Smoothies – Sweet Healthy Treats Right or Wrong?
Sweet Healthy Treats: In the glorious summertime, nothing sounds better than a refreshing fruit smoothie; something to relieve the heat while also giving you your daily dose of fruit. It seems like a healthy alternative to ice cream or popsicles, right? WRONG. Although smoothies are delicious, they might not be as nutritious as you originally believed. They often are packed with unnecessary sugars, artificial flavors, and hidden fats.
What Makes Smoothies Unhealthy?
It’s all about the ingredients. Most smoothie shops offer smoothies that are more about the sweet flavor than the health benefits. This means that they pack more “sweet stuff” into your drink; things like sorbet, juice, ice cream, whipped cream, corn syrup, or whole milk. Although these ingredients add a delicious flavor, they also add unwanted calories. In fact, most commercial smoothies run between 200 and 600 calories – that’s more than a soda in some cases!
Smoothies can also be unhealthy when they are packed with too many ingredients. Yes, you want the main ingredient in your smoothie to be fruit, but when a smoothie has more than 2 cups of fruit then you are in the danger zone. Basically, you’ve hit too much of a good thing. It’s not that the extra fruit will be bad for you; it’s that extra fruit brings extra calories and NOT extra flavor. When it comes to smoothies, less is more. Our bodies process liquid calories a little bit differently than solid calories; perhaps it’s because we don’t get full on liquids as easily as we do on solids. This being the case, we often drink more than we should, which leads to unnecessary calories from your favorite fruity blends.
Beware of “boosters” and “sugar-free” smoothies too! At many smoothie shops, you will find options that are supposed to be better for you: things like “sugar-free” drinks or smoothies with a “vitamin c booster.” What’s the problem here? Most “boosters” contain more chemicals than the actual vitamin or mineral they advertise. Often, the vitamin or mineral is also lower quality than found in most foods, so your body can’t actually absorb it. Smoothies that claim to be “sugar-free” are usually sweetened with harmful artificial sweeteners instead- things like aspartame or sucralose. These sweeteners may cut your calorie count, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy for you.
How to “Healthify” Your Smoothie:
First, it is important to ask about the ingredients in your smoothie. If you are buying a smoothie from a chain store, ask what exactly is being mixed into that cup. The results may surprise you, but it’s better to be surprised than to be tricked into hidden calories. The best option is to make your smoothies at home because then you can control exactly what goes into that cup.
It’s also a good idea to hide vegetables in your smoothie. There are a lot of ingredients out there that can add vitamins and minerals without significantly changing the flavor of your smoothie. Examples include things like kale, spinach, or avocado. After a little googling you should be able to find some delicious recipes for green smoothies that include ingredients like these.
Like I previously mentioned, less is more. Don’t let the liquid form of the ingredients fool you: there are a lot of calories in a 24 oz. smoothie! I recommend drinking 16 oz. or less at one time – then you will get the health benefits of your fruit as well as the sweet and cold treat you’re craving!