Are Smoothies Actually Healthy?

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Smoothies may be one of the first things that jump to mind when you think about typical “health” foods. Full of fruit, quick and convenient and a staple for gym bunnies around the world; seems like an obvious healthy choice, right? Sadly, not all smoothies are created equal. Some are just as sugary as a soda alternative, with experts warning that they may be contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic rather than working against it. Between the cups of fruit, frozen yoghurt, juice and added extras, smoothies can be a calorie and sugar-laden disaster that’s more likely to damage your teeth and waistline than improve your health.

To improve your breakfast smoothie and avoid the unhealthy sugar trap, make a few simple changes to your ingredients:

  • Swap the banana for avocado. Although bananas thicken a smoothie and taste great, they are high in sugar. Avocados are a great alternative, providing healthy fats and nutrients that can lower cholesterol, boost your vitamins and keep you fuller for longer.
  • Avoid buying smoothies out from supermarkets, cafes and restaurants. These tend to be loaded with extra ingredients, fat and sugar and will probably be the caloric equivalent to a milkshake. Make your own to avoid these traps.
  • Add some protein. While many smoothies have more sugar than protein and therefore won’t really power you up efficiently for the day, including protein can up your energy levels. Add protein powder for a breakfast boost, or pick low-fat dairy instead of fruit juice to mix with your fruit.
  • Choose your sweeteners wisely. If you need to add sweetness to your smoothie, try and pick ingredients with a lower GI index. Agave nectar may be a good alternative, and will keep your blood sugar stable for longer.
  • Try “green” vegetable smoothies rather than sugary fruit concoctions, or replace some of the fruits with vegetables. Although this might not appeal at first, the right combination can make a delicious drink, so experiment with flavours to find one that works for you.
Sarah Pinkerton

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