Whether you’re a seasoned smoothie drinker or a complete novice, the chances are you probably have some unanswered questions. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Did you know we have a resident nutritionist at Honestly Good HQ?
Our nutritional superstar Caroline Farrell helps with our recipe development and is a firm believer that the food we eat can have a profound effect on our health and wellbeing.
Take it away Caroline…
Some foods are actually more nutritious when eaten raw, while others are more nutritious when eaten cooked. For example, raw broccoli contains three times more sulforaphane (a plant compound which may protect against cancer), than cooked broccoli. However, cooking greatly increases the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes. Therefore, it’s best to eat a mix of both raw and cooked foods.
Organic means something doesn’t allow the use of synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Natural methods are used to control pests/disease and genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are banned.
Pesticides are often used in non-organic farming. Unfortunately, washing fruit and vegetables doesn’t always remove them. These pesticides have been linked to a range of serious illnesses and diseases in humans, from respiratory problems to cancer. Also, some foods are more nutritious when organic. For example, a 2014 study found organic food to contain up to 60% more antioxidants than non-organic food.
A smoothie is a drink composed of blended foods. When you blend foods to make a smoothie you still end up consuming the food in its entirety. So, if you blend up a handful of strawberries and bananas your body digests an entire banana and a handful of strawberries.
However, when you juice something, the fibrous portion of the fruit or vegetable is removed. What remains are the micronutrients (and the sugars), in a liquid form. Smoothies tend to be more filling, because of the fibre content and therefore make a good meal replacement.
Fructose is a sugar found in fruit, some vegetables and honey. It is metabolised in our liver and excess consumption gets converted to fat. Excess fructose has been linked to dyslipidemia (high blood triglycerides and cholesterol), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin – resistance and diabetes. However, these negative health issues do not apply to the natural sugars found in whole fruits and vegetables. They apply to a high consumption of refined fructose which is used in sweeteners, food products and soft drinks.
Because they are blended, smoothies are partially pre-digested so it can be easier to access to nutrients, especially if you have digestive issues.
From a nutritional point, there isn’t an optimal time. However, a smoothie with protein can be a good breakfast or snack option and also useful to help recovery after exercise.
A healthier option will contain a mixture of fruit and vegetables and also some added protein to keep you fuller for longer. Watch out for smoothies that are 100% fruit with no vegetables. These tend to be higher in sugar. Sweeteners such as artificial sweeteners, stevia, honey. Added fruit juice which also increased sugar content.
You may be taking in more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which can have a host of health benefits such as increased energy, improved skin and better immunity.
Also there’s the added benefit that you will have an increased intake of fruit and vegetables, the smoothies are easy to digest and they may support immunity due to Vitamin C and antioxidants.
If used as a meal replacement and if the smoothie is not high in calories and contains vegetables and protein as well as fruit it may help with weight loss. This is because smoothies can promote better digestion, hydrate you and reduce appetite. They may reduce cravings by keeping you fuller for longer.
A high-sugar smoothie is better before but one with protein is better after. This is because sugar can fuel your workout and protein can assist recovery.
If it contains protein, it can be very filling.
It’s best to opt for one with a blend of fruit and vegetables plus protein. Also, ensure ingredients are 100% natural. Organic is a bonus.
Yes, in some cases it can be better as freezing them preserves their nutrients until you eat them. Frozen fruit and vegetables will have been picked and preserved at their prime and therefore retain their minerals and vitamins. A Californian study, comparing nutrients in eight different fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables (corn, broccoli, spinach, carrots, peas, green beans, strawberries and blueberries), found no consistent differences between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
On the other hand, many fresh fruits and vegetables are picked before they are ripe. This is to allow them time to fully ripen during transportation. However, it also gives them less time to develop a full range of vitamins, minerals and natural antioxidants. Also, transportation and storage can take up to 12 months for some types of produce. During this time fresh fruit and vegetables may lose some of their valuable nutrients. This is especially true for Vitamin C. Studies have found that for some fruits, freeze drying resulted in higher vitamin C content, when compared to fresh varieties.
They are foods which can be added to smoothies to give them additional health benefits. For example, cocoa nibs are an excellent source of antioxidants which may slow down aging and increase our serotonin levels helping to boost our mood.
The sweetness of the fruit tends to mask any bitterness from vegetables…and vegetables can actually be really delicious (eg sweet potatoes and beetroot) rather than having to be disguised. Give them a try!