February 24, 2014
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of blending, and I've definitely been seen on YouTube producing some pretty weird things in my blender, including my high-fat ketogenic kale smoothie.
But why exactly am I such a blender nerd, and why is this particular big black blender a staple in my kitchen that ranks right up there with a fork, a plate and my giant red wine glass?
First, let's delve into 7 big benefits of blending…and then I'll show you a video I shot that includes 5 shocking but healthy foods you can safely put in your blender. I'll finish this article by addressing whether blending somehow destroys all the fiber in your fruits and vegetables.
7 Big Benefits of Blending
1. Blending is fast. I sometimes use an Omega masticating juicer, but it can take a very long time to prepare fruits and vegetables for juicing, and the clean-up is a big headache. So I juice about 1/10 as much as I blend. Speed is important to me, especially in the morning.
2. Blending is filling (if you blend at the right thickness). As you'll see in the video later in this post, I blend my smoothies super thick so that I can “chew” the smoothie and eat it with a spoon, which allows the digestive enzymes in my mouth to pre-initiate digestion and make me fuller, faster. Because I'll often spend a good 30-45 minutes reading articles, talking with my kids, or sorting through the mail while I nibble away at my smoothie, I'm often more full than if I'd sat down to quickly gulp down bacon and eggs.
3. Blending doesn't spike your blood sugar as much as juicing. Fiber is one great way to lower the glycemic index of a food. Juicing eliminates just about every shred of fiber, while blending does not. By the way, you're about to reinvent your idea of fiber intake when you see the video later in this post.
4. Blending produces less waste. As you'll also see in the video, I blend just about every little thing except the shell of my brazil nuts. So the only thing I really need to clean after blending is the BPA-free blender jar itself, and the spatula I use to scrape every last bit of goodness out of the blender.
5. Blending allows you to easily consume superfood cocktails. Let's face it: superfoods like chlorella, maca, spirulina, cacao, goji berries, chia seeds, flax seeds and protein powder are hard to eat with your hands out of a ziplock bag. Dumping these kind of things into a blended smoothie makes it far easier to deliver boatloads of nutrients to your body.
6. Blending makes it easy to eat your vegetables. Just like juicing, making giant salads can also be extremely time consuming. Don't get me wrong: I love sitting down to my lunchtime “big-ass salad”, but often don't have the time or need to work through lunch. So I'll often put the entire day's serving of kale, bok choy, spinach, broccoli, cilantro, parsley and other greens into my blender and dump it all into my giant lucky mug (and no, you don't need to worry about those goitrogens).
7. Blending also makes it easy to eat your fats. By dumping everything from avocados to coconut milk (choose BPA-free coconut milk) to coconut oil to MCT oil to flax seed oil, hemp seed oil and extra virgin avocado oil (I use this stuff) into your blender, you can easily reach your daily needs for anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and other fats that are crucial for your cholesterol, blood, joint, brain and nerve health.
Ready to blend? Then let's delve into some very interesting things that you can safely put into your blender, and then see what you can do about blending potentially “destroying the fiber” of your fruits and vegetables…
5 Shocking But Healthy Foods You Can Safely Put In Your Blender (And Your Body)
1. Egg Shells
Egg shells contain 27 essential minerals and trace elements, including calcium carbonate, a form of calcium that’s very biologically compatible with and similar to the calcium in our bones and teeth. In animal and human tests, egg shell calcium have shown increased bone density, reduction of arthritic pain, and stimulation of cartilage growth. You can read more about that here.
One last thing: if you make a habit of dropping a whole egg into your smoothie, consider spraying and wiping down the outside of the egg quickly with a vinegar and water solution, or better yet, an oil of oregano and water solution. This will ensure you kill any germs that might be living on the eggshell.
2. Avocado Seeds
Yes, you can just drop the whole avocado into your blender – just like I do in the video. Avocado seeds have 70% of the antioxidants found in the whole avocado, and avocado seed oil is also chock full of antioxidants that specifically limit oxidation of cholesterol, help to prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes, and assist with joint repair and autoimmune function. Avocado seeds have more soluble fiber than oatmeal (and just about any other food).
Avocado seeds can be nourishing and healing for inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract, and for diarrhea. In South America, avocado seeds are used for dysentery and other gut problems, and have a variety of phenolic compounds that help to prevent gastric ulcers, and bacterial and viral diseases. They even contain a flavonol that specifically prevents tumor growth, which is why avocado seed powder has been studied in rats with cancer.
Avocado seed oil can also increase collagen formation, helping to keep your joints supple and your skin moist, young and wrinkle free, along with bringing shimmer to your hair.
Avocado seed extract studies also show that the seed can lower blood glucose and helps you lose weight, and in QiGong Medicine, avocado seed are considered to be very high in Qi energy. They're slightly bitter when you eat them solo, but when you drop them into your blended smoothie, you won't notice any bitter taste.
3. Broccoli Stems
If you want more broccoli for your buck, then don't throw away those stems! Broccoli stems have a fantastic mild sweet flavor and are much higher in fiber than the florets (the other green part of the broccoli). You can also toss in the broccoli stem leaves, which are actually a richer source of beta-carotene than the stem or the florets.
Although broccoli's florets are indeed rich in B-complex vitamins and minerals, the stem contains other compounds you don't get in the florets, which can help protect from certain types of cancer and improve immunity. And tossing the stems into a blender is much more pleasant than gnawing them whole.
4. Flax Seeds
Flaxseed's health benefits come from the fact that it's both high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytochemicals called lignans. Just a single tablespoon of ground flax seed contains 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids (including omega-3 fatty acids), 2 grams of fiber and 37 calories – making it a very nutrient dense seed. Flax seed can be used to improve digestive health and relieve constipation, and may also help reduce your risk of heart disease.
However, whole flax seed can pass through your intestine completely undigested, which means you won't get much of these benefits unless you grind or you blend your flax seeds – and this is also why you may see little flax visitors in the toilet after you go poo if you're an avid flax seed cracker or flax seed granola fan.
Sure, you could use a coffee grinder for your flax seeds, but I just toss 'em in the blender along with everything else.
5. Your Supplements
In the video, you'll see me put Capraflex in the blender.
CapraFlex is a bone and joint formula that contains compounds such as glucosamine and chondroiton from type II chicken collagen (from chickens free of growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and insecticides) – as well as whole foods, herbs and enzyme complex that promotes bone healing and digestion, shuts down inflammation, and even has brain-boosting levels of things like turmeric and cherry extract in it.
I take Capraflex when I'm in any hard training phase, but will often throw 5-10 tablets (sometimes along with a handful of amino acid tablets) into my blender to ensure I recover with lightning speed, and get a hefty dose of muscle and bone healing action first thing in the morning. Like I mention in the video above, some of the minerals in Capraflex may also help to bind potentially harmful oxalates in the spinach and kale that I put in my smoothie.
But Doesn't Blending Damage Fiber?
But what about this idea that blending fruits and vegetables somehow damages the fiber?
After all, Dr. Doug McDougall in “The McDougall Plan” shows a chart from the journal of Lancet that demonstrates how fiber is damaged when you blend. In this instance, when an apple is blended, it caused the blood sugar and insulin response to that apple to rapidly rise (higher than if the apple had been eaten whole), and then experience a roller-coaster ride top to lower levels. This happened to an even greater extent when the apple was juiced.
The blood sugar response is an easy fix. Like I mentioned earlier: chew your smoothie. And for heaven's sake, don't make “fruit smoothies”. I personally consider fruit to be nature's dessert, and consume the equivalent of one piece of fresh, raw fruit about once every 2 days (typically in the form on a slightly unripe pear or banana tossed into my smoothie).
Regarding the damage to the fiber – the fact is that you actually want to damage the fiber. Between your teeth and the acid in your stomach, there's quite a bit of fiber “damage” happening when you consume fruits and vegetables, and the use of a blender is simply initiating that process by pre-digesting some of your food for you.
The primary difference between a human cell and a plant cell is that rather than just having a permeable membrane, a plant has a protective cell wall outside its membrane, and that wall is made of cellulose. Cellulose is a basically a chain of glucose molecules linked together in a tough and rigid wire mesh pattern. It's what stiffens the stems of plants and helps leaves to spread out and face the sun. The extremely rigid areas of greens, such as the spine of kale and collard, are also rich in calcium and other minerals, which are basically locked inside the cellulose.
By blending, you break up these rigid cellulose chains into small, more easily digestible and absorbable materials, and also increase nutrient and mineral availability. This is why my favorite button to push on the OMNI Blender is the big “60” button. It pulverizes the fiber for 30 seconds, automatically slows down briefly to re-mix, then speeds up again to put the finishing touches on that cellulose.
So go ahead – damage that fiber. Blend. Your body will thank you.
Do you have questions about these 7 big benefits of blending or the 5 shocking but healthy foods you can safely put into your blender? Do you have your own blender recipes to share? Simply leave your comments below, and be sure to check out the amazing OMNI Blender!