You might have heard about green smoothies, but have you ever tasted one?
If not, you might want to reconsider. Here is a short list of why you will gladly add a green smoothie to your daily diet. Two recipes are provided, but feel free to substitute any of your favorite fruits or vegetables.
To Lose Weight: When I work with weight loss patients, one of the easiest ways for them to start losing weight is to add more fruits, vegetables and water to their daily diets. The most successful weight loss clients are now eating a total of 8 to 10 servings of fruit or vegetables daily.
To Calm an Out-of-Control Appetite: The reason you are always hungry is because you are not fueling your body with foods that nourish it. You can munch on baked potato chips and diet soda all day long, but you will constantly feel hungry because your body wants vitamins and minerals. When you drink a green smoothie, you will almost instantly notice that your appetite is more in control.
To Stop Sweet Cravings: When you are craving sweets, you might think your body wants a soda or a candy bar, but you are wrong. Your body is sending you the signal that it wants fruit. Weight loss clients who start eating 3 (1/2 cup) servings of fruit daily report their cravings for sugar and sweets go away. Both of the recipes below contain at least 3 servings of fruit per smoothie.
To Decrease Your Risk of Cancer: Antioxidants are the anti-cancer phytochemicals found in fruit in vegetables. We all have free radicals in our body, which can potentially cause cancer. When we eat foods with antioxidants, the antioxidants bind to the free radicals and neutralize them, therefore reducing your risk of getting cancer.
To Decrease Your Risk of Heart Disease: A high-fiber diet can help lower your cholesterol level to reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Losing excess body fat, as already mentioned, also keeps your heart from having to work so hard.
Absorb More Nutrients: You might already be a good fruit and vegetable eater, but to get the maximum nutritional benefit, the cell walls of greens must be broken down. To fully break down the cell walls, you need to chew the greens until they are almost a liquid, which would take a very long time. Let your blender do the work for you.
To Have More Energy: Chlorophyll is the sun’s energy absorbed through plants to give them their bright green color. Chlorophyll is able to deliver oxygen throughout your body. It is also a detoxifying agent, because it binds to heavy metals and toxins in your body. You will find that when you consume more dark green vegetables, you also experience an increase in your energy level. An easy way to get more greens into your diet is by drinking green smoothies.
To Look Amazing: Your hair, skin and nails all will begin to look better. The cleansing and detoxifying ability of dark green vegetables helps with the elimination of toxins and establishes a healthy intestinal lining. Because of this, many people find their acne will clear up, hair becomes shinier and softer, and nails become stronger and grow faster.
To Prevent Constipation: Regular consumption of fiber is crucial to your health. It is recommended that adults eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily, yet most Americans consume only 10 to 12 grams per day. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools, moving them through the gastrointestinal tract swiftly, discouraging the growth of harmful bacteria in your colon to decrease your risk of getting colon cancer.
You’re Too Busy to Eat Breakfast: Even if you usually rush through your morning and forget to eat breakfast, you probably can squeeze in 3 minutes to make a smoothie. The trick is to have all of your fruits and vegetables ready to go. Freezing fruit is a great way to make a thick, milkshake-like smoothie.
Bonus: Kids love them, too!
Although both recipes call for spinach, feel free to substitute other dark greens, such as kale, collard or beet greens. If you don’t love your green smoothie the first time you make it, that’s OK. Because it takes 8 to 10 attempts at a new food before we accept it, it might take several smoothies for you to actually say you enjoy them.
Creamy Green Smoothie
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup apple or pineapple juice
1 large ripe banana (frozen without the peeling)
1/2 of a ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed
6 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt
Put all ingredients into blender, adding the spinach first. Blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 301 calories, 19 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fat, 7.1 grams fiber.
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1 1/2 cups frozen berries raspberries, blueberries or strawberries
1 medium ripe banana (frozen without the peel)
6 ounces blueberry Greek yogurt
1 cup skim or 1 percent milk or 100 percent fruit juice
Put all ingredients into blender, adding spinach first. Blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 200 calories, 18 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrate,
2 grams fat, 8.1 grams fiber.
Jill Fleming is a registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic Health System’s Center for Woman’s Health in Onalaska.