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These days, you can get ‘healthy green’ smoothies in most cafes. We know that soft drinks, cordials and sports drinks contribute to weight gain and dental carriers, but do our beloved smoothies have a role to play too?

The recipe for typical green smoothies may look something like this:

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 medium banana, peeled
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds, soaked for 20 minutes
  • ¾ cup of filtered water

Add all the ingredients to your blender and blend on high for 30 second or until creamy.

Calories: 213 | Protein: 6g | Carbs: 47g | Fat: 3g | Fiber: 14.9g

The nutrition profile of these ingredients is pretty good, but as you lay them out in front of you to prepare your smoothies, you can see that this in itself is the size of a small meal (with calories to match). Liquefying your meals and slamming them down on the run may seem perfectly convenient; however there are hidden dangers.

Too much, too quick

If you decided to sit down at the table with a knife and fork and consume the original contents of your smoothie as a meal it would take some time, 15 minutes or so maybe. However, if you proceed to blend all these ingredients together, put them in a cup and “throw it down” as you head out the door, you will get the same “hit” of energy (kilojoules/calories) in about less than half the time it would take you to consume it as a meal.

Evidence suggests that “throwing food down” in this fashion as well as eating until “full,” triples the risk of being overweight (1)

Increases Fussy Eating

Beyond the convenience of a meal in a cup, many people use smoothies as an opportunity to “sneak” extra vegetables into their diet and the diet of their children (and husbands). This again seems like a great strategy (and I am not saying it’s not), however I am cautioning that this is not a productive way to encourage a child (or adult) to try new foods and eat their vegetables.

Despite the fact that a child (or husband) may unknowingly consume spinach when they’re in smoothies, it doesn’t mean the next time a handful of the stuff lands on their dinner plate they are going to be any more willing to eat it. And, unless your child intends to follow a liquid diet their entire life, it is important that they are given the opportunity to eat vegetables as food: as they look, as they feel and as they smell.

Don’t get me wrong, I hide plenty of vegetables in my cooking. It is a great strategy for everyone to boost their veggie intake and lower the energy of a meal, but some of those spinach leaves will always land on the plate as well.

A Dental Disaster

Of course, lastly we have to consider the implications for oral health. The British Dental Association have expressed their concerns over the popularity of meeting the “5 a day” recommended intake of vegetables through smoothies as it contribute to erosion of tooth enamel. (2)

Further, relying on liquid meals like smoothies denies a child the opportunity to practice critical chewing skills which strengthen the muscles needed for speech. Failure to develop these muscles through crewing can result in speech problems. This is also an issue with extensive bottle feeding, failure to introduce age appropriate textured food and overuse food pouches which have a sucking nozzle.

Food, Food, Glorious Food

Eating is one of the simplest pleasures in life and despite the hectic, time-starved society we live in, it is important to slow down and savour the holistic experience of a good meal which engages the senses and heightens psychosocial wellbeing through connecting with people, places and the experience of eating.

  • Great recipe thanks

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  • I love this recipe. A blend of things I love and healthy.

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  • Interesting article, however, I still believe that Smoothies have to be better for you than soft drinks!

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  • I have heard that juices are loaded with sugar. A lot of the fruit pulp is removed which depletes the nutrients. I think if you make them at home and don’t have them all the time, you should be fine

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  • What to do! What to do! This just adds to the confusion about what we should eat. Isn’t it better for someone to consume vegies/fruits via a smoothie than not at all? There is clearly a rise in the number of smoothies consumed… you see people with them everywhere, but aren’t they more a treat or an irregular thing rather than being someone’s total meal plan? Isn’t it okay in moderation? Isn’t it better than some other options? It’s all too hard!!!

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  • Personally I don’t think smoothies are as bad as a soft drinks, given the ingredients are healthier. But the processing and indeed the speed it is consumed are making it maybe not the best option.

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  • I have smoothie regularly as a meal replacement but I’ve never scoffed mine down

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  • Just realized this is a 4 year old post, why is it being re-posted? Smoothies are great for those who do not eat well, it gives you a good dose of nutrition. Leave the fat’s out, like milk, coconut, seeds or nuts for less calories. Chew your smoothies slowly and do not guzzle it, sip, relax and enjoy the hit of goodness, fresh organic fruit and veg will give you energy and stop you craving other unhealthy snacks. Have on it’s own as a breakfast or lunch replacement is fine. Fruit is low in calorie density and is not unhealthy or will it put weight on you, it is fat from milk, nuts, seeds, oils etc that will. Stop putting olive oli on your salad, this is very high in fat.

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  • If you physically ate all that you put into a smoothie you’d end up being sick.

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  • A smoothie can contain as much if not more sugar as soft drink due to all the fruit that goes into them. But people still view them as healthy!


    • Fruit (fresh fruit) is not the same as sugar, your body processes it differently, fruit is healthy no matter how you have it, don’t be fooled by those that tell you otherwise.

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  • Wow really surprised to see how many calories can be in a smoothie!

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  • Moderation is the key to a good healthy diet. Balanced but not smoothies for every meal, maybe once a week as a treat.

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  • I think smoothies are great for those who are in a hurry.
    My friends son has to get up at 5.30 in the morning to get to school…he is 14 and says he doesnt eat breakfast because hes in too much of a rush in the mornings. Ive purchased him some chocolate protein powder…he is having that for breakfast now.


    • Chocolate protein powder is not healthy, just make a fruit and veg smoothie and he will get enough protein.

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  • It’s so hard to know what to eat and drink these days. I love a green smoothie but did find I was putting on weight when having one for breakfast each day – too much fruit I believe.


    • Fruit does not put weight on you, if you are adding any sort of fat ie; milk, coconut, nuts etc that will but not fruit, fruit is low in calorie density.

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  • Some smoothies can have so many hidden calories, I prefer to make my own and know what’s in them.

    Reply

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