Everywhere you look around you see another smoothie or smoothie bowl recipe. They sure do look beautiful, perfect, and delicious! You are constantly hearing how these smoothies are healthy, nutritious, and chock full of health benefits. How could they not be healthy? But are these smoothies really healthy for you? Most people think smoothies are a healthy choice or meal alternative and believe that they are making a smarter decision. I will tell you what you really need to know and look for to determine if your smoothie is all it is cracked up to be.
The most important part to examine is the ingredients. How many ingredients are there in the smoothie? The fewer the ingredients usually, the better. How many of them are processed/artificial ingredients? Whole food ingredients? Obviously, you want to avoid processed ingredients. It is better to use real, whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Natural ingredients will always be better for your health and waistline.
Next, you want to determine how many sugars are actually being added. Are these sugars natural or added sugars? When I say natural, do they come from a whole food like a fruit or vegetable or are they added to a product to deliver the sweetness? Natural sugars are best; you need to be careful when sugar is being added. Here's some food for thought (pun intended) a teaspoon of sugar equals about 4 grams. According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 100 calories per day of added sugars or 6 teaspoons. If you are not careful, 6 teaspoons can add up quickly.
If your smoothie is adding a lot of sugar, it is best to think twice!
You should also consider how many calories this smoothie packs, Also, what is considered a serving size? How many ounces should you be having? Smoothies can be very deceiving. The calories can add up quickly, and before you know it, you are consuming close to 500 calories without blinking an eye. Also, it is easy to overindulge if you don't know what a serving size is. Just because there is some still left in the blender, doesn't mean you should slurp it down either.
So how can you make your smoothie healthy? You can make your smoothie healthier by incorporating whole fruits, trying to avoid processed foods and foods that contain a lot of added sugars. Try using water, almond milk, or coconut milk as your base. Also, chia seeds, flax meal, or fibrous vegetables like spinach or kale make for great additions. The fiber will help you feel full and slow down the digestion of the smoothie. Stay away from adding sweeteners, try to get your sweetness from the fruits and vegetables. Overall, know what you are putting into the smoothie and make sure you calculate the calories and sugars before you take a sip.