By now, nearly everyone has heard about the benefits of eating greens and drinking green smoothies. Juice and smoothie bars are popping up in every town. Even fast food chains are offering green drinks! But should you jump on the green smoothie train? Are they truly good all that?
Let’s take a look at the benefits of green smoothies first.
Leafy greens are the number one food missing from the Western/Modern diet. They are, however, a critical component for good health. Greens help shave off weight, increase energy, prevent cancer, clear congestion and cleanse the body, among many other health benefits. Incorporating greens on a daily basis will help you have long –lasting, vibrant energy, a better complexion, and ensure you are receiving your daily dose of Vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc. In addition, they are full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.
Leafy greens are best in salads, stir-fry dishes, or steamed greens, but not everyone likes them this way. In fact, many people are intimidated by greens in general, not sure how to shop for them, store them or use them. So if you aren’t eating your greens, you can definitely benefit from a green smoothie. Here’s why:
PRO: YOU GET MORE VEGGIES! If you are not eating enough vegetables and fruits on a daily basis, smoothies can fill in that gap. Green smoothies are simply blended fruits and leafy green vegetables. Drinking one green smoothie equals 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables, more than the average American consumes in a day! By adding in a green smoothie daily, you provide the nutrients needed to cleanse or alkalize your system and give your immune system a healthy boost.
PRO: THEY CAN REDUCE SUGAR CRAVINGS! Adding in more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet will increase your overall health and energy levels. By consuming more nutrients, you might even find you crave less sugar, caffeine and processed foods. Plus, greens are bitter, which is the opposite of sweet. The more bitter foods you get into your cells, the stronger resistance you will have against tempting processed sweets.
PRO: THEY ARE THE BETTER OPTION THAN FAST FOOD, VENDING SNACKS, OR SKIPPING A MEAL. Smoothies can be an ideal breakfast food when time is at a premium in the mornings; or a great boost in the afternoon when you would usually reach for a cup of coffee or a candy bar. If you are headed into the office, take one along for the ride. By swapping out a smoothie for processed food, fast food, or sugary items, you are not only getting more nutrients, but also reducing the inflammatory effects of sugar and processed foods. Just be careful not to consume any food in a stressful situation. Your body will not digest food while stressed.
PRO: THEY ADD A NUTRIENT BOOST TO HELP YOU WITH DISEASE: When you struggle with disease or illness, your digestion may not be up to par to eat a salad or chew some kale. So, by blending your greens, you are getting the benefit without having to do all the chewing work. Most experts still advise, however, to chew your smoothies. Chewing releases enzymes and prepares the stomach for food.
PRO: THEY ARE GREAT SOURCE OF FIBER: Fiber as we know, makes things move in your system. So if you deal with constipation, a green smoothie can help speed things along.
Now, to make the perfect tasting green smoothie start with a ratio of 40% greens to 60% fruits. To make it healthier, swap that and add 60% greens and 40% fruits. You want to work your way to more greens than fruit. Keeping the greens varied will add to the nutritional benefit. Spinach and kale are favorites because these greens are naturally sweeter than others. Other options include: chard, romaine lettuce, arugula, and collard greens. You can also add in fresh green herbs like cilantro, parsley or basil. Fruits can be fresh or frozen. Using a frozen fruit like banana or mango makes the smoothie creamier – a texture most smoothie fans enjoy! Simply combine the ingredients and blend away. When making green smoothies, buy organic fruits and vegetables whenever you can, and be sure to wash all your produce properly before blending.
Before you get blending, let’s talk about some reasons why you shouldn’t jump on the green smoothie train:
CON: YOU BYPASS CHEWING: As mentioned above, chewing starts your digestive process and by skipping this step, you are not releasing the valuable enzymes and information needed for digestion. Yes, smoothies are pre-digested, but if you drink without this step, you may be less satisfied and less full than if you ate your greens, according to Dr. Thomas Campbell, medical director of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, co-author of The China Study and author of The China Study Solution (http://nutritionstudies.org/are-smoothies-good-or-bad). This lack of satiation may cause you to eat more calories throughout the day, not ideal if you are trying to lose weight.
CON: THEY MAY CAUSE A BLOOD SUGAR SPIKE: Drinking your smoothies too quickly
or adding in too much fruit can potentially cause harmful blood sugar spikes, especially in diabetics, so again, make sure to chew your smoothies, and drink slowly. You can also choose lower sugar fruits like berries and green apple for your fruit component, which are lower in sugar, if you are concerned. There is a lot of conflicting information about fruit sugar, but we believe that fruits are beneficial and essential for preventing disease and providing nourishment. For more research and information on fruit sugars, please check out this article by HealthAmbition.com: www.healthambition.com/fruit-bad-scienced-backed-answer
CON: IT IS TOO COLD: From an energetic standpoint, cold foods are not well received by the body. So try not to add too many frozen foods to your smoothies. Personally I like to keep everything at room temperature, then add just a bit of frozen fruit.
So now it is up to you to decide whether or not green smoothies will become a part of your routine. The important thing to take away is that you should be consuming at least 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruits per day to optimize health. If that is difficult for you, then a green smoothie will help you reach that goal! It can also give you a boost of energy to help you stay focused.
I think green smoothies are beneficial in so many ways, but they have to be done right, and probably not as a substitute for every meal. Instead, consider making them part of your meal, or to fill in the gaps where you would usually reach for something less nutritious.
Here are two of my favorite Green Smoothie recipes:
The Blue Banana
1 handful of frozen blue berries
3 leaves of kale
¼ pinky size knob of ginger
The Bright Green
1 handful spinach
3 leaves kale
1 cup frozen pineapple
¼ pinky size knob ginger