Special to the NNPA from The Chicago Defender
There is a huge difference between a fruit smoothie you blend up at home and the concoctions you can get at your local retail shop. Yes, smoothies are loaded with fruit, and fruit is healthy. They can also be a wonderful, incredible, delicious component of a healthy diet, containing other “good for you” ingredients and nutrients that will leave you feeling satisfied.
However, a typical smoothie can also be packed with juice, yogurt, and sometimes, even sorbet. When you blend these ingredients together with the natural sugars found in fruit, you have yourself one sugary drink. Not to mention, hidden calories.
Keep Calories Low
To keep calories low, stick to fruit, juices and nonfat dairy products. Beware when you see chocolate, heavy syrup, premium ice cream, peanut butter or whole milk on the ingredient list. Other danger flags are coconut, honey, coconut cream, fruit nectar, and protein powder. These are destined to go straight to your waistline, without passing your digestive tract.
You can increase your vitamin and mineral value by choosing a smoothie with honeydew melon, or cantaloupe, any kind of berries, kiwis, bananas, low fat yogurt or milk and orange or other fruit juices. In addition, choose whole fruit whenever possible, to increase the fiber content and increase satisfaction by giving a feeling of fullness.
One thing to keep in mind is that not every smoothie is created equally. Some are dairy free while others are packed with it. Therefore, the calorie count and nutritional content of each smoothie will differ. Also, size does matter when it comes to a smoothie!
Tip: You can shave several calories off your smoothie by going with the smaller size.
It is also important that you don’t view a smoothie as a drink that supplements your meal. If you order a sandwich for lunch then run next door to wash it down with a smoothie, you are essentially consuming 2 meals. With this mindset, you could seriously impede your weight loss efforts. A smoothie should either be viewed as breakfast or as an occasional treat.
Keep The Price Low
Many smoothie franchises advertise special ingredients called “boosters” or “enhancers” touted as healthy additions to the basic smoothie. Some outlets may claim such health miracles as “cure a hangover” ” promote healing”, “burns fat”, “increases immunity”, “restores vitality” etc. Naturally, they come with an additional price tag. Many of these extra ingredients cost 50 cents a pop, which can increase a $3.00 smoothie to a $5.00 price tag quickly.
What are some of these “extra nutrition additives” and are they worth paying for?
One of the reasons consumers are drawn to smoothies is because of the additional supplements that are used to “boost” the nutritional content. In actuality, the supplements often used in smoothies are genetically modified and contain lots of chemical fillers and other synthetic ingredients. The actual nutrient being tooted, like vitamin C, is usually one of the last items on the ingredient list, and is generally of poor quality (meaning absorption rates and nutritional benefit are questionable).
Your sudden surge of energy is more likely from the sugar than the booster nutrient!
The best way to ensure a “booster” is indeed a healthy option is to make the retailer accountable for its ingredients. The ultimate scenario is that the retailer is using a smoothie booster made from highly raw and organic whole foods in powder form, without any added chemicals. That way, the vitamins and minerals are all naturally occurring and easily absorbed in the body.
Aloe Vera Juice. The famous burn remedy, appearing regularly as a miracle cure for a wide range of ailments. There is no scientific proof that swallowing it cures or treats anything. Not only that, some of the constituents may be carcinogenic and it could cause severe cramping, diarrhea and bleeding, in its form as a laxative.
Chromium Picolinate. This one is touted as a fat burning, muscle building substance, again with no scientific proof. It cannot increase lean muscle mass, only lifting weights can do that, and it has no curative effect on diabetes, as some claims assert.
Acidophilus. This is a good source of beneficial intestinal bacteria, valuable for assisting digestion, but is also the active ingredient in yogurt, so if your smoothie is yogurt based you can skip this additive.
Spirulina. Highly touted to do everything from cure acne to impotence, “purify blood” and cures most diseases. It is of little proven benefit. It does have a few vitamins, but not as much, nor as valuable as most fruits. Chlorophyll, one of its main ingredients, is of benefit to plants, not humans.
Ginkgo Biloba. Claims are it improves blood flow and circulatory disorders, prevents or cures absent-mindedness, memory loss, and dementia. Don’t I wish? Actual studies show it may have limited benefits for some Alzheimer’s patients, no proven benefit for others.
Ginseng. Another ingredient that’s been making miracle cure claims for ages. No evidence that it does anything.
You may also see such enticing offerings as amino acids, echinacea, brewers’ yeast, wheat grass and who knows how many other worthless at best additives advertised. Don’t bother, you can spend a fortune on such expensive herbal and nutritional supplements in any health food store with equal questionable benefit.
Enjoy A Smarter Smoothie!