What started out as a fad has morphed into a trend. With juice bars and smoothie shops popping up on street corners, in food courts and even on food trucks, it appears smoothies and juices are here to stay.
Cold, thick, green smoothies, in particular, are at the center of many diets, cleanses and health blogs. Packed with nutrition and easy to digest, these beverages are also rising to the top of celebrity endorsements.
Corinne Goff, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist who owns Be the Change Nutrition, in North Kingstown, believes green smoothies are an enticing way for people who struggle to eat vegetables to get additional nutrients.
“Drinking superfood smoothies increases the nutrient density of your diet,” Goff says. “Greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, meaning they provide a large dose of nutrition for very few calories.”
The three most commonly used leafy greens are spinach, kale and collard greens, and are all packed with vitamins A, C and K, as well as some B vitamins, iron and calcium. The smoothies are typically blended with milk, yogurt, water or coconut water, and fruit such as bananas, avocados or berries can be added for additional health benefits and hydration.
“The key is to use superfood smoothies to replace less healthy foods,” Goff said. “If you can reduce lower-nutrient foods, such as refined sugar, flour and hydrogenated oils, and increase more whole-plant foods, you give your body a better opportunity to maintain a healthy body weight, more energy, better sleep, and a reduced risk of many diseases.”
However, as with everything, green smoothies are great in moderation.
“For those who eat salads and/or a variety of vegetables daily, there really is no need to add green smoothies,” Goff said. “Someone looking to incorporate green smoothies [also] needs to be mindful of their medication. Certain medications, like blood thinners, require a diet low in vitamin K. For those people, I would not recommend drinking green smoothies.”
For those new to green smoothies and interested in incorporating them into their diet, starting off with spinach helps develop a taste for stronger-tasting greens such as kale, watercress and Swiss chard. There are also many green powders, like Amazing Grass, that contain additional green ingredients, like wheat grass, spirulina and chlorella.
“The ingredients of your smoothie depends on whether the smoothie itself is a meal or a beverage with food,” Goff said. “For example, if you plan to drink a basic green superfood smoothie along with eating an omelet in the morning, that should satisfy your hunger since the eggs are a protein and fat source. To make your green smoothie a drinkable meal, be sure to add ingredients that contain protein and fat.”
Examples of healthy fat and protein sources include peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, coconut butter or a high-quality protein powder.
Given its bright green color, having your first green smoothie can be intimidating. But with the right ingredients, you’re sure to enjoy this tasty and healthy drink.
Here’s one to try:
1 cup spinach or kale, not packed
1 1/2 cups mixed frozen berries
2 tablespoons rolled oats
1 cup almond milk
1 cup crushed ice
Blend it all together for two minutes and enjoy!
For more information on Corinne Goff, RD, LDN, and Be the Change Nutrition, visit btcnutrition.com.
STEPHANIE ROSS, of Boston, is a public relations professional and freelance writer.