Smoothies may be quick, convenient and versatile, but it can also be tricky to actually make them in a way that is healthy. They should provide a hefty dose of fibre and micronutrients to promote good digestive health, balance the gut microbiome and boost the immune system. But whether a smoothie is healthy or not depends on what you put in it. When it comes to smoothies, you could get something unhealthy that still ticks the boxes above. I’m going to show to show you how to make a healthy smoothie, for real.
What makes smoothies unhealthy?
- Processed fruit juices, like orange or apple juice, as the liquid base for your smoothie.
- Adding sorbet or ice cream to your smoothie (and yes, people do this)
- A smoothie made of just fruit is probably delicious, but is not at all a good replacement for a balanced meal.
- Raw eggs or raw egg whites. Salmonella is a thing and this is a sure fire way to increase your risk of contracting it.
- Liquid calories are still calories, and if you’re drinking more calories than you would normally eat in a meal is going to give you more energy than you need.
- Overdoing dates, honey, nut butter and other delicious and nutrient-packed ingredients, which are often found in smoothie recipes. Whilst these are healthy, be mindful of the quantities you use to avoid consuming excessive amounts of fats and sugar.
How to make a healthy smoothie
Your starting point is to make your own smoothies to avoid unnecessary added sugar that is often present in supermarket-bought smoothies.
If you know me, you’ve seen the formula I use to build a plate of food. You should also incorporate these four major elements when you make your smoothie. Make sure it contains protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and colour in the form of fruit and veggies.
This might sound strange, but you should be able to chew your smoothie. The process of digestion begins in the mouth and chewing your food thoroughly encourages the production of saliva, enzymes and gastric juices to maximise digestion and nutrient absorption. You can achieve this simply by not over-blending your smoothie.
For an anti-inflammatory boost, try adding herbs and spices such as mint, parsley, ginger or turmeric. For a dose of gut-healthy probiotics, add Greek or natural-style yoghurt. And if you want to have some fun, add in extra nutritional supplements like collagen powder, protein powder or spirulina for even more health properties!
Once your smoothie is made, remember that there is a correct way to drink it. Don’t chug it down, but don’t linger over it either. Drink your smoothie over the same amount of time it would take you to eat a meal. This will help to avoid indigestion and keep you feeling more satiated. It can take 20 minutes or more for the brain to register that you are full. If you drink your smoothie too fast, you might not realise that you’ve had enough and, subsequently, drink more than you need to or reach for additional food and drinks to fill you up.
4 healthy smoothie combos to get you started
- Banana + milk + oats + peanut butter + spinach
- Blueberries + natural yoghurt + chia seeds + cucumber + a splash of water
- Mango + kale + soy milk + LSA (ground linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds)
- Pineapple + avocado + natural yoghurt + mint + a splash of water
So there you have it! Making smoothies, and making them healthy, is easy if you know what not to do and if you follow the steps above. If you’re interested in more delicious combos and recipes, as well as quick-fire nutrition tips and tricks, follow me on Facebook.