With so many controversial stories surrounding the health benefits of fruit smoothies, or not so health benefits as some may say, the question on SO many lips is; are fruit smoothies good or bad for us and our health? It is true fruit smoothies are an easy way to consume a proportion of the recommended 8 fruit & vegetables each day; they are super easy to blend, sweet to taste and kids love them. Often parents choose fruit over vegetables for their kids thinking they are getting some nutrition. The thing is fruit contains high levels of sugar and by blending a selection of fruits together you’ll just increase the calories and concentrate the sugar further making a drink laden with harmful sugar rather than good nutrition.
Many store bought or restaurant smoothies contain added sugar too. Many well known coffee shops have also jumped on to the ‘healthy smoothie’ bandwagon with billboards inside and out advertising super trendy healthy fruit smoothies. I tried one for myself recently in a well known coffee shop and almost instantly began to feel unwell so I investigated the ingredients that were used only to find there was no fresh fruit in it at all, just a concentrated soup of sugar water! It took my healthy system a while to return to normal and the frightening thing is most people have no idea that these drinks are probably as bad as drinking a glass of Coca Cola and could contribute to weight gain, diabetes and other nasty diseases associated with a high sugar diet. The sugar content in them is very high and in some cases the drinks contain nearly as much as our recommended daily amount.
The sugars from such drinks are absorbed into the blood super quick which could make sensitive adults like me, diabetics and children, hyperactive, moody, lethargic and predispose them to more serious illnesses. A diabetic friend of mine too was seriously ill after drinking one of these high sugar syrup drinks which are being labelled ‘Healthy Smoothie’.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that only 5% of our daily calorie intake should consist of added or ‘free’ sugars. This equates to approximately five-six teaspoons (25g) for women and seven-eight teaspoons (35g) for men and it is said that some of these fruit drinks contain as much sugar as three-and-a-half doughnuts (94.5g approximately).
These sugars are overloading our livers and leading to health issues such as heart problems, diabetes and obesity, which not only affects our quality of life, but also costs the NHS over £6 billion a year. The key issue is a lack of fiber. When we eat a whole piece of fruit, fibre forms a protective layer that acts as a barrier to the intestine which slows the absorption of sugar, so the liver has a chance to catch up. In fizzy drinks, fruit juices and high sugar smoothies, the barrier has gone, which leads to the liver being overloaded.
Don’t limit yourself to just fruit when you make your smoothie; add vegetables such as: carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin and spinach which will increase the nutrient value in your smoothie without adding many calories. And I promise you your kids will never even know they’re in there! Vegetables are low in sugar and super high in essential vitamins and minerals which promotes good health.
There is also a whole host of alternative (and added ingredients) to consider when making your smoothie. Include a source of healthy fat, such as nuts, nut butter, avocado, coconut oil, flax or chia seeds too as these will help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in your smoothie. Greek yogurt and Coconut milk are great for smoothies too as they increase the protein content of your smoothie and make it more filling, keeping you fuller for longer. Oatmeal will add fiber and thicken your smoothie, and adding a tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder will add a lush chocolate taste which will increase essential minerals and antioxidants.
You really can transform your smoothie into super healthy smoothies and if in doubt when out and about, ask for the list of ingredients before purchasing, I always make my own now unless I find a trusted source.
If you’re looking for some smoothie inspiration, check out Juicy Recipes!