Are smoothies healthy for breakfast?
Depending on how they are made and the ingredients used, smoothies can be a very healthy breakfast and provide you with a burst of nutrients and energy from fruits and vegetables. The healthiest smoothies have a lot of vegetables, some fruit, good fats and protein added to them in the form of nuts and seeds and yogurt. Oh, and remember to leave the skin of the fruit on (except when you use bananas or kiwis or mangoes of course). Healthy smoothies include no added sugars, nor any ingredients that have added sugar in them (think fruit sorbets with sugar or sweetened yogurt). Most store-bought smoothies do not fit this rule, and you are better off making smoothies from scratch. However, it is important to note that having a smoothie for breakfast does not give you the license to snack on unhealthy junk foods or eat unhealthy meals for lunch and dinner. A smoothie is an addition to a generally healthy diet, and not a substitute.
Vegetable smoothies are primarily made with vegetables and can be a great way to add more vegetables to your diet, provided no added sugars are used. Vegetables do not share the natural sweetness of fruits and it might be tempting to add some sugar to make it taste better, but it’s easy to get carried away and add too much. Stick with not more than a tablespoon of raw honey or maple syrup for each serving. Better yet, use a pinch of salt and lemon, lime, ginger or mint for flavouring without any added sugars.
Fruit smoothies are primarily made with fruits and hence tend to be much sweeter than their vegetable counterparts. While whole fruits and incredibly healthy to eat on their own, adding two or more fruits to a single serving of smoothie can concentrate the natural fruit sugars and lead to a sugar high and crash soon after. The type of fruit used does matter, and berries in general do not cause a spike and consequent crash in blood sugar levels as other fruits do.
The fibre in smoothies does remain intact, making the sugars less easily digestible and absorbed compared to fruit juices but because the fruits are pureed, fruit smoothies can increase blood sugar levels compared to eating a fruit whole. Besides, it’s easier to consume more in a very short period of time than you would when eating a fruit whole. Eating whole fruits are also more filling and satiating than fruit smoothies.
It is therefore much better to consume vegetables in smoothie form (especially green vegetables – no harm eating several servings of those in a sitting) and eat fruits in their whole form. Eating fresh fruits is very healthy, and associated with a reduced risk of death from major diseases such as heart disease and cancer. As always, please ensure not to add sugar or other syrups.
If you haven’t already guessed, I am very much in favour of smoothies for breakfast, provided they are the healthy kind I’ve talked about before – loaded with greens, berries, nuts and seeds or nut butters, non-gmo soy milk or yogurt/ Greek yogurt and without added sugar.
Benefits of drinking smoothie for breakfast:
When smoothies are made from scratch without added sugars or ingredients that have added sugars in them, have plenty of vegetables, a little fruit, nuts and seeds and yogurt, it becomes a complete meal and provides good carbohydrates, fats and protein and a lot of micro nutrients to fuel your mornings. Here are the benefits of drinking such a healthy smoothie for breakfast:
- The smoothie counts towards your daily allowance of fruits and vegetables (five a day). Let’s face it. Most of us do not meet our daily recommended five-a-day servings of fruits and vegetables and smoothies provide an easy to drink at least two or more servings.
- Smoothies made at home can be made very healthy with green vegetables, some fruits (especially berries), healthy nuts and seeds such as chia, or hemp seeds or almond butter, and non-gmo and unsweetened soy milk or yogurt or even regular unsweetened yogurt. You can even add some overnight oats to make it even more filling! All these ingredients provide nutrients, fibre, good fats and protein while having a low glycemic load which provides a steady supply of energy.
- By replacing a corn-based cereal and milk or coffee and cookies, bacon and eggs or pancakes breakfast with a healthy smoothie, you will be adding far more nutrients and antioxidants to your diet.
- All the fibre in the smoothie works as food for the good bacteria in your gut, helping to maintain a good balance of beneficial gut bacteria which plays a big role in our overall health and immunity.
- For busy people on the go, healthy smoothies take very little time to make and are a great way to pack in a lot of nutrients.
- A healthy smoothie packed with nutrients, fibre, good fats and protein will keep you full and help to prevent unhealthy cravings.
- Compared to people who skip breakfast or depend on caffeine for energy, a healthy smoothie (not fruit juice) can provide a steady supply of energy throughout the morning without any unpleasant ‘crashes’.
- Many of us don’t drink enough water throughout the day, which can cause a host of problems. Drinking a healthy smoothie at breakfast will ensure you aren’t dehydrated.
- Healthy smoothies with lots of vegetables and berries are alkalizing and good for bone health.
- All the fibre in smoothies supports your digestive system and helps prevent constipation.
- The addition of good fats such as chia and flax gives a high dose of omega-3 fats that are healthy for brain and heart function and helps fight inflammation.
- Healthy smoothies with vegetables, fruits (especially berries), nuts and seeds and some soy milk or yogurt or Greek yogurt provides fibre, good fats and protein that can help provide a steady supply of energy without a sudden rise in blood sugar levels and is therefore a good breakfast choice for those with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- Fruits and vegetables are very good for skin. Incorporating two or more servings of vegetables and some fruits in a healthy smoothie can give your skin a special glow and prevent premature skin aging.
- People who have a higher intake of fruits and vegetables (as you would if you have healthy smoothies for breakfast), are generally healthier and have a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, two main killers in modern society.
- Having fruits and vegetables in smoothie form actually improves the bioavailability of nutrients contained in them, this means the nutrients and antioxidants contained in smoothies from the vegetable and fruit ingredients is more easily accessible and absorbed by the body. This is also the reason why fruit smoothies can cause blood sugar levels to spike much faster than eating fruits in their whole form. So again, this just goes on to prove that in order to get the most out of smoothies, you must add lots of green vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds and protein to your smoothie. This way you get a lot of nutrients without any negative effects on blood sugar levels.
Are you convinced yet? Will you be having smoothies for breakfast? Let me know in the comments!
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