Vegetable smoothies - Fad or fab?
Drinking colourful smoothies has increasingly become a trendy habit and its popularity nowadays is undeniable. Many people are consuming vegetable blends every day or several times a week in an attempt to boost their health and well-being.
Fresh smoothies are typically made by blending raw leafy vegetables with fruit that usually add a creamy texture and sweetness. Common vegetables included are kale, baby spinach, celery, broccoli, rocket salad leafs, collard chard and parsley.
Find the right balance
Regular consumption of vegetable smoothies can provide you with great health benefits. No doubt about it. We all need plenty of fresh vegetables in our diet and considering most of us live a very busy life with a limited or no time to cook or even eat good quality meals, drinking smoothies is a great way of increasing the intake and variety of fresh vegetables (just to remind you the recommended amount is six to eight servings of vegetables per day). These blends are typically very high in unique phytonutrients naturally found in all plants as well as vital micronutrients that many of us are lacking. Freshly made smoothies are rich in vitamins, minerals and natural enzymes, all of which is easily absorbed into our system without having to be broken down by often compromised digestive processes. Such drinks can therefore revitalise your energy levels within as little as 20 minutes.
But. There is always a but.
Raw leafy greens, e.g. spinach and kale, are also commonly high in oxalates, also known as oxalic acid. These substances are strong acids and can become problematic if consumed in very high amounts in individuals with a genetic tendency to overproduce oxalates (one in five people). These oxalate crystals can be deposited in any tissue resulting in pain; however the key site for problems with overaccumulation is the kidneys, contributing to a stone formation. Furthermore, oxalates can also bind to several vital minerals to form compounds, including calcium and iron oxalates, which means they can contribute to insufficient absorption of these crucial nutrients into our body.
Everything is about moderation and the right balance. Whether you are an experienced smoothie lover or a complete beginner, carry on making delicious blends. However, aim for a wider variety of plants and remember to rotate their sources as often as possible. Use your creativity and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Basic guidelines to nutritious smoothies
- The base (liquid): filtered water, coconut water, cooled green tea, nut milk (hemp, cashew, coconut).
- Greens (vegetable): spinach, kale, collards, romaine, rocket, cucumber, celery, beetroot, carrot, red cabbage.
- Boost your energy (fruit): pear, banana, pineapple, orange, lemon, mango, berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries etc.), apple, papaya, pineapple, avocado.
- Superfoods (bonus booster): chia seeds, protein powder, Maca powder, raw cocoa nibs, coconut oil, virgin olive oil, avocado oil, nut butter, cinnamon, Spirulina, Chlorella, barley grass, wheatgrass, Baobab powder, fresh ginger root, fresh turmeric root, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds, walnuts, cashew nuts, 1tsp apple cider vinegar, fermented
Better and healthier smoothie options are based mainly on vegetables. Aim for three portions of vegetables (e.g. avocado, rocket leafs, celery) and 1 portion of fruit (e.g. pear). Always add a whole lemon as it helps to cover the “veggie taste” and gives you a nice fruity flavor.
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