Yes, I know green smoothies are all the rage right now, and people everywhere are vouching about their magical powers…..but are those green smoothies really as healthy as they are made out to be?
Well, to that question I say yes and no.
As always, it depends on the individual and most importantly it depends on what you put into them.
When it comes to the individual, it depends on how efficient your blood sugar management is. Those people who crash quickly after eating something sweet, or rely on sweet things to give them energy, then a green smoothie, or at least a green smoothie made the wrong way is a recipe for disaster. If you are one of these people you will soon find yourself famished and fatigued not long after having a green smoothie.
However with the right combination of ingredients, you to can start to enjoy your green, or any colour for that matter, smoothie again. If you are having your green smoothie for breakfast, I always suggest having a boiled egg with it to boost the protein content of the meal. Again, this will help to balance out the nutritional profile of the meal with the healthy fat and protein from the egg, normalise blood sugar and will leave you filling fuller for longer
My main concern about green smoothies is that they are mainly filled with fruit with a couple of kale or spinach leaves thrown in to get desired green colour. Sure, they taste great when they are mainly made of fruit, but the sugar content is just way too high. Green or not, juices cause a massive spike in blood sugar levels that sets off the insulin cascade that promotes weight gain and re-bound low blood sugar and fatigue.
Learning the right combination of ingredients is the secret to a healthy green smoothie.
Your Weapon of Choice
The nutritional profile of your smoothie also depends on how you are making it. Are you using a juicer and tossing out the pulp? When we toss out the pulp we lose not only important fibre which helps to keep our bowels regular, feeds the beneficial bacteria in our gut and keeps us full, it also slows down the influx of natural sugars found in the juice into our blood stream.
Are you using an extractor such as a Nutribullet (my personal favourite) or a Vitamix. By using an extractor blender you are keeping the pulp in the juice, plus you can add to it harder ingredients such as nuts and seeds to boost the nutritional profile of the smoothie.
Vital Steps to a Healthy Green Smoothie
• Use mainly vegetables, and just a little bit of fruit. 70-80% vegetables is a good guideline to work with. By using mainly vegetables you are keeping the sugar content down, whilst still maximising nutrients.
• Choose low sugar fruits such as berries, lemon, lime or green apple. We still want our smoothies to taste nice, and sometimes too much greenery can be a little harsh on the taste buds. Lighten the load with some low sugar fruits to balance the flavour.
• Add some protein – such as almonds, cashews or a plant based protein powder (nothing against whey protein, they just don’t blend all that well in vegetable based smoothies)
• Add some fat – coconut oil or avocado is the way to go here. Add a tsp of coconut oil or ¼ of an avocado. The addition of fat to your juice is essential to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
• Liquid Base – When juicing with an extractor that keeps the pulp we can’t forget to add a liquid base to save you from having the smoothie with a spoon instead of a straw. Choose from good ol’ water, coconut water (great for electrolyte replacement), kefir water (loaded with probiotics for top to toe health) or almond milk or coconut milk for a creamy spin on your smoothie.
• Boosters – super charge your smoothie with a few extra’s to suit your individual needs.
– Pineapple for digestive enzymes
– Ginger for a circulation booster
– Maca for energy
– Macqui, lacuma, acai or cacao for an antioxidant boost
– Slippery elm power or aloe vera juice for a little TLC for your digestive system
– Turmeric for it’s anti-inflammatory actions
By including the protein and fat into your smoothie we are making a balanced meal that includes all the macro-nutrients – fat, protein and carbohydrates. When we include all three macro-nutrients into our meals, our bodies are nourished and satisfied. We will stay fuller for longer, not just because our blood sugar is balanced, but also because our bodies have the nutrients that it needs.
Oh, and don’t forget to swish your smoothie around your mouth for a few moments. This helps to stimulate reflex action between your brain and stomach to get your digestive enzymes flowing to digest the incoming food. Even though it is a puree, don’t chug it down, your body still needs to digest it.
Why don’t you jump over to the recipe section to find some great smoothie recipes to get you started.