As we have become more conscious of our health and adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet, smoothies have become more popular. In fact, I just read that June 21 (the first day of summer) is named National Smoothie Day!
Combine this with our busy lifestyle and the desire to have our food more portable, it is now common to see someone carrying around a smoothie of some kind.
Smoothies are marketed as a health food and entire franchise businesses have been built on this one product alone! But have you spent some time looking at the nutritional value of your smoothie?
Are they actually healthy? Generally, they’re not as healthy as you think.
This is true both because of the ingredients in them and because of how they are usually consumed.
Smoothies are High in Sugar
Did you know that the average Canadian consumes an average of 88 pounds of sugar each year? That’s about 20% of calories consumed. And male teens consume even more at 138 pounds per year.
Compare that to the World Health Organization’s recommendation that we limit our sugar consumption to 5-10% of calories. Ten percent of calories for an average 2,000 calorie diet works out to about 50g per day or 12.5 teaspoons. This is not a target, this is the upper limit. And the average Canadian is consuming more than double this amount!
Our smoothie consumption is not helping. Most commercial smoothies contain a large amount of sugar in just one serving. Here is a list of the grams of sugar in some of the popular smoothies commercially available (note that serving sizes may not be equal). Some of these exceed the grams of sugar we should be consuming in an entire day!
Booster Juice – The Original snack size – 34g
Jugo Juice – Berry Banana Original – 51g
Jamba Juice – Strawberries Gone Bananas – 30g
Orange Julius – Strawberry Banana small – 65g
Freshii – Strawberry Banana Smoothie – 39g
But aren’t smoothies made of real fruit and that’s good for us, you ask? Yes, real, fresh fruit is healthy, but not in this large a quantity. And when you use a smoothie to replace an entire meal, you are missing out on other important macronutrients such as proteins and healthy fats.
When your meal is primarily high sugar carbohydrates without the addition of protein and fat, you are sending your body on a blood sugar roller coaster. This leads to crashes in energy, weight gain, increased inflammation and an increased risk of a host of other chronic conditions.
Drinking our Food Leads to Overconsumption
When we have a meal in liquid form, we tend to consume it faster, feel less satiated and are therefore at risk of overconsumption. This study revealed just that.
And overall, our food has become more portable than ever! With drive-throughs, take-out and sandwiches/wraps we can carry around with us, more of our meals are being eaten on-the-go than ever before.
When we eat in this way, we are not very focused on what we are eating. This is what is called mindless eating and can lead to increased risk of digestive difficulties, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
In addition to the physical health implications of gulping down our food, we are missing out on the importance of the social experience by not sitting down and sharing our meals with family, friends or co-workers. This is extremely important for our emotional health. In this post, I discuss the importance of nurturing positive social connections on our physical and mental health.
Most store-bought smoothies are high in sugar and missing important nutrients that help to manage blood sugar such as protein and fat. Also, “drinking” our meals often leads to overconsumption. Both of these contribute to weight gain and other negative health symptoms.
There is some good news! You can make your own smoothie so that you can ensure it contains a balance of nutrients. Also, you can eat it as a “smoothie bowl” with a spoon. This will help slow down consumption so that you are less likely to overeat.
Here are some recipes for you to try out. Warning, they are not overly sweet. If you need to add a bit more fruit at first, that’s OK. Your taste buds will adjust and be satisfied with less sweet with reduced sugar consumption over time. Remember that making them thicker (by reducing the amount of liquid) and enjoying them in a bowl will help slow down consumption.
If you would like some complimentary dinner recipes that will help to keep your blood sugar balanced to help you manage your weight, energy, and inflammation, click here for access to my FREE recipe book.