4 TIPS FOR AN ACTUALLY HEALTHY SMOOTHIE
The smoothie seems to have become the symbol of healthy food. In most cities, you can't walk more than a few blocks without finding a smoothie and juice bar. Now, even a lot of grocery stores have started putting them in. We're always looking for a quick fix for our health, and smoothies seem to be that vitamin-packed panacea.
While their claims about vitamins and nutrients aren't wrong, smoothies are actually often terrible for you! It's true that we don't eat enough fruits and veggies, but trying to cram all of your fruits into one meal means a sugar overload.
That's not to say smoothies can't be made healthy. It just takes some work, and may mean making them at home more often than not. But if you keep your recipes within these basic guidelines, you can make an easy-to-drink nutrition powerhouse.
TIP #1: SEEDS THE DAY
A great way to up the impact of your smoothie is throwing in some seeds. Depending on the power of your blender, one of the best options is raw, hulled pumpkin seeds. Not only are they chock full of healthy fats, protein, and fiber, but they also contain a lot of zinc. For men especially, zinc is a vital nutrient that we often don't get enough of.
If your blender isn't so strong, opt for chia seeds. They're still high in all the good stuff, and they actually have more Omega 3s than pumpkin. In addition, since they absorb water and swell, they're pretty useful for appetite control. That means you won't be dying for another smoothie in 2 hours :)
TIP #2: PROTEIN! PROTEIN! PROTEIN!
A flavorless protein powder is a great staple to keep in your kitchen. It should also be a staple in your smoothie routine. Most store bought smoothies are almost entirely carb-based (remember from our Nutrition 101 article that yes, fruits are carbs!). Some give you the option to add in protein, which you should always opt for, but option isn't always available.
In short, you want to try and round out the macroprofile of your meal. You wouldn't make a meal out of all fats, even if it was all healthy ones, so why would you do it with carbs? Throwing in 15 to 20 grams of protein alone won't save a super-sugary smoothie, but it makes a big difference. Plus, it's a cheap, simple addition that doesn't require a fancy blender.
TIP #3: THE RIGHT FRUITS
Not all fruits are created equal. While they all contain important nutrients, some are far more sugary than others. That's why it's important to stick with the fruits on the lower end of the sugar scale. Luckily, berries are some of the best, and they also make fantastic smoothies.
If you're basing your drink off of low sugar fruits, you're lessening the negative impact smoothies tend to have. However, it's easy for the sugar load to still add up. A cup of blackberries only has 7 grams, but it's crucial that you stick to that serving size. Don't go overboard just because you know they're lower in sugar :)
TIP #4: EAT YA VEGGIES :)
We all know that veggies have to be a big part of your fresh juice blends. Unfortunately, that same thought process doesn't always transfer over to smoothies. The idea of a green smoothie isn't as marketable as a fresh green juice. Not only does this mean we base them too much on sugary fruits, but we're also missing out on the vitamins that make smoothies a good practice in the first place.
In reality, we should stop thinking of smoothies as way to eat fruit. Instead, think of the fruit as a way to disguise the vegetables :) Pick low-flavor veggies like spinach, cucumbers, celery, etc. and powerful fruits like citrus and berries. Despite the bright green color, you're not going to even notice the vegetables!
As with just about everything in the diet world, moderation is everything. Even one terrible smoothie a week isn't going to throw off your health goals. But drinking a smoothie everyday could have some unintended results. Even if you follow these rules to the letter, a smoothie can't replace a well-balanced meal. However, these are going to make a huge difference in the impact, both good and bad, of your drink! What's your favorite healthy smoothie recipe?! Share in the comments below!