A major pro about smoothies is that they’re quick and convenient. They’re also extremely versatile and can provide a hefty dose of fibre and micronutrients that help to promote good digestive health, a balanced gut microbiome, and can boost the immune system. Let’s also not forget to mention that a well-made smoothie can sneak some extra veggies into the diets of even the fussiest eaters! However, there is a big ‘but’ here. Whether a smoothie is healthy or not depends on what you put in it…
How to make a healthy smoothie
- Firstly, opt for homemade smoothies versus supermarket-bought smoothies to avoid unnecessary added sugar.
- Like you would with a meal, incorporate the 4 major elements of a balanced meal which are protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and colour (fruits and veggies).
- It might sound strange, but chew your smoothie! The process of digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing your food thoroughly (including smoothies) encourages the production of saliva, enzymes, and gastric juices that maximise digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Drink your smoothie over the same amount of time that you would take to eat a meal. This helps to avoid indigestion and helps to feel more satiated. It can take 20 minutes or more for the body and brain to register that you are full. If you’re chugging your smoothie in 2-3 minutes, you could end up not realising that you’ve had enough fuel and subsequently drink more than you need, or reaching for other foods or beverages to top yourself up.
- Try adding herbs or spices such as mint, parsley, ginger or turmeric for an added anti-inflammatory boost.
- Use Greek or natural style yoghurts for a dose of gut-healthy probiotics.
- Although not essential by any means (really!), it can be fun to add in additional nutritional supplements for extra health properties such as collagen powder, protein powder, or spirulina, for example.
What can make a smoothie unhealthy?
- Avoid recipes that use processed fruit juices as the liquid base for your smoothies such as orange juice or apple juice.
- Pass on ingredients such as sorbet or ice cream…unless it’s a dessert smoothie you’re going for?
- Fruit-based smoothies are delicious (and fruit is an important part of a healthy diet) but a smoothie consisting of just fruit plus liquids is not a replacement for a balanced meal.
- Raw eggs or egg whites. Hello, salmonella!
- Drinking more than you would eat in a meal is going to provide you with more energy (in the form of calories or kilojoules) than you may need. Yes, smoothies can be super nutritious, but calories in the form of liquids are still calories.
- In addition to the above point, you can have too much of a good thing. Many smoothie recipes use delicious, nutrient-packed ingredients such as dates, honey, nut butter etc. Be mindful of quantities to avoid excessive amounts of fats or sugars (even healthy ones)!
Smoothie combo ideas:
- Banana, milk, oats, peanut butter and spinach.
- Blueberries, natural yoghurt, chia seeds and cucumber (and a splash of water).
- Mango, kale, soy milk and LSA (ground linseed, sunflower, almond).
- Pineapple, avocado, natural yoghurt, and mint (and a splash of water).