Smoothies: Three Things to Watch Out For

Smoothies can be a great way to eat more fruits and veggies but I don't recommend drinking them with reckless abandon.  And here's three reasons why...

1.  Smoothies aren't a panacea for good health (for two reasons).

Smoothies can be a great addition to a healthy, plant-based or vegan diet, but they can also trick you.  Here's two different ways...

One - when you blend up your food, the blender is actually doing some of the pre-digesting of the food for you.  This makes it easier to consume more calories without feeling as full.  

For example, if you were to drink a smoothie made of 2 bananas, 1 cup of frozen cherries, a half cup of almond milk, 5 dates and 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder (that's an awesome smoothie that I love by the way), you could fit all of that food into just one glass.

 (There's a little left-over.  This is a small mason jar.  This is would all fit into a pint glass).

(There's a little left-over.  This is a small mason jar.  This is would all fit into a pint glass).

 Same amount of food as the smoothie on the left but you actually have more food to eat when it's whole.

Same amount of food as the smoothie on the left but you actually have more food to eat when it's whole.

If you were to eat 2 bananas, 1 cup of cherries, 5 dates and a half cup of almond milk whole (not blended), you're going to feel more bulk in your stomach.  This will make you feel fuller.  

When you physically munch of food (versus sipping it through a straw), your insides are going to have to burn more calories to actually digest the food as well.  

 Eating the whole fruit is more likely to fill you up than eating it blended.  however, it's the same amount of calories.

Eating the whole fruit is more likely to fill you up than eating it blended.  however, it's the same amount of calories.

Two - if you ate the standard American diet and did nothing but drank a smoothie everyday, yes that's better than not, but it's unlikely you'll experience any tangible health benefits from it.

You're more likely to fit into those old clothes you love in the back of your closet by eating whole, plant-based meals 80% of the week and not drinking smoothies.

However, if drinking healthy, vegan smoothies is going to help you eat healthier throughout the rest of the day, then that's freakin' awesome.  Drink 'em up!  Just avoid these types of smoothies...

 

1.  Avoid smoothies with dairy products

Dairy is associated with asthma, allergies (1), type I diabetes (2), multiple sclerosis (3), acne (4) and it doesn't promote weight loss (5).  If the reason you're drinking a smoothie is for health, ditch the dairy.  

Use plant-milk or silken tofu for a healthy plant-based or vegan smoothie instead.  Silken tofu (not firm or regular tofu) is soft and creamy like yogurt and takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with.  

 

2.  Avoid smoothies with added sugar.  Here's where you'll find them...

There's a good chance there may be added sugar in a smoothie when you buy it at a smoothie chain... fast food smoothies so to speak.  

I was in the Philadelphia airport a few weeks ago and stopped at smoothie and frozen yogurt place in the food court.  Sugar was listed as an ingredient in a lot of the smoothies.  So, I ordered one that didn't include sugar (who needs sugar if you're eating blended up pineapple and mango?).  

It just so happened that I watched the person make the smoothie (for no particular reason) and, she added sugar.  Argh!  So I kindly pointed out the listed ingredients and she made me a new one.   

It's common for "smoothie restaurants" to use added sugar.  Stick with sweeter fruits for a naturally sweet taste instead.

If you're making smoothies at home and won't it on the sweeter side, add dates (pick or cut them into pieces) or date paste.  Dates are incredibly sweet and they're packed with nutrition.

 

Take Control Now

Are you a smoothie drinker?  Why or why not?  If you have a great smoothie recipe, please share it by clicking 'comment' below.

 

References

1. Sackesen, C. et al., 2011. Cow's milk allergy as a global challenge. Curr Opin Allergy Clin immunol. Jun;11(3):243-8

2. Gerstein, H., 1994. Cow's milk exposure and type I diabetes mellitus. A critical overview of the clinical literature. Diabetes Care, Jan;17(1):13-9.

3. Malosse, D. 1992. Correlation between milk and dairy product consumption and multiple sclerosis prevalence: a worldwide study. Neuroepidemiology, 11(4-6):304-12.

4. Melnik, B. 2009. Milk consumption: aggravating factor of acne and promoter of chronic diseases of Western societies. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. Apr;7(4):364-70

5. Lanou AJ and Barnard ND, 2008. Dairy and weight loss hypothesis: an evaluation of the clinical trials. Nutr Rev. May;66 (5): 272-9.