Smoothies are Popular Right Now – But are They Healthy and Should You be Drinking Them?
Fruit/vegetable smoothies can be a big boost to your health if you use the right ingredients. Below is an overview of the scientific literature that sheds light on this tasty topic and also provides tips on how to make smoothies that maximize the benefits.
- Drinking fruit/vegetable smoothies helps you increase your fruit and vegetable intake each day. People who drink fruit/vegetable smoothies average 2 to 3 more servings a day than those who don’t drink smoothies.
- Smoothies provide more vitamins and phyto-nutrients than if you consumed the same foods eaten whole. While not true for every vitamin or mineral, in general blending fruits and vegetables (particularly vegetables) increases significantly the bio-availability of vitamins (especially the B vitamins) and phyto-nutrients (colorful pigments in foods that boost immune function and health).
- You absorb more nutrients from fruits/vegetables when they are blended in a smoothie. Not only does blending make more nutrients available to you , but it also increases your ability to absorb those precious nutrients. In fact absorption of nutrients in blended fruits and vegetables can be 2-4 times greater than the amount absorbed from eating the foods whole for certain vitamins and nutrients.
- Fruits/vegetables smoothies help create healthy gut bacteria that greatly enhances your immune system. Research tells us that the vital nutrients from fruits and vegtables, even when blended, are not destroyed by stomach acids and do make it to the large intestine where they play a major role in creating healthy gut bacteria. Which is where 85% of your immune cells are located.
- By adding parts of fruits/vegetables to a blended smoothie that are not usually eaten (like the seeds and peel of citrus), it makes available to you nutrients that have significant cancer fighting properties. The lignin and other phyto-nutrients found in the peels and seeds of various fruits and vegetables contain powerful cancer fighting properties.
- Using berries in a smoothie does not raise blood sugar levels and provides great phyto-nutrient availability. Berries are naturally low in sugar, high in taste, and high in phyto-nutrients that have healing abilities. Since berries do not cause blood sugars to rise, those with blood sugar problems can get all the health benefits without jeopardizing blood sugar levels.
- Over time some fruit/vegetable smoothies can increase insulin sensitivity. With the exception of apples, fruits used in moderation (particularly bananas and mangos) can actually increase the sensitivity of your cells to insulin offering benefit to those with pre-diabetes or diabetes. However if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, it is better to use more vegetables and limit the fruit in your smoothie to 1 cup to ensure you don’t raise your blood sugar levels. Another option is to just use berries in your smoothies so that you don’t spike your blood sugar levels.
- Adding in as little as 3-4 walnuts, 1 Tbsp. of seeds (like Chia or flax seed) or a small amount of avocado to your smoothies can greatly increase how full you feel and for how long. These ingredients also provide good sources of the very important omega-3 essential fats that most of us don’t get enough of in our diets. The added healthy fats also create a thicker, creamier texture.
- Sip your smoothies slowly and you will feel fuller, longer. Eating and/or drinking more slowly helps to trigger your body’s natural appetite control mechanisms. Research shows that if you sip your smoothie slowly you have the same satiety as if you ate the foods whole. This doesn’t happen if you gulp it down quickly, so slow down, and enjoy.
- Sipping your smoothies using a straw helps to protect your teeth. The acids naturally present in fruits can erode teeth enamel as much as a can of coke! But you can greatly reduce this effect by sipping using a straw because the teeth are not bathed in the liquid, and you will still get all the phyto-nutrient activity that promotes healthy mouth bacteria and dental health.
- The healthiest smoothies use whole, organic foods.Avoid using fruit juices, added sugars, or anything processed as these will cause spikes in your blood sugar. Always use organic ingredients if you can. There are considerably less pesticide residues and also greater nutrient density in organic produce.
Now sip on some greens and go take on your day!