I am going to use avocado versus olive oil as an example as they are both sources of ‘healthy/good’ fats and a whole orange versus orange juice as they are both good sources of vitamin C. However, I could have used any fruit against its fruit juice counterpart or any whole food versus its processed equivalent and the same would be true.
Let’s start with half an avocado versus a tablespoon of olive oil.
Both contain 125 calories.
Both contain similar fat content (12g v 14g respectively), and the fat is of the healthiest kind (monounsaturated).
However, where they differ and the reason why you should always choose the whole food option is their fibre and nutrient content.
Half an avocado contains 5g fibre. A tbsp olive oil contains 0g.
Half an avocado contains at least 10% (if not more) of our daily recommended intake of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. A tbsp of olive oil contains no significant vitamins and or minerals.
When whole foods are processed and turned into oils, liquids, juices etc they 1) lose their fibre content and 2) lose much of their nutrients.
Why is fibre so good?
Well if you have read my instagram posts or blog posts that highlight this then here is the quick rundown. Fibre:
- Makes us fill fuller for longer. This may reduce our calorie intake, stop us overeating, and or help us to sustain weight loss.
- Reduces blood sugar level and insulin levels.
- Releases energy slower. It slows the impact of sugar (see above).
- Improves our gut health. Those bowel movements should be healthier and more regular.
The other thing to consider when were talking about oils is that it is easy to rack up the calories. Imagine you make a salad and cook some chicken in oil to go into your salad, then drizzle the salad with more oil. That’s another 200-300 calories added to your meal.
I am not saying don’t use olive oil or other cooking oils. I mean olive oil, coconut oil, nut oil etc all contain ‘good’ fats and I regularly use them myself. But if you are trying to increase your intake of calories and or ‘healthy’ fats then whole foods are a far better option for the reasons stated above.
Orange versus Orange juice
Just to highlight that it isn’t just the case with fats. Lets use orange as a second example.
1 whole orange contains the following:
15g carbs (3g fibre and 12g sugar)
62 calories and is high in vitamin C (contains our full daily recommended quota)
A glass of orange juice contains:
26 carbs (less than a gram is fibre, 21g are sugar!). Your daily allowance of sugar should be under 25-30g.
111 calories and about 200% of your daily vitamin C requirements.
So not only has orange juice lost nearly all the fibre contained within the whole fruit, which means it has a much higher GI and GL, it also has nearly double the calories.
If you haven’t already I would suggest you read this post to understand why sugar is something you should reduce from your daily intake.
I completely understand it is a struggle for some people to get fruit and veg into their diet, especially the recommended amounts, which is why they try to do so via fruit juices.
There is a better way
Buy whole fruit or frozen fruit and veg and blend your own smoothies. When blending fruit and veg to make a smoothie the fibre remains and so will most of the nutrients. If you are making it yourself you also know that there is no added sugar (many smoothie bars add syrups). Just be aware of the natural sugar content as some fruits are extremely high in sugar and it is much easier to consume large amounts this way. Check out my post about fruit to see which are the best to use to reduce your calorie and sugar intake when making your own smoothie.