What Juice and Smoothie Lovers Need to Know!

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Green smoothies, juicing, and fruit and veggie drinks of all kinds have become quite the rage in recent years. A Google search will turn up millions of hits, whole websites dedicated to green drinks and claiming all kinds of health results from acne relief to weight loss. Many celebrities have even jumped on the liquid green bandwagon.

I couldn’t be happier. Long before the green drink revolution, and to this day, I have been drinking blended greens several times a week as well as recommending the habit to patients. Why? It’s a fantastic, easy way to get a whole bunch of fresh, nutrient-packed, fiber-filled veggies and fruits in your diet every day.

Raw Food Benefits

Blending and Juicing Recipes

If you go online you can find every variation on a theme – thousands of recipes. My favorite ingredients rotate among kale, Swiss chard, parsley, cilantro, celery, broccoli, spinach, beets and beet greens, along with fresh ginger, pomegranate, and lemon. I like to vary the ingredients so as not to overdo it with one particular item or another. I’ll explain why in a moment. Consuming blended or juiced fresh greens with small amounts of fruit provides your body with an array of antioxidant flavonoids and carotenoids and stellar minerals – all good for your heart and arteries.

Here are some of my favorite recipes:

Juicing vs. Blending

I like blending – as opposed to juicing – veggies and fruit because juicing takes the fiber out, whereas blending leaves the fiber in, which helps with detoxification and cleansing of the intestines. I have bought every blender and juicer on the market. I finally found a durable machine at a good price that works great and lasts. It’s a Cuisinart SmartPower 7-Speed Electronic Blender.

When making blends, I’ll add pure coconut water and often throw in one or two small servings of fruit for a tad of sweetness, such as some kiwi and berries. I particularly like kiwi fruit because it enhances health-promoting bacteria in the gut, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, and the coconut water provides a healthy liquid base high in potassium.

All this being said, juicing still offers all the other, non-fiber-related benefits of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables – just make sure to eat some nuts, seeds or cheese at the same time to help slow digestion down with protein and fat.

Oxalates and Kidney Stones

From time to time I have seen warnings from one dietary authority or another about the danger of consuming too many green leafy veggies because of the danger of forming kidney stones. The often maligned perpetrator is oxalate, a salt form of oxalic acid that binds up with calcium and other minerals to crystalize and form stones. Oxalate is found in all plant foods; spinach is the highest in oxalate. However, researchers do not believe that eating any specific food causes stones in people who are not otherwise susceptible.

That’s important to keep in mind. For individuals prone to form stones, exercising some caution may save a lot of agony. The prudent advice, if you are such a person, is to reduce your intake of dietary oxalates. As a cardiologist, this is the cholesterol story as well; your body naturally produces cholesterol.

Stone formers also need to be careful about calcium intake. Four out of five kidney stones involve calcium. Certainly watch your coffee, caffeinated-beverage, and alcohol consumption, as overconsumption has the potential to cause dehydration. People who do not drink enough fluids in the first place may also be at higher risk due to the fact that their urine becomes more concentrated. Therefore, it’s important you stay well hydrated – with healthy drinks!

Individuals with a hyperparathyroid condition may also be at higher risk. The parathyroid glands are located in the neck, and regulate the level of calcium in the body. If they produce too much hormone, the calcium level will rise, and increase the risk of stones.

While on the subject of thyroid, it is prudent to mention that cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, turnips, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) are regarded as potentially goitrogenic. That means they contain enzymes that might interfere with the production of thyroid hormones in individuals who have an iodine deficiency. Such interference could result in an enlargement of the thyroid known as a goiter.

Here’s the way I see this issue. The protective anti-cancer properties of the cruciferous vegetable family are well known. Cooking or steaming such veggies reduces their potential thyroid effect. However, if you want to eat or drink them raw, I would follow my general recommendation of using a wide variety of greens, and not just the same thing day-in-and-day-out. That goes for chicken, oatmeal, or a green smoothie. Eating is all about balance and variety, and not overconsuming – whether it is food in general, or one food specifically.

If you have a thyroid condition, be sure to have your doctor check you out periodically.

Green drinks can deliver many health benefits, to be sure. If you back up your green drink habit with a solid anti-inflammatory diet, and stay away from sugar, you are definitely on a good eating path.

And yes, don’t forget to use organic produce whenever possible in your drinks!


© 2015, 2016 HeartMD Institute. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply



    on January 29, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks for this article. I really enjoyed reading it. It was packed full of great info that I can use. My husband and I have a smoothie every day and we attribute our health to them. He has non hodgkins lymphoma since March 2003, and I have metabolic syndrome (survived a massive heart attack in Aug 2006, and have diabetes). We both are doing very well and attribute that to our whole food plant based diet. It’s really great to see a medical doctor touting the benefits of smoothies and healthy eating. Thanks for all you’re doing to get the word out. You’re making a difference!

  2. David haddon

    on January 30, 2015 at 5:47 am

    A good article, but Doctor Sinatra, you didn’t make very clear just what your first rule was. i guess it was to mix up the vegies and fruits, but that was not made clear.

  3. Stuart Small

    on January 31, 2015 at 1:30 am

    Hi, Follow you all the time! Hope all goes well!! Best to you always! BWell! Stuart

  4. Cindy Amend

    on February 5, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    I use a Vitamix. Since you are actually not getting rid of the fiber, is this okay rather than blending? I won’t use a Cuisinart since my coffee pot caught on fire while not turned on and the company didn’t care.

  5. Nichalus Michael

    on February 19, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Has anyone heard that the Vitamix Tritan containers tha are supposed to be BPA free, have actually been found to be leaching estrogen mimicking chemicals? Plus the seals inside the blade assembly bearing seem to be shredding black flakes of some foreign matter when into water. There are videos on youtube showing this. The material is apparently made of teflon from the bearings inside the blade assembly. I called vitamix about this and they acknowledged that they are aware of the problem but have not yet come up with a solution or issued a recall. It really is absurd. Apparently all the seals from these high powered blenders are know to shred, from Vitamix to Blendtec and Waring. Its not good. People who own these machine should complain.

  6. Peggy Sue

    on October 22, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Nichalus Michael: I would imagine if they COULD fix it they would and most likely they are working to find a solution. The fact that all the companies have similar problems indicates it’s poor design on high speed blenders as a whole. I doubt complaining would make any difference at all, but I would HOPE asking for a refund would get results, even if it’s a pro-rated refund on a faulty product.

    I PERSONALLY thank you for making us all aware of this problem, something the companies should have at least put into the “fine print” of their documentation.

  7. Janet L Maratty

    on December 22, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    What about Coumadin (warfarin) and green smoothies, or even just green veggies?

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