When introducing the concept of eating more whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables to patients and clients that I work with at Essence of Health, I’m often asked about Smoothies and smoothie recipes. Smoothies are a great way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet each day, and they are a great way to hydrate especially in the summer months. And if you’re located here in the South like I am, you’ll definitely need something to cool you off.
So today I’m going to share with you those pitfalls that you want to avoid in your smoothies and 3 ingredients that you definitely want to add to your smoothies.
Where we run into trouble with smoothies, is often the additives that we use. If you’re a fan of those premade smoothie packets then you’re likely getting some additional, unnecessary sugar in the form of concentrated fruit juice, sweeteners like agave syrup, brown rice syrup, or honey, and maybe even cane sugar. Commercial smoothie products add these ingredients to make you desire their product more, feeding you with the ingredients that signal joy in your brain, sugar; and to make these products stable in a package. But this excess sugar can sometimes be the equivalent of what you would find in a soft drink or soda, which totally diminishes the healthful gains you were hoping to obtain by drinking a smoothie.
Another pitfall to smoothies is the lack of fiber. Fiber is essential to our health for promoting a healthy gut, assisting with balancing our blood sugar at a healthy level and helping in maintaining a healthy weight by keeping us more full for a longer period of time.
When we blend those fruits and vegetables, we break down those components within the fruits and vegetables that would typically give us a fiber boost. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is still more fiber in a smoothie than you’ll get in a cup of juice or in a processed fruit snack, but you’ll get more fiber by eating a bowl of fruit or vegetables than you would by drinking a smoothie that has been blended down.
But before you give up on enjoying a smoothie as a part of a healthful nutrition plan, let me share with you some healthful ingredients that will give your smoothie a boost to improve your health.
Water - Use water instead of fruit juice, yogurt, or milk in your smoothie. Smoothies can be a good source of healthful hydration. Fruit juice, yogurt, and milk will just increase the calorie content of your smoothie without any additional major health rewards. So use water instead.
Bananas - Use bananas to add a bit of natural sweetness to your smoothie and leave out the agave syrup, honey, and other sweeteners. As we discussed, those sweeteners can contribute to health conditions including weight gain, elevated blood sugar, and other consequences, negating the health benefits of your smoothie, so just leave them out.
Dark Leafy Greens - Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and arugula are great sources of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients, and natural anti-inflammatories. Smoothies are a great way to get some extra greens into your diet.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you reach for your blender for a fresh smoothie. Avoid added sugars, use water for your base, sweeten naturally with fresh or frozen fruit like bananas, and get a nutrient boost with dark leafy greens.
The Essence of Health is in You!