I kind of cringe at the fact I’m a green smoothie fan. I never bought into flouro T-shirts back in the ‘80s and I don’t do diets. I try many things, but I don’t like to buy into a “thing”, unless a) I’ve looked into said thing in detail, b) I’ve experienced a substantial improvement in my life from it and, generally, c) I can do it myself (without purchasing some fan-dangled contraption or procedure or whatever).
Surprisingly, green smoothies tick off my three considerations:
- The evidence suggests they are an effective way to get dense nutrition into our bodies.
- I’ve found them to be a really nifty way to eat my greens and notice the difference when I’m not drinking (or eating) one.
- Green smoothies are not about purchasing a fancy, expensive product in terribly wasteful packaging. I make my own with ease and tote in old jars and reusable cannisters.
Thus I comfortably do green smoothies. Most days. And in different forms.
Why drink your greens?
We need to be eating 5-6 serves of vegetables a day (according to national nutritional guidelines) to get enought macro and micronutrients into our beings. I’d say 6-8 is optimal, especially if you have compromised health. Most of us find this hard to pull off daily. Most meals are packed out with carbs and other nutrient-negligible fillers, leaving little room for greens.
By creating a meal around greens, it ensures you get a good 2-3 serves of the good stuff into your day.
It also “crowds out” the crap. While ever you’re filling up on greens, you’re not eating the nutrient-negligible fillers.
Green smoothies v green juices
The difference between the two is this:
smoothies are made by pureeing whole fruit and vegetables into a thick drink. Juices extract the ‘juice’ only and the pulp is tossed.
So why do I prefer the former?
- Smoothies are more filling. The fibre keeps us fuller longer, taking almost twice as long as liquids to leave our guts. Juices can also slow your metabolism (the calorie decrease can send the body into starvation mode, causing you to store energy).
- Smoothies don’t constipate. Juices can. You need fibre for your gut to move and to maintain the right kind of bacteria to keep things active.
- Smoothies are the whole food. I hate food wastage. Why chuck perfectly good fibre? When you chuck the skin, you also chuck a bunch of nutrients, too. Then there’s also this: when you muck with food, taking out bits of it, you land in trouble. Always. Case in point: skim milk. Best to eat whole food, always.
- Smoothies don’t dump sugar on the liver. Even juices that are mostly veggie-based still contain quite a bit of sugar and, without the fibre to slow down its journey to the liver, this sugar can place quite the load on the liver. Which very much counters the “detoxing”, “cleansing” claims attached to juicing.
- Smoothies don’t require special, expensive equipment. Sure, smoothies are best made in a high-powered blender, which can be expensive. But if you do invest in such a blender, it can be used for a host of different purposes – nut butters, pestos, coconut butter. A juicer can only make…juice. Equally, you can make green smoothies using a regular kitchen blender, too. These are dirt cheap and, again, are not one-trick-gadgets.
How do I counter the pro-juice claims?
* Smoothies cause heat damage? The claim is that the blades run at high speeds, which can heat the smoothie which could kill off some of the beneficial enzymes. I think this is one of life’s smaller concerns. Besides, to counter this issue, it’s possible to simply add ice to your smoothie to cool it down.
* The nutrients in juice are more readily available? Many believe juicing gives your body a digestive break, thus allowing you to better focus on absorbing the nutrients of the veggies (and fruit). However, no scientific evidence exists to confirm this.
* Juicing is better for cleansing? By making nutrients more bioavailable, say juice fans, you save your energy for other tasks, like cellular repair and detoxification. But I think these claims are kinda countered by the factors I outline above.
* Juicing works faster? Since you’re getting so many veggies and fruit in the one dose, it can speed up detoxing, goes the claim. To be honest, I don’t know that fast detoxing is a good idea. Slow and steady is best when it comes to digesting.
How do I take my green smoothies?
The recipe for my Choc Mint Whip is in I Quit Sugar.
Here’s one that the I Quit Sugar team developed.
Here’s some more clever ways to veggies into your diet.
Also, I feature a bunch of green smoothies in my next print book, out Feb 25.
What’s your take – smoothies or juices? I’m bracing myself for some dissent!