Are Smoothies Healthy?
Many of us lead busy lives, so healthy, convenient and tasty foods are essential. Smoothies tick these boxes absolutely perfectly – they can be made in minutes, are full of variety, are densely-packed with vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients and can be stored in a bottle and taken with you anywhere. They are also common in diets designed to help people lose weight. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of smoothies below.
So, how healthy are smoothies?
The difference between an unhealthy and a healthy smoothie mostly depends on the quantity and quality of the ingredients used. Added sugar can reduce the nutrient density of smoothies, so it’s usually best to make your own rather than buying commercially prepared smoothies – this way you have more control over what goes in them.
Protein powder, nut butter, flavoured yoghurt, non-dairy milk, maple syrup and honey are typically used to add sweetness to smoothies, but they all contain sugar, so you’ll need to use these in moderation if you make smoothies regularly. Top tip: if you are using these ingredients to add sweetness, try whole fruits such as banana instead.
What are the best ingredients to use in a smoothie?
If you’re wanting to feel full for longer and cut out unhealthy snacks, you need to up your protein intake. Protein-rich smoothie ingredients include plain milk or yoghurt, tofu, natural peanut butter and lentils.
Fibre, which is found mainly in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, is perhaps best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. Other benefits of fibre include lowering cholesterol levels and maintaining or achieving a healthy weight. While many of the ingredients typically included in a smoothie will contain fibre, you can increase your intake even more by incorporating avocado, kale, ground flaxseed and almond butter.
Fruits and vegetables to include
Many fruits have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and are natural sources of vitamin C and folic acid, which support the absorption of iron and the maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth, among a range of other benefits. Popular options include banana, berries, peach, apple, mango and pineapple.
To ensure the sugar intake of your smoothie isn’t too high, balance your fruits by adding dark leafy greens like kale, spinach or Swiss chard, which provide calcium, fibre and vitamins A, C and K. Other popular veggies for smoothies include cucumber, carrots, beetroot and cauliflower.
Ultimately, smoothies can be very healthy for you if you take the time to consider what ingredients are used. However, if you’re hoping to lose weight, remember that they should be incorporated as part of a balanced diet and exercise regime, helping to keep your hunger levels in check and boosting your fibre and protein intake.