What to Leave out of Your Green Smoothie
When you see how easy throwing ingredients in the blender is, you may be tempted to start adding more — and more and more. But not everything you find in your fridge, freezer, or pantry should go into your green smoothies. Remember, the goal of the green smoothie is to make a healthy, nutrient-dense drink that boosts your vitamin and mineral reserve.
Keep that goal in mind as you consider a few ingredients that are best left out.
Ditching dairy: Yogurt, milk, and cottage cheese
Whether or not dairy products are considered healthy is definitely a source of some controversy in the health and diet world. Whether to consume or not consume dairy products is a decision you should make on your own based on what feels best for you. You probably should keep dairy products out of your green smoothies.
Dairy products generate a lot of excess mucous through the process of digestion, and excess mucous can slow down digestion and absorption. Remember, the goal of drinking a green smoothie every day is to get more nutrients in your diet. If you add an ingredient that slows down absorption, you’re losing a lot of the nutritional value of the smoothie.
Why not keep your green smoothie dairy-free and allow your gut to absorb all its goodness?
Keeping your smoothie dairy-free also keeps the calorie count lower, and that’s a good thing for anyone trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. If you choose to eat dairy products, that’s okay; just eat them at another time of day in a separate meal or as a snack.
Refusing refined sugar
You’re probably not surprised to read that today’s diet, health, and medical experts recommend limiting refined sugar intake. Excess sugar in the diet can lead to a wide range of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Even if you don’t actually add sugar to your food, it’s hidden in a lot of packaged foods such as Greek yogurt (especially the flavored kind), health drinks, cereals, condiments (such as ketchup), and even bottled “vitamin” water. Keep a sharp eye on the ingredients lists of products you put in your smoothie.
You absolutely don’t need to add refined sugar to a green smoothie. You’re only adding unnecessary calories devoid of any nutritional value. Besides, green smoothies already taste sweet from the natural sugars in fruit. And they’re full of dietary fiber, which helps the body regulate sugar intake at a healthy, natural pace.
Adding ice to a smoothie isn’t the worst thing you can do, but it’s not the best way to make a healthy smoothie, either. When you consume really cold or iced food, your stomach has to work extra hard just to heat the food back up inside your body. That weakens your digestive fire, and all those nutritious greens, high-fiber fruits, and powerful superfoods may not absorb properly. Digestion is slow, and indigestion can follow.
If you want a cool drink, blend with cold water instead of using ice. As an occasional treat on a hot day, you can add some frozen fruit to your smoothie, but take your time eating it. Let the smoothie warm up in your mouth a bit before swallowing, allowing the enzymes in your saliva to start the predigestive process in your mouth.
As the ancient texts of Ayurvedic medicine say, “Drink your food and chew your drinks.”
Putting the brakes on protein powders
Protein powders are proteins extracted from certain foods such as peas, soy, whey, or rice to make a highly concentrated dietary supplement. Consuming high concentrations of extracted proteins in powdered form is a relatively new diet trend. Certainly, these powders haven’t been used by traditional cultures around the world for centuries like superfoods have.
The danger in eating high concentrations of any food that isn’t in its whole, natural form is that your body may not be able to handle it. Not to mention the fact that many protein powders contain synthetic chemicals, added sugar, and artificial flavorings.
Newer evidence shows that using protein powders can increase your risk of kidney disease and kidney stones. Some studies even suggest that some protein powders are contaminated with heavy metals. High-protein diets have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Because these powders are so new, it may take some time for all the evidence to come out. In the meantime, why take a risk?
Avoid protein powders and get your protein from real, whole food such as organic eggs and meat. Of course, you can find plenty of natural protein in vegan and vegetarian whole foods such as seeds, nuts, spirulina, green leafy vegetables, alfalfa sprouts, sunflower sprouts, and legumes.
If you decide to use protein powders, choose 100 percent certified organic and look for a reputable brand. Definitely avoid any cheap generic supplements covered with lots of weight loss or muscle-building claims.
Even within the better brands, you should always avoid certain types of protein powders. Check the ingredients before buying; if the product contains pea protein, yeast extract, natural flavors, and/or artificial flavors, walk away.
Pea protein and yeast extract are additives with a high glutamate content and can cause headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness in people who are sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG). Natural flavors can contain hidden forms of MSG, and artificial flavors can definitely contain MSG. None of those items makes for a healthy smoothie ingredient. When in doubt, leave it out!