Let’s face it, the green smoothie trend has exploded into the stratosphere in popularity amongst health enthusiasts, wellness freaks and those on the hunt for eternal youth, but despite it’s popularity, is the green smoothie all its cracked up to be? As a Nutritionist who has been around the block a few times, I am amazed at how this latest trend in health and wellness has taken off, but have we become a little over zealous in our embrace for all things healthy and completely missed the mark on this one?
There’s no doubt green smoothies look and taste great, but its what you’re adding to them that could be defeating their intended purpose. Ok, so let me put it this way – just because its green doesn’t mean it going to make you lean! Quite the opposite in fact if you’re not careful as many recipes I see floating around the internet and on social media are just disguises for sugar and LOTS of it! I often find myself trawling through the ingredients list when I’m eating out at a cafe and I’m disappointed to say that I’ve never ordered one straight from the menu without asking if I can adjust at least an ingredient or two – sounds painful – yes – but I just blame it on my profession and smile in the hope they will oblige. So your best bet is to create your own and here are the 5 ingredients I recommend you leave behind when next you want to whip up this morning delight.
Dates – these are one ingredient I cringe over when reading many supposedly healthy recipes because they are packed with fructose – the naturally occurring sugar in fruit. Just because it’s fruit sugar doesn’t make it a healthy sugar – in fact there really is no such thing as ‘healthy’ sugar, but rather ‘healthier’ sources of sugar, but even then these sources need to be approached with caution and consumed in moderation. So although there’s no denying these sensuous treats add a soft and gooey decadence to any dish you might add them too, I encourage you to choose another fruit for your green smoothie that is lower in fructose or limit it to just one – which equates to a little over a tea spoon of sugar.
Packaged Coconut Water – even more popular than the green smoothie is drinking coconut water, but not all coconut water was created equal! Packaged or bottled brands undergo pasteurization, ( a heating process to kill off any bacteria) depleting the original nutrient content found in fresh coconut water, and some brands even add sugar to enhance the flavour. My pick when you can – use fresh coconut water straight from nature – although cumbersome due to their size and cost, meaning they may not be everyones cup of tea practically.
Too Much Fruit – One piece of fruit is definitely enough when it comes to adding a little flavour to your green smoothie, but many recipes I see contain as much as a banana, a date or two, half to a whole pear AND a kiwi fruit, in addition to around 300ml of coconut water! Yikes that adds up to between 42 – 55 grams of sugar depending if you add half or a whole pear and 1 or 2 medjool dates – which equates to around 10.5 – 13 tea spoon’s of sugar – more than a 375ml can of Coca Cola! “But it’s natural sugar from fruit” I hear you say, well sorry folks but you can have too much of a good thing and fruit is not excluded thanks to being naturally high in fructose, the form of sugar your body converts directly to fat, so it’s important not to consume more than two pieces a day – the recommended serve also backed by the Australian government “Go for 2 and 5” initiative
Honey – If you’re adding some fruit such as a kiwi or banana, or even a handful of frozen berries, your green smoothie will be sweet enough and if your taste buds don’t agree, then its time to address a possible sugar addiction and rebalance your hormones with my 28 day Eat Yourself Healthy program designed to put an end to those sugar and caffeine cravings, amongst other health problems. Honey may contain essential nutrients in it’s raw state, but like fruit and other natural sweeteners including maple syrup, honey is made up of around 40% fructose, so remember your sweet enough without adding a serve of honey.
Poor Quality protein powders – Another disguise for a supposed ‘health food’, many protein powders on the market are nothing more than junk food, thanks to their sugar content, or artificial additives and sweeteners, so ALWAYS read your labels and stick to clean sources of protein powder such as pea, hemp seed or fermented brown rice – although if you’re avoiding grains you may want to stick to first two.
Cow’s dairy – the purpose of the green smoothie is to alkalise and renergise your precious body and greens do not mix well with acid forming animal products like cow’s milk or yoghurt. Furthermore cow’s dairy is prone to causing mucous production, IBS and reflux, so leave the cow behind and stick to using unsweetened almond or coconut milk, or a little coconut water straight from nature vs the packet.
So there you have it folks, my simple guidelines for keeping your green smoothie REALLY healthy, but if you’re looking for the ultimate green smoothie recipe, designed with health as well as flavour in mind, then check out my green goddess power smoothie recipe – it’s sure to put a little zing in your step and keep your hips and thighs looking mean and lean.
All Rights Reserved Sally Joseph copyright 2015