By Rita Savkina
What’s the difference between buying a healthy smoothies and making one at home? There are no hidden sugars or calories when you’re the one making them! All you need is a blender, your favorite fruits and/or vegetables, and a base (such as water, juice, milk or yogurt). Making your own smoothies prevents fruit from going bad while keeping you on the right track toward good health. This week for Be Better start Blending!
Fruit and veggie smoothies provide you with nutrition, vitamins, minerals, healthy carbohydrates, fiber and low-fat whole foods that you need in your daily diet. When I’m on a tight schedule and don’t feel like eating a heavy meal, I blend up some fruits and veggies instead. You can also use the healthy properties of smoothies to lose weight in a safe and effective way without starving yourself. Healthy Smoothies are great for post-workout nutrition.
After drinking “green” smoothies for a few weeks, I’ve noticed that my craving for junk food is greatly reduced and that I’ve actually begun craving healthy food options. That’s a great change in my food habits! A smoothie a day can aid digestion, improve sleep, assist muscle formation and detox your liver. Plus, with this high in nutritional value, you’ll have glowing, clearer skin; stronger and softer hair; and an energy and brain boost!
Let me break it down for you: Six categories of fruits contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that you need every day to live a healthy and energy–filled lifestyle: citrus, berries, tropical, drupes (fruits with a pit inside), pomes (such as apples) and melons.
Grapefruits, oranges and lemons are all citrus fruits, which are high in vitamin C, potassium and folate. Folate helps promote healthy cell growth, while vitamin C helps your immune system and eyesight, and – believe it or not – protects your skin from wrinkling. Potassium supports your heart function and helps maintain your blood pressure.
In the berry category are blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries and grapes. They contain particular antioxidants that decrease inflammation (i.e., reduce bloating) and phytonutrients that fight harmful viruses and bacteria.
Tropical fruits include papayas, kiwis, pineapples, avocados, coconuts, pomegranates, bananas and mangoes. These fruits are good sources of vitamin C, potassium, folate and manganese – which helps keep your bones, blood sugar, thyroid gland and nerves healthy.
Drupes are cherries, apricots, peaches and plums. They provide beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C. Beta carotene helps your vision and immune system function properly.
Pomes include apples and pears, which contain fiber, vitamin C and potassium.
The melon category includes watermelons, cantaloupes and honey dew, which are also a good source of vitamin C.
If you want to incorporate vegetables into your smoothies, then I recommend using greens such as kale, beet greens, chard, spinach, carrot greens and lettuce. The soluble fiber found in vegetables boosts your metabolism, helps control blood sugar and lowers cholesterol. If you’re a coffee drinker, then you’ll be getting a natural dose of caffeine through the green smoothies, and you won’t even get the jitters and crash! If you decide to add water, the smoothie will provide your body with fluid, required to metabolize food and transport nutrients as well as keep you hydrated. If you choose to use anything dairy, I’d go for low-fat milk because it creates a creamy texture when mixed with the fruits and veggies, as well as keeps the fat level down. But at the same time, you get your calcium and vitamin D!
Skip buying your smoothie from the grocery store; it will surely save you money and calories. According to the Chicago Tribune article, “Fruit Juices and Smoothies: Dangerous for Your Health?” the common smoothies and juices that Americans buy are Odwalla, Naked and Jamba Juice. But guess what? They’re all owned by Coca-Cola and Pepsico. The fact that soda companies own something that we connote as a “healthy” alternative makes it seem less healthy. According to the article, only about 10 percent of the smoothie or juice is made up of actual raw fruit or vegetable juice. So what’s the rest made up of? Again, it’s all about the hidden sugars! Either way, we should always be aware of what we eat or drink.
I have been incorporating smoothies into my eating habits ever since I bought a blender. Creating my own healthy, fresh smoothies is my go-to after a workout or when I’m in a rush to get to work. If you’re looking to shed some pounds quickly, I recommend the Cooking Light “Smoothies Under 250 Calories,” which provides healthy smoothie recipes that incorporate a wide range of fruits and vegetables with a calorie count lower than 250. If you’re looking for fun and tasty green smoothies, then Elle magazine’s “Green Smoothies You’ll Actually Want To Drink” provides creative alternatives for healthy smoothies, such as the “Mojito Smoothie” (it does not contain any alcohol, of course) and the “Reese’s Spinach Smoothie” for all you candy lovers. Smoothies don’t have to taste like grass and be dry: They can be a pleasurable way of kick-starting your day!