Can Smoothies be Healthy?
Updated: Feb 29, 2020
The smoothie culture has been around for a while and it is not about to go away any time soon. And there is a reason for this - smoothies are healthy, right?
It is true that smoothies are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other goodies that researchers have yet to discover. But, made without proper care, they can be the reason for the daily sugar roller coaster that zaps you of energy.
When you Google for a healthy breakfast smoothie recipe you will most likely find one containing a mix of banana, berries and apple juice, or some tropical fruit with banana and orange juice. Sounds delicious, right?
The main issue with these type of smoothies is that they focus on fruit which make them extremely high in sugar. Don't get me wrong, fruit is fine when eaten whole, but when broken down in a smoothie, the sugar is absorbed very quickly by your body and you will get that sugar kick, and the inevitable sugar low. The roller coaster starts...
Another reason is that there is often very little protein and healthy fats in these smoothies. Protein is the component that slows down your body's absorption of sugar. It also makes you fuller for longer. The healthy fat is needed for the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
However, smoothies do have a place. In fact, I start most mornings with a green smoothie for breakfast. It has become a routine in my household that I make a big batch, split it into different sized servings for every member of the family. For me, a green smoothie is one of my favourite ways to ensure that we get at least 7 servings of vegetables and fruits every day.
Although I say green smoothie, it doesn't really look that green - it's more of a darker green/purple colour and may not look all that appetising. By saying green I mean that it is based on vegetables, with the addition of some berries & fruit.
How to make a Healthy Smoothie
Every smoothie should, in my opinion, be based around vegetables, and then made sweeter with the aid of fruit & berries. In order to make it a complete meal there is also a need for protein and healthy fats.
My basic recipe normally looks like this:
70% green leafy vegetables, eg frozen spinach plus some fresh kale
A handful of dark berries, eg blueberries, blackberries
1/2 ripe banana for sweetness
1/2 small apple or any other fruit I may have
1/2 tbsp almond butter, for healthy fats and protein
1 scoop of protein powder (I normally use pea protein or organic whey protein)
Chia seeds / flax seeds, about 1 tbsp, for healthy fats
Oat milk / almond milk / water
For a bit of freshness you can add some lemon or lime juice
Start by filling your container with the green leafy vegetables and a splash of water and blend. Then add your other goodies and blend again. This will ensure that your harsher green vegetables (eg. kale) is properly broken down which will make the texture smoother. It will also make room for all the other ingredients. Try to use organic ingredients, or think Clean 15 and Dirty 12.
Switch it up
This is important for most things in life. Doing the same thing day in and day out can be boring. Try different flavour combinations by varying the vegetables, fruits and berries. By adding diversity to your food choices you will also keep your friendly gut microbes happy.
Also, use a spoon and 'eat' your smoothie. Digestion starts in the mouth with the salivary enzymes breaking down the simple carbohydrates. This also activates the rest of the digestive system and you will feel that you have had a proper meal.
Ideally, smoothies should be replacing a meal. Far too often I see clients adding a healthy smoothie to everything else they eat which makes them overeat. Of course, this depends on the size of the serving, but from my experience it is really hard to make a small smoothie unless you split it up into many servings.
Hope this helps. Keep well!
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