So, you decide you want to get healthy and smoothies seem like the obvious choice because they contain nutrients that are highly bio-available.
All of the nutrients have been broken down and are all ready to be digested, no chewing needed. You stop by a local smoothie bar and order up a power Smoothie that is going to increase energy and virility with an added immune booster and some wheat grass to boot.
Unfortunately, you may not be getting the health benefits you thought you were getting or at least the benefits that were advertised. The men and women that market to American consumers know that sugar is the Achilles’ heel of the American public. If you buy something that does not grown in the ground or had a mother, chances are that it is loaded with added sugar.
Why is sugar a problem?
Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, arthritis, and many more conditions are all affected by sugar. Sugar has three main functions in the body.
- Sugar stimulates insulin, insulin produce fat.
- Sugar depresses the immune system.
- Sugar produces INFLAMMATION in the body.
What does this have to do with smoothies?
Americans are overweight. The American Heart Association tells us that in children under 19, 1 in 3 are overweight and 1 in 6 are OBESE. Compared to the 70’s when this author grew up, that’s 5 times the amount of obese children. So let me let you in on a little secret.
If someone wants you to buy something they are going to add sugar to it…. Smoothies included. Yes you get the fruit and the wheat grass and the supposed “virility” but you are getting a heavy dose of sugar.
- A regular coke has 39g of sugar
- According to Robek’s website, 19 out of 33 smoothies, shakes and freezes have 39 grams or more of sugar in their smoothies.
- According to Jamba Juice’s website: 39 out of 64 drinks have 39 grams or more of sugar in their smoothies.
- Remember, this does not even include the naturally occurring carbohydrates from the fruits which are also sugars.
But wait! I make my smoothie at home! Perfect, maybe you don’t add sugar to your smoothies. Let me guess, you start with milk and add strawberries and a banana and some other fruits and maybe some spirulina (which is wonderful by the way) and top it off with some orange juice for vitamin C. This is what I call a “Sugar bomb”. For the majority of Americans this is not a healthy drink. The unrestricted carbohydrates and sugars are having a field day with your pancreas, laying the ground-work for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The following are guidelines for making the perfect smoothie
1. Liquid base:
- This is the first thing you will put into the blender. Please do not use cow milk. For more information on cow’s milk please visit this article. The best liquid is either water or one of the nut milks: hemp milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, rice milk, soy milk.
2. Where’s the protein?
- This is what separates most sugar bombs from healthy smoothies. Protein is necessary for more functions than we can name but for you it will balance blood sugar and protect and strengthen muscles. Consider some hemp, pea or whey protein powder as well.
3. I thought fat was bad!!
- Nope, only bad fat is bad. Bad fat is fat created in laboratories with names like trans fat and hydrogenated oils. If you use a popular commercial brand of peanut butter and the oil isn’t waiting for you on the top when you open it, you have chosen the wrong one. Please throw some natural peanut or almond butter into the smoothie. It will balance the smoothie, stabilize your blood sugar and allow you to absorb fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. If you were a victim of the low-fat craze of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, forget what you heard. Good fat is good.
4. Release the fruit.
- Yes it is sweet and yes it has sugar but don’t worry, the fat will balance it out. Please indulge in some berries and bananas or kiwis or whatever other fruit you like.
5. Well, I never!
- Consider putting a GREEN in your smoothie. I know it sounds crazy but remember we have all the fruit to sweeten the deal. A mini handful of raw spinach or a half of a leaf of kale will be both undetectable and extremely healthy.
6. Calling all statins:
a. Let’s say you have high cholesterol. Well now is the time to add some steel cut oats. Please stay away from the instant or microwave, the closer these oats are to the original source the better. Oats have a unique ability to grab the bad cholesterol and pull it out of the body. Combine that with some healthy fish oils and a balanced diet and you may be saying good by to your statin forever.
7. Now for the fun part:
- Here is where we add whatever makes us happy: Wheat grass, spirulina, goji berries, acai, very berry, or anything else you want to put in your smoothie. Remember, you have balanced your smoothie out with protein, good fat, and fiber. So have fun.
The absolute most important part about making a smoothie is that you enjoy it. My smoothie will taste different than your smoothie but both will be healthy, as long as they are balanced and are not “sugar bombs”.
Let’s just say that one of my readers finds a hole in the wall smoothie bar that has protein, fat, and vegetable fiber. What then? Well, if they are also organic, please sit down and have a smoothie. If not, go home and make a completely organic smoothie from your refrigerator. If the food you put in your smoothie is not organic, your are concentrating pesticides and we know that can’t be good. Have fun and blend away.