of people. It saves time and can result in many interesting recipes and combinations.
So the science behind the nutrients is an important topic for many. Because of this, the research of the topic was quite contested overall.
I also find that it quite easy to manipulate people who are looking for solid information on their nutrition. This can lead to some dishonest claims about blending your food.
Overall, I think the potential of lost nutrients (particularly fiber) from your blended food and vegetables is minimal. As long as you adhere to common sense general storage practises I really don't think the composition of your nutrients will be very much affected.
Oxidation of these nutrients seems to be generally preventable for the first 72 hours.