Are the Smoothies You Make Helping you or Harming you?
Smoothies and smoothie bowls are a big deal nowadays! You can’t go to a certain part of town and not see a smoothie/juice bar. They are easy for those mornings when your are in a rush and they can also be packed with a powerful punch if you make them the right way. I have been asked in the past “Are smoothies really healthy?” My answer is always the same, “They can be, it just depends on what ingredients you use.” Most smoothies, especially popular fruit-based ones that I’ve seen shared on Pinterest, can easily be increased to almost 50g of sugar in each recipe. That’s entirely too much sugar in one serving. Not to mention, the sugar usually isn’t balanced with the amount of protein, fiber, vegetables ( leafy greens), and healthy fats that it should have. And if you are a fan of smoothie bowls my goodness that could be possibly double the sugar!!
Common Ways Your Smoothie Can Harm Your Health
High in Sugar
Smoothies that you typically get from your local restaurants and juice bars have the potential to be loaded with extra sugar so that they can “taste good”. Fruits like mango, pineapple and banana are naturally high in sugar, and can sometimes be used so that you don’t taste the green flavor in the smoothies. Instead of using the sweeter fruits as your base try using the antioxidant-rich berries for the same great flavor but with less sugar content. Some smoothies even contain “fresh fruit juice” which is also high in sugar. I dare you to substitute the juice you typically would use for a plant based milk that is full of healthy fats or even water. Using ingredients like zucchini, cucumbers, carrots and avocado are also great additions to any smoothie that is low in sugar.
Small Amount of Greens
Are you one that has a hard time with getting in your greens? A smoothie is a great way to get in about 2-3 servings of vegetables. Not only that, but it increases the fiber that you need daily. You want your vegetable to fruit ratio to be 3:1. That could be 2 handfuls of spinach, 1 handful of kale and 1 cup of fresh or frozen fruit. Most smoothies that you get have a higher ratio of fruit than it does vegetables. This is something you should seriously look into when you are getting them from the local juice bar. Green leafy vegetables, are incredibly nutrient dense, and should be the base of every smoothie you order. You can also add in a green powder mix, but nothing can beat the nutrients of fresh, simple super foods like spinach and kale. They help fight cancer, boost your immunity, balance hormones, reduce inflammation, and they pack plenty of fiber to help you feel fuller, longer.
Bigger isn’t Always Better
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to smoothies, especially if you’re enjoying a smoothie as a snack in between your meals. A smaller serving size may be the best option based off of your food and nutrition intake that day. Especially if it is protein-rich with ingredients like peanut butter and almond butter. Do you include super foods like spirulina or chlorella in your smoothies? If that is the case no need to add in the extra protein because these super foods are packed with plant based protein.
Green smoothies can serve as powerhouses for your health when you look at their nutrient density, and they can be a beautiful, balanced blend of nutrients if everything is aligned the right way. Thanks to their high fiber content, they support a healthy, efficient, and regular digestive system. Since they’re blended, they’re ultimately easier on the digestive system to process as well.
Equation to Follow when making your smoothies:
I found this equation from Registered Dietitian Nutritionist McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN. It is the perfect equation to guide you when making smoothies and smoothie bowls! “Whether you’re enjoying your smoothie as a meal or a snack, it can be both delicious and satisfying — without processed additives. Think of the following “equations” as a guide when you’re building a healthy smoothie at home.”
If you’re making a smoothie to serve as a meal
3 parts greens + 1 part fruit + 1 citrus + 1 part protein + 1 part healthy fat + and/or 1 part carbohydrate addition to fruit (+ optional superfood toppings) + liquid to your desired texture
3 handfuls spinach + ½ banana + juice of ½ lemon + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 2 tablespoons of almond butter + 2 tablespoons rolled oats + almond milk to your desired texture
If you’re making a smoothie as a snack
2 parts greens + 1 part fruit + 1 citrus + 1 part protein OR healthy fat (+ optional superfood toppings) + liquid to your desired texture
1 handful spinach + ½ banana + juice of ½ lemon + scoop of almond butter + almond milk to your desired texture
With all of this being said, once you start to use this formula you will find that over time it becomes easier for you. I hope that this post has helped someone. Let me know in the comments below your thoughts!
Thank you for stopping by!!!