‘Innocent’ smoothies may not be that innocent.
Eating enough fruit and vegetables can be difficult, expensive and often requires careful choices and planning. Many of us don’t eat enough. So it may be tempting to drink a tasty, easy smoothie and get it over with in one sitting.
While this may seem like a great idea, smoothies they can be extremely high in sugar. Many smoothies contain over 30g, which is the recommended daily amount suggested by the NHS. For example, a bottle of the “Energise” innocent smoothie contains 49g. This is more than in a can of Coke! All of this sugar and it only counts for one of your five a day. The sugar content can also make these delicious drinks relatively high in calories.
This can be a problem because liquid doesn’t satisfy us as much as solid fruit would. So we may feel healthy after drinking a smoothie, but the chances are that we’ll only go and eat more calories after. You can imagine how easy this can be if smoothies are had with meals, such as breakfast or lunch. So if you’re looking for a quick weight loss fix, smoothies are not the answer.
The process of blending can also reduce the health benefits of eating fruit. When the fruit is all chopped up, the fibre that they contain is already broken down (something that your body would usually do for itself). This can change the rate of nutrient digestion in your body, and cause the sugars to be absorbed more quickly. The resulting spikes in blood sugar can then leave you feeling tired later on in the day. Fibre is also important in making you feel full. So with the fibre already broken down, this contributes to the lack of satiation after drinking a smoothie.
For those who are unlikely to ever eat fruit or vegetables, drinking it in a smoothie may the only option, and the best way to ensure that you get your five a day. Innocent super smoothies also include additional vitamins, such as vitamins C and E. If drinking smoothies is the only way you are likely to get those essential vitamins and minerals, go for it. With a balanced diet, exercise and bearing in mind calorie and sugar intake, some of the negative aspects of smoothies will have little impact. Whilst fibre is broken down, it is not destroyed. So smoothies are still a good source of soluble fibre, especially if you are unlikely to get it elsewhere.
Smoothies can also be a great idea as a pre workout drink. They’ll supply you the energy you need, and can include protein to help with weight lifting and muscle building. Yogurt and milk also contain large amounts of water, so dairy based smoothies will also provide the necessary hydration for your gym session.
An alternative to the sweet syrupy smoothies sold in shops is to make your own green smoothies. This has been a huge trend recently, and a quick search will return hundreds of recipes. However, few green smoothies have calories that come from greens. To make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you can, and avoiding all that sugar, you should be aiming for 70% greens and only 30% fruit. Good examples of greens to use are spinach, avocado, and everyone’s favourite, kale.
Fruits with a high glycaemic index should also be avoided. The glycaemic index is how quickly a food affects your blood sugar levels, which is important for avoiding blood sugar spikes. Unfortunately, this means that soft fruits, like mangos and raspberries, while tasty, should be left out of your smoothies. Fruits with relatively low sugar content, and high fibre are an excellent choice for including in smoothies. Bananas are a good example of this. For a more satisfying drink, protein should also be included in smoothies. The addition of seeds, peanut butter and whey protein will be more filling, and will also reduce the glycaemic load, making for an all-round healthier smoothie.