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APR 1, 2024

The Truth About Blending Fruit: Dispelling the Myths

Blending fruit leads to a higher blood sugar level and should be avoided, right? Not necessarily. And we have the science to prove it.

Read time: 4 minutes

Whenever you come across a good thing, there’s always someone who comes along and spoils the fun. Usually it’s us saying “sorry, that’s not good for your body.” But this time, we’re here to combat some misconceptions and dispel a few myths. Namely about blending fruit.

You might have seen a video or two circulating around online saying smoothies are bad for you. And, arguably they can be, if you’re drinking far too many of them! But then you get someone talking about the dangers and risks to your blood sugar level, and suddenly it feels like it merits attention.

So let’s talk about it. Does blending fruits strip them of their nutritional goodness and send your blood sugar levels through the roof? Is there any truth to this widespread belief, or have we been needlessly avoiding smoothies for the wrong reasons? Let’s get the science books out!

The Misconception: Blending Equals Bad?

The crux of the myth lies in the assumption that blending fruit increases its sugar content or, more specifically, its impact on our blood sugar levels. In fact, some believe it quadruples the glycemic effect of fruit. In reality, this idea stems from a misunderstanding of how food processing affects nutrient absorption and digestion. Yes, processing can alter the structure of food and, in some cases, affect its nutritional profile. However, the notion that blending fruit amplifies its sugar content or its impact on our blood sugar to such an extreme is a gross exaggeration.

The Study That Sets the Record Straight

In a compelling counter-argument to the blending naysayers, a study titled "Postprandial Glycemic Response to Whole Fruit Versus Blended Fruit in Healthy, Young Adults" sheds light on the true impact of blending fruit on our blood sugar levels. The study took a group of healthy students and tested the difference in blood sugar responses between consuming whole apples and blackberries versus their blended counterparts.

“We used a repeated measures two-way ANOVA with fruit treatment as the within-subject variable, sex as the between-subjects factor, and glucose maximum, glucose incremental area under the curve (iAUC), and 60 min glucose as dependent variables. Glucose maximum and glucose iAUC were significantly lower (p < 0.05) in blended fruit compared to whole fruit and 60 min glucose was marginally significantly lower (p = 0.057) in blended fruit compared to whole fruit. --- We hypothesize that a reduced glycemic response in blended apple and blackberries compared to whole apple and blackberries might be associated with the release of dietary fiber and nutritive components from ground blackberry seeds.”

That’s a lot of sciencey talk but basically, contrary to the myth, the findings showed that instead of an increase, there was a 15-point reduction in blood sugar levels when participants consumed blended fruits compared to eating them whole. This revelation is significant because it challenges the longstanding belief that blending fruit is detrimental to our sugar intake and overall health.

The Role of Dietary Fiber

What’s more, let’s focus on that last line: “--might be associated with the release of dietary fiber and nutritive components from ground blackberry seeds.” The research suggests that the observed reduction in blood sugar levels can be attributed to the dispersion of dietary fiber from the seeds during the blending process.

Obviously, fiber plays an important role in regulating our body's sugar absorption, slowing it down and preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. So, by blending these fruits, especially those with seeds, we might be enhancing the distribution of fiber throughout our smoothies, aiding in a more stable glycemic response.

What Does This Mean for Your Smoothies?

So, like all scientific studies, one test doesn’t equivocally prove everything. Instead, it acts as a foundation for further research and understanding. But, the study offers a refreshing perspective on the consumption of blended fruits and provides interesting evidence that reassures us that smoothies aren't necessarily the villains they've been made out to be. In fact, it turns out, enjoying your favorite fruit in blended form could actually be beneficial, especially if you're mindful of including a variety of fruits with seeds, to maximize the dietary fiber benefits.

However, it's essential to remember that no single food or food form should be seen as a magic bullet for health. Smoothies are nutritious and tasty but should still be consumed as part of a balanced diet. It's about the bigger picture - incorporating a variety of foods, both whole and blended, to ensure a rich intake of nutrients.

The Bottom Line

Every day there are new rumors and myths that crop up but it’s important to dispel myths in nutrition and seek out the data that gives us a better impression of what is and isn’t helping. Honestly, it’s the only way to make truly informed choices about our health.

So, with the myth that blending fruit makes it nutritionally inferior and harmful to our blood sugar levels has been debunked, maybe it’s worth doing a bit of your own research and seeing what else people have been saying may or may not be true.

And, remember, the next time you reach for your blender, your smoothie isn’t going to immediately spike your blood sugar and could in fact help lower your glucose levels. But balance is still key. Treat yourself but don’t rely on them for meal replacement.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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