Smoothie shops have sprung up all over the country, and people are sipping these frosty concoctions in increasing numbers. Drinking an ice-cold smoothie on a hot summer day is a tasty way to stay cool. They’re cold, icy and refreshing, but are they really good for you?
Smoothies: What’s Good and Bad about Them
When you buy a smoothie at a fast food restaurant and at some smoothie shops, you could end up sipping 500 or more calories along with a day’s worth of sugar. Plus, some smoothie shops and fast food restaurant use powdered fruit-flavored smoothie mixes that contain little or no whole fruit. There’s nothing healthy or low in calories about these smoothies. On the other hand, a smoothie made with whole fruit and plain yogurt with no added sugar can be low in calories and nutritious. If you use Greek yogurt and add a scoop of whey protein, you’ll have a source of protein and complex carbs from the fruit. The yogurt is also a natural source of probiotics.
It’s best to limit the amount of fruit juice you drink since it’s a concentrated source of natural sugars. Adding fruit to smoothies is a healthier way to get the antioxidants in fruit since you’re using the whole fruit and fiber rather than just the juice. Fiber helps to moderate the increase in blood sugar level and insulin that comes from the fruit sugars.
Add Veggies to Your Smoothies
Fruit isn’t the only thing you can add to a smoothie. How about a handful of spinach or kale? Never mind the green color. When you combine greens with fruit, the sweetness of the fruit overpowers the taste of the veggies. The green smoothie movement is growing since it’s an easy way for people to get more raw vegetables. The more greens you add to a smoothie, the more fiber and antioxidants you’ll get.
Can Smoothies Help You Lose Weight?
Research shows that beverages calories aren’t as satiating as food calories, so you’ll eat the same amount of food after drinking a beverage. On the other hand, smoothies are thicker and have more fiber than a glass of juice or other beverage so they tend to be more filling and appetite-suppressing. In fact, green smoothies with their high fiber content can be quite filling and satisfying. Plus, you have the added benefit of meeting a portion of your vegetable quota for the day. A green smoothie with a scoop of whey protein you whip up in the blender can be a quick breakfast on the go or a way to “refuel” after a workout.
The Bottom Line?
Sippping smoothies, especially green smoothies, is a good way to get protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, but stay away from powdered smoothie mixes and smoothies from smoothie shops unless they make them with whole fruit and no added sugar. Use smoothies as a way to get more vegetables by making green smoothies using your choice of veggies. To make a smoothie quickly and inexpensively, use frozen fruits and vegetables instead of fresh. They’re just as nutritious and don’t require cleaning or preparation. You can find a variety of smoothie and green smoothie recipes online or experiment by creating your own unique combinations for a low-calorie, nutritious breakfast or snack.
Obes Rev. 2003 Nov;4(4):201-12.