I bet you’ve had one or two smoothies at some point in your life, haven’t you? Maybe you have one or more every week or every day. Whether homemade or shop-bought, there is a flavour for everyone, no matter their age or flavour preferences. But, the most important question is are smoothies more naughty than nice?
Smoothies are regarded as one of the most healthiest drinks, and, indeed, they’re usually jam packed with fruit and, oftentimes, veg.
As long as they don’t have any added sugars, they seem to be harmless. As for fizzy drinks, they’re the ones we need to avoid. Those bad bad fizzys!
Take, for example, Coca-Cola. The company’s famous drink, which had an operating income of 10.09 billion US dollars last year, is, like many other fizzy drinks, well known for containing excessive amounts of sugar.
In fact, I checked on a UK supermarket’s website and discovered that one 250ml can contains 27 grams. That’s just under seven teaspoons. To put this into context, the American Heart Association says that women should consume no more than six teaspoons per day.
So, smoothies are healthier, right? Let’s find out.
Smoothies’ Little Secret
Smoothies are healthier in terms of their ingredients, but for some, their sugar content isn’t any better than Coke. Let’s take innocent drinks as an example. It’s rather ironic that they’re called ‘innocent’.
I hopped onto innocent’s website to check its ingredients, and you’ll never guess what I discovered: It’s 250ml bottles contain more sugar than the can of Coke.
You heard that right. More.
Coke has 27 grams, while innocent’s magnificent mango has 28 grams. Its totally tropical drink contains 30 grams, and its pomegranate magic has a whopping 33 grams per 250mls.
But fruit sugar is, overall, much healthier, I hear you say. And you’re correct. It is healthier, but the best way to consume it is as part of the whole fruit.
When you blend fruit, the sugar is released from the fruit’s cells. Once that happens, the sugars are considered free sugars, and free sugars are the exact sugars that many people consume in copious, and scary, amounts.
Everyday sugar, honey, maple syrup and any kind of sugar that you can add to food are also considered free sugars. So, if fruit sugar is also considered a free sugar once it has been released from its cell, consuming large amounts will have the same effect as consuming large amounts of any kind of added sugar.
This means that not only do people need to be careful about the amount of added sugar they consume, but they also need to be mindful of the number of smoothies they drink, particularly the fruit-only smoothies.
Where does this leave you? If you drink one or more fruit-loaded smoothies every day, you’re putting more sugar into your body than you realise.
And it makes no difference whether you buy a smoothie or make it yourself. Think about it, if you eat one or two oranges, that will probably be enough to leave you feeling satisfied. But when you juice oranges, you need three or four to fill one glass.
That’s a lot more sugar than necessary, especially if you’re drinking two or three glasses every day, plus you don’t get the fibre that you’d normally get when eating the whole fruit.
I’m not saying that you should now stop drinking smoothies. Part of my job is to impart information so that you’re more aware. From there, you can decide on your next course of action. I’m not here to try to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.
Also, smoothies are better than fruit juice because the pulp is often retained, whereas with fruit juice, it’s discarded.
Your best bet is to make your own and add some fat to slow down your body’s absorption of the fruits’ (released) sugars, especially if you drink large amounts. This could be in the form of a few nuts or seeds and/or avocado, which, although a fruit, is super low in sugar. Or, you can munch on a few nuts while eating your shop-bought one.
An even better idea would be to avoid drinking too many fruit-only smoothies or reduce the amount of fruits you add to them and always blend them with fat and protein.
So smoothies are definitely healthy?
They’re certainly healthier than a drink that contains lots of unhealthy ingredients or added sugars. If you asked me to help you decide between a smoothie and a fizzy drink, even if it were a diet one, I’d tell you to go for the smoothie every time.
At least you’d be getting some fruit and veg in you, providing it’s not a shop-bought one that contains extra added sugars. But, if you want to lose weight, quit sugar or simply cut down on your sugar intake, you’d be wise to not go overboard.
Depending on its ingredients, your chosen smoothie might have quite a few calories in it. Drink too many alongside your usual meals, and you may scupper your weight loss plans. And if you’re aiming to keep added sugars out of your diet because you’re addicted to sugar, you might end up using smoothies as a replacement and not quite reach your sugar-reduction goals.
If you’re ready to quit sugar and need some help, click on the link below: