How to get the most from your smoothies
Homemade smoothies have boomed in the fitness industry over the last year, a quick and easy way of getting your 5-a-day into just one tumbler, what’s not to like?
A smoothie differs from a juice because instead of the pulp being strained away, the fiber is retained, providing benefits including helping our bodies maintain healthy blood glucose and insulin levels, promote regular bowel movement and also making us feel fuller for longer. As with anything there are pros and cons to this method of nutrition and also ways in which you can get the most out of your smoothie.
Would you be able to eat 3 oranges, 2 pears, 2 apples and 1 pear in one sitting? The answer is normally no. However once blended in a smoothie, this amount can be consumed no problem at all because the fruits are concentrated into a far smaller volume, along with their sugars. The blending process also increases the glycaemic index of these fruits, meaning their sugars can be absorbed by the body much quicker, leading to a sugar spike.
Luckily, there are ways around this. Another great benefit of fiber is that it can act as a buffer and slow down the insulin spike. To do this make sure you are adding greens to your smoothies to bump up that fiber content. Other than the colour change, spinach and kale can normally go relatively unnoticed in a smoothie, or for something a little more distinct, be brave and try adding celery or parsley. My favourite method of adding fiber to smoothies is using drained cans of chickpeas or kidney beans, high not just in fiber but also protein.
Nitrates & Phytochemicals
Green smoothies in particular are high in nitrates which can aid in reducing blood pressure, you’ll find them in high doses in beetroot, celery, lettuce, radishes and spinach. Phytochemicals are found in all types of fruit and veg from terpenes in citrus fruits, saponins in sweet potatoes and organosulfides in green leafy veg. Different phytochemicals have different effects but their one similarity is that they are all antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation in the body. The most value section of a fruit or vegetable when it comes to antioxidant value is its skin/peel, so aim to include the entire food in your smoothie if you want to gain the most antioxidant benefit.
Did you know that the texture and structure of fruits and vegetables can actually have a cleansing effect on the teeth? Well in a smoothie this is counteracted and instead we risk tooth decay due to the high sugar levels. Avoid this by drinking water alongside your smoothie and waiting at least an hour after consumption before brushing your teeth, brushing straight away can actually spread the sugars and heighten your risk.
So how should we be making smoothies?
Firstly, don’t just pack your smoothie with fruits and vegetables alone, our bodies need protein not only for repair but also to slow the digestive process, helping you feel fuller for longer. The inclusion of protein is particularly important If you are using a smoothie as a substitution for a meal, for example if your aim is weight loss.
I would recommend using a scoop of protein powder from the latest Bewsh Box in every smoothie you make. Other options are nut butters, Greek yogurt, flax seed, chia seeds, nut milks or like I mentioned previously, chickpeas, kidney beans or even butter means.
However unpleasant it may sound to some, aim to include a leafy green in your smoothie. The micronutrition benefits are huge and often you really cannot taste them. An easy way to introduce yourself to this is by adding a handful of spinach to a chocolate protein smoothie, the strong chocolate taste will completely mask the spinach flavour.
If you struggle with hunger after finishing your smoothie, try increasing the volume of your smoothie or altering the texture. This can be done in a number of ways, the easiest way of increasing the volume being to simply blend your smoothie for longer. This can increase the bubbles within the smoothie, giving you more food without adding a single extra calorie. Adding frozen ingredients is a really effective way of making a bigger, fluffier smoothie that can seem like more of a meal than a drink. Ice and frozen banana will work well, but if you want a really good result then frozen cauliflower is fantastic. Make the smoothie first before adding the frozen ingredients as this will help with blending.
Happy smoothie making!