Monday, 23 September 2013

Smoothies – Are they really a health risk?

Smoothies have been in the news again recently, and not in a good way. Not so long ago they were hailed as a healthy drink choice. But now they’re being lambasted as a ‘health risk’, with US scientists declaring they're as bad for our teeth as a full 'fat' can of Coke!

To be honest, I rarely buy smoothies when I’m out. Not because I don’t like, them. Indeed, there are some fantastically tasty fruit combinations out there. It’s just that they have far too many calories in them.

But are smoothies really so bad for our health? Well, according to scientists, the worst problem is the sugar content, with some containing as much sugar as sweetened fizzy drinks. Drink too many and we'll end up gaining weight.

That may be true. However, the majority of smoothies on the market don't have any added refined sugar. Their sugar content is purely from the fruit - fructose. This is why they taste so good, because they're naturally sweet.

But they are still high in sugar, particularly because smoothies contain fruit puree with no added water. This creates a thicker, more concentrated drink. Higher sugar means more calories, and consuming too much of the stuff can end up stored as fat.

However, fructose is a slow releasing sugar whereas refined white sugar is fast releasing. This means drinking a smoothie is less like to cause a spike in blood sugar levels. High blood sugar spikes can leave you craving sweet or fatty foods very soon after finishing.

With regards to the overall nutrition, you can’t compare a fruit smoothie ‘like for like' with a can of cola. The smoothie provides valuable vitamins and minerals which simply aren't found in a can of fizzy pop. Smoothies can also be a tasty way to get a daily portion of fruit, especially helpful for those who don’t like or won’t eat fresh whole fruit.

So, should you give up your smoothies if you want to be healthy? 

If you're trying to lose weight, then drinking a whole bottle of shop bought smoothie on a daily basis may not be very helpful. Ideally, you want to further slow down the sugar release. A good way of doing this is to eat some protein. For example, a chicken or tuna salad together with a smoothie will help slow down the sugar release to help keep you feeling fuller. Other helpful protein snacks include nuts (a few) or low fat, no added sugar yogurt.

Of course, you can make your own at home and add natural yogurt to create a creamier smoothie. Make it even more nutritious by adding healthy seeds (flaxseed, hemp, etc) or oats and turn it into a healthy breakfast.

One last tip, if you buy big cartons of your favourite smoothie to drink at home, invest in some small glasses - no more than 100ml in size. Make these your smoothie glasses and pour yourself ONE glass only!

Read more of the article here:

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