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Smoothies Anyone?

It is not unusual for friends or family members to greet me with a smile and ask, “Would you like a smoothie?” Most of the time, they are jazzed because when they drink smoothies, they believe they are making healthy choices. And many times smoothies can be a healthy option – but there is another side. What are the pros of smoothies?

  1. Smoothies offer a great way to sneak the dark green leafy vegetables into a delicious drink. The two popular mild-flavored greens are spinach and baby kale. They will turn almost any drink green but oftentimes, the flavor does not dominate the drink.
  2. Smoothies are a good way to get food from all five food groups. What about a drink made with raw oatmeal from the grain group, pineapple from the fruit group, cucumbers from the vegetable group, yogurt to represent calcium foods and silken tofu to represent the protein group. Add a little water or ice and a little sweetener and you can have an amazing smoothie.
  3. Smoothies can be a great source of fiber that comes from the fruits and veggies. In addition, whole grains can also contribute to a smoothie. It is recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that we should get 25 grams of fiber a day but the average American adult gets about 12 grams. Adding wholesome plant foods to a smoothie can help increase fiber content.
  4. Smoothies help us get nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D from the dairy ingredients and other vitamin and minerals from fruits and vegetables.

What is the downside of smoothies?

  1. Smoothies can pack a lot of hidden calories. Some smoothies may have over 1,000 calories while others can be about 250 calories. And if we consume a 16-ouncer, calories can increase significantly. Using ingredients such as whole coconut milk, peanut butter, nuts and avocado are healthy choices and should be used in small amounts. Other ingredients like ice cream or frozen yogurt can increase the sugar and fat content.
  2. Ingredients such as cookies, sugary syrups, chocolate, and cookie dough can drive up the sugar content. Some smoothies can have more than 10 teaspoons of sugar. And if you consume a large smoothie, the amount of sugar can double.
  3. When we drink our calories, we may end up consuming more calories than we realize and face hungry a couple of hours later. And to satisfy our hunger, we snack and increase calorie intake further.

A few points to remember:

Smoothies can replace a meal. The best ones include ingredients such as protein and a small amount of fat. Smoothies can also make a great snack. These calories should be kept lower. If you choose to drink smoothies, drink them responsibly… and be creative!

Pamela Williams writes from Southern California.

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About Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

is a dietitian in Southern California.

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