Is there anybody in the world who does not know about smoothies? It has become such a popular drink. It is quite the craze in the health conscious population. It is well-known in the athletic arena. Weight lifters are strong proponents of protein rich smoothies. Celebrities and other popular personnel are frequently pictured with their smoothies in hand. It therefore would be easy to conclude that this must be something very good for us. But is all as it seems? Is your smoothie healthy?
Let’s find out.
What is a smoothie?
A smoothie is a thick drink made up primarily of fruits and or vegetables blended together in a liquid base. The liquid is usually milk (plant based), coconut water or just plain water.
Fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are necessary for maintaining good health. They are also a great source of fiber. You can therefore start to see why the smoothie has become so popular.
The smoothie has hit the scene as a star with regard to nutrition and health. It is used as a meal replacement for persons on weight loss programmes. It is consumed as a means of increasing the vitamin and minerals needed by the body to maintain good health. Statistics show that most persons do not consume the daily requirement of 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables and so drinking a smoothie is one method that they use to increase their intake .
For the person who does not like to eat, (yes, those people actually exist), drinking a fruit smoothie or vegetable smoothie is an easy way to get the nutrition that the body needs.
Also, there are some persons who have difficulty chewing for one reason or another. Maybe they have problems with their teeth, or maybe they had a stroke. For them, a smoothie is a way they can obtain the necessary nutrients easily.
How can your smoothie not be healthy?
The smoothie is sounding all good so far but unfortunately, if you are not careful, it can ruin your health.
Here are some ways.
Too Much Sugar
Fruit is a major ingredient in smoothies and you know what fruit breaks down to form, don’t you? That’s right. Sugar. You have to keep that in mind. Hence, a diabetic would have to be very careful with one of these drinks.
If that’s all we had to worry about…we wouldn’t have to worry.
However, because smoothies are so popular, there are many places now that have it on their menu. From fast food joints to restaurants to sidewalk shops. Here is where danger might lie. When you go out to buy a smoothie, you have to be extra careful because many of the establishments selling this drink will put additional sweeteners in. Yep. Lots of sugar to enhance the sweetness of the drink. You might find that the sugar content in one smoothie surpasses the recommended sugar allowance for one entire day.
Find out how much is too much sugar.
The high caloric content is again related to the high sugar content in some of these smoothies. This might be a nightmare for those of you who are trying to lose weight. You might think you are decreasing your caloric intake by substituting a smoothie for a meal. But you would be surprised to know that the smoothie might have more calories that the meal you substituted.
Let’s say for example, that you would normally eat a breakfast of maybe a slice of wholewheat toast, oatmeal and fruit. This is a filling and wholesome breakfast. But you want to lose weight so you decide to skip breakfast and substitute it with a smoothie you bought at the supermarket. When you look at the ingredients, you might see all sorts of high fat, high sugar items resulting in a high calorie drink; way higher than the caloric value of the breakfast you skipped. Some smoothies even have ice cream in them. Can you imagine that! Definitely not a great way to try to lose weight.
Whole fruits or not?
We know that fruits provide tons of vitamins, minerals and fiber. But what if it is not real, whole fruits that are used in the smoothie but instead fruit concentrate is used. That word “concentrate” just jumps out at us. It shouts “sugar” doesn’t it? Also, a large proportion of the fiber in some of these commercial smoothies comes from refined fibers like dextrin and inulin. That’s also a concern, as processed fibers probably do not have the same benefits as naturally fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
I will take this opportunity to add that while smoothies made out of whole fruits and vegetables is no doubt very good for you, it is better still if you eat these fruits and vegetables whole to get your recommended daily allowance.
Again you will see that the main cause of smoothies being unhealthy is high sugar content. This pops up again with regard to serving size.
So maybe you have decided that you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle and one of the changes you want to make is to cut down on your sugar consumption. You pick up one of those 20 ounce bottle of pre-made smoothies from the supermarket shelf and carefully examine the nutritional label. You see where it says 150 calories and 16 grams of sugar. You think “Great, that’s not so bad” You even consider using it as a meal substitute in your effort to lose weight.
So you buy a few, go home and down an entire bottle in one go. Delicious, nutritious and healthy, you think. But what you don’t realize is that the 150 calories and 16 grams of sugar is per serving and a serving is 8 ounces. So what you have consumed in drinking the whole bottle is in fact 375 calories and 40 grams of sugar; way over the recommended 25 grams per day if you are female and over the recommended 36 grams per day if you are male.
Where is the balance?
A balanced diet consists of carbohydrate, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. If you are in the habit of tossing some fruits into a blender with some ice and water and using this as a meal substitute, can you see how you are robbing yourself of good nutrition? Everyone will agree that fruit is very good for you, but fruit by itself does not provide a balanced meal.
Another problem is that because such a smoothie is lacking in protein and fat, you will tend to become hungry very quickly. And you know what that will lead to. Yes…. Excessive snacking; grabbing the first junk food in your reach; basically derailing your efforts of a healthy diet.
Be safe. Make your own.
There is a big push in the world today about the health benefits of fruit and or vegetable smoothies. It is true that smoothies can be very healthy, but you have to be very cautious of those that you buy outside. They might not be healthy at all. As a matter of fact, their high sugar content might be detrimental to your health.
But you don’t have to give up on something that has the potential to be of great benefit to your health. You simply need to make your own. That way you will know exactly what and how much you have put into making your drink.
Making a smoothie is easy.
Fresh or frozen fruits of your choice, liquid base, a few nuts and seeds of your choice (eg. chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin seed) which provides protein and fats to keep you feeling fuller longer. Blend them all together and enjoy.
Do you enjoy making delicious, healthy smoothies? Please share your recipes with us in the comments section below.