Hello there soon-to-be smoothie lover!
Freshly pressed and blended or bottled, smoothies are red hot. You may have seen photos of celebs spotted after their sweat sesh in the gym holding a mason jar filled with green smoothie or your co-worker downing a glass and wondering why would any one drink that—ugh, greens. The “healthy eating” craze just got crazier!
But, can you blame them? With health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other chronic conditions on the rise, it seems like people will do just about anything for their health to be in tip-top condition.
We’ve all heard it, “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”, right? Wrong! There is no perfect diet for everyone but there are a lot of wrong ones—and you’ve got to know which is which.
In the crowded sea of fad diets and healthy eating tips and tricks, green smoothies are among some of the most popular must-eat/must-drink nutritional powerhouses on the market. Some people even go an extra mile and make their own from fresh fruits and veggies. Of course, eating a variety of foods is still one of the most important factors to consider for a nutritionally-balanced diet but with the right ingredients, these blended greens can surely put up a good fight for the “healthiest of them all” title that all these healthy eating regimes seem to compete for.
Smoothies vs. Shakes
So what are smoothies, really? And how are they different from shakes? Why can’t we just call them green shakes instead of green smoothies?
A smoothie is typically made with fruit—frozen fruit, fresh fruits, fruit juice, etc. It’s not a dairy affair but more of a fruit party, actually. While shakes, on the other hand, is a dairy-based treat usually made of milk, ice cream or both. The thickness of a smoothie or a milkshake does not change the name of the drink. As long as you can suck it up with a straw, it’s either a smoothie or a shake. When you start to need a spoon, then it becomes an ice cream or a sorbet.
What comes first to your mind when you hear the word vegetable? You probably pictured a green vegetable—a broccoli, maybe?
Even though there are other vegetables that are not green in color you probably thought of a green veggie. It may be because the color green somehow signifies good health. See that health bar when you play a video game? It’s green when your character is still “healthy” or alive. You get the point.
Now that makes sense! Since smoothies are typically made using fruits, green smoothies are “green” smoothies because they are mostly made of veggies—the green ones, usually.
But, why not call them veggie smoothies instead?
Sure, you can call it veggie smoothie or vegetable smoothie or whatever floats your boat (really), but for some reason “green smoothie” fits right. Its simplicity is quite catchy, don’t you think?
A lot of people are going on a green smoothie rampage in hopes of keeping the doctor away and the stubborn weight gain at bay—two things that are almost impossible not to happen in a typical sugar- and salt-laden diet that most people have.
But why smoothies? Why not eat real vegetables?
Eating fresh vegetables instead of blended ones sounds ideal. But in this fast-paced life filled with deadlines and demands, convenience is everything. Not everyone has the time to eat home-cooked meals, let alone sit down and eat 3 servings of vegetables every day. And when you’re trying to be a “responsible” adult—taking care of your health by avoiding fast foods and opting for healthy food choices, you try (force yourself) to do the right thing: you eat vegetables.
World Health Organization (WHO)/ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommends a minimum of 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day to prevent several micronutrient deficiencies and chronic diseases.
400 grams, wow!
If you’re not really a veggie fan then that may sound a lot. How do you include them in your diet—without choking? Enter green smoothies. A smoothie is probably the ultimate convenience food. You don’t even have to chew it. Still not convinced green smoothies are worth a try? Here are some more reasons why you should be on your way to buying a blender right now:
- You can up your fruit and vegetable consumption
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 16 million (1.0%) disability adjusted life years or DALYS (measure of the potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability) and 1.7 million (2.8%) of deaths worldwide are attributed to low fruit and vegetable intake. It is also accounted for around 14% of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, 11% of ischemic heart disease deaths, and about 9% of deaths due to stroke globally.
When it comes to numbers (and not just numbers, I mean numbers pertaining to diseases and even deaths—yikes!) from a reputable source it’s really convincing to do what you’ve got to do in order not to, you know, contribute to these numbers. Green smoothies promise weight loss and loads of nutrients all in a single, gulpable serving. Drinking them makes it easier to get more fruits and vegetable into your diet, or that of your family.
- Green smoothie makes a good post-workout meal
Blending breaks down the hard-to-digest plant cell walls and improves their digestibility, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients in your smoothie more easily. This is one of the reasons why a smoothie makes a perfect post-workout meal.
Your body uses stored energy in your muscles to power through your workout. It’s very important that you replenish the nutrients lost during your sweat sesh to maximize its health benefits. It is recommended to get a combination of carbohydrates and protein immediately into your body as this gives your muscles the ability to replenish glycogen (the stored energy you used) and allows them to rebuild and repair as they recover.
Smoothies are rehydrating and loaded with nutrients that can be easily absorbed by your body. Not to mention, they are refreshing, too!
- You get more fiber
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb.
It is food mainly in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains and is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But foods containing fiber can provide other health benefits such as reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease and lowering your cholesterol and sugar levels. It also aids in weight loss. Eating fiber-rich foods can make a meal feel larger so you stay “feeling full” for a longer period of time.
- No need to add the big “C” in your already complicated life
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012. Annual cancer cases are expected to rise from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next two decades.
How not to add to these numbers?
Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against cancer-causing free radicals. In general, fruits and vegetables are chock-full of nutrients and antioxidants that are essential for optimum health, but not all foods are created equal. Some fruits and vegetables stand out in terms of antioxidant concentration as well as antioxidant capacity per serving size more than others. Among other fruits, cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries ranked highest while beans, artichokes, and Russet potatoes top other vegetables.
- You can lose weight
How do you distinguish a fad diet from a diet that really works? Well, a lot of fad diets and weight loss programs promise rapid weight loss—which can be great, only if they don’t leave you starving and depressed. Weight loss is a journey. You didn’t pack on those extra pounds overnight so don’t expect that you’ll shed them off quickly.
Permanent weight loss can be dragging but what makes it worth the wait is the fact that it is permanent. Fad diets claim that they know a “shortcut” to weight loss. The truth is: there are no shortcuts. The shortcut they will share with you often leads to starvation. Yes, you will lose weight and yes, it will be fast, but pretty soon the weight you lost will catch up and you will find yourself back to square one. You don’t want that. No one wants that.
Green smoothies are mostly made of vegetables. And we all know that vegetables are one of your weight loss BFFs. With the right combination of ingredients, green smoothies may be the key to having the hot bod you’ve always wanted.
DIY Green Smoothies
Are you ready to make your way to rich green smoothie goodness?
What blender to use
What you’ll need is a blender and a little amount of patience. If you’re a grab-and-go type of eater—oftentimes falling into takeaway traps and wants to take baby steps towards healthy eating, making smoothies is a good start. It should take about 5 minutes to prepare. So try to sit back and relax while you let your blender do the job.
If you’re always on the run but doesn’t want to buy bottled smoothies, you may want to buy a blender that blends fast so you won’t feel as if making smoothies robs you off of your precious time. But this kind of blender is a bit pricey. In making smoothies, it doesn’t really matter what kind of blender you use as long as it serves its purpose. A blender that effectively blends your green smoothie ingredients is a good blender.
The ingredients that you will use in making your own smoothies are pretty obvious. Fruits and vegetables are must-haves in your smoothie business. Some of the green smoothie essentials that you need are kale, spinach, romaine, collards, non-fat milk, coconut milk, coconut water, almond milk, banana, mango, berries, apple, grapes, and avocado.
You can add other fruits and vegetables, too! No doubt they are chock-full of nutrients so don’t be scared. Experiment all you want! The smoothie that you make is only as effective as the ingredients you use. Substitution is the key. Do not be afraid to try new things.
Yes, it can taste terrible. But, hey at least you can learn something from it. After all, a mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn anything from it. Most of the oh-so-good smoothie recipes you see on the Internet stem from brave attempts of making different fruit and vegetable combinations work. You bet most of them taste beyond terrible, but a little tweak on the ingredients can make a big difference.
You may think that making a smoothie is as simple as putting all the ingredients in your blender. You’re right! It’s as simple as that! But if you want to get the best out of your nutrient-packed smoothies (of course you do!), you may want to consider doing them the proper way.
Start by blending 2 cups of leafy greens and 2 cups of liquid base together. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to use non-fat milk as your liquid base instead of coconut milk. Or better yet, use water. But the good thing about using milk is that it adds to the creaminess of your smoothie, making slurping a little bit more fun. It can also hide the distinct “green taste” of veggies. It really works wonders!
Next, add 3 cups of ripe fruit and blend again until the texture of your smoothie is well, smooth. And voila! Enjoy your smoothie!
Life is about making choices—choices that make you happy. Making smoothies is pretty much the same. In the end, what will be most effective is a diet you enjoy!
World Health Organization (WHO)
Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption around the world
American Heart Association (AHA)
Tell me more about your experiences with smoothies in the comments section below!
Author Bio :
Leanne Thompson is an author and a blogger who has contributed to some of the most well-known Health, Fitness and Nutrition blogs. She has struggled with her weight in her teenage years, which has driven her to undertake a Bachelors of Nutrition degree in the renowned Iowa State University, mostly to study the needs of a human body and how to make the most out of her life. She has made it her life goal to spread awareness about the importance of healthy weight loss and the well-being of people she has contact with. Visit her nutrition & health blog to find out more information!