Smoothies- Keeping Them Balanced With Benefits

Stephanie Blair, Holistic Nutritionist

Smoothies have become one of the most popular beverages – whether you are drinking it in the morning as a quick and healthy grab and go option, a snack, or you are creating a delicious pre or post workout smoothie. They are one of the best ways to get in important nutrients and they are very customizable! Not to mention, you are giving your body the nutrients that it needs in a quick way which is great for those who do not have enough time in the kitchen in the morning during a busy workday or weekend. For kids who may be picky eaters, smoothies are a nice option when you are trying to sneak in some extra veggies! There are some that you cannot even taste once it is blended. For instance, avocado (provides creaminess and thickness to a smoothie), cauliflower, and zucchini are all great options to add into smoothies that will provide you or your child with important vitamins and minerals.

Personally, I love smoothies. I have been drinking them for years and sometimes, especially in the morning, I just want something quick, healthy, and nutritious with the least amount of effort on my part. I like to chop up a couple of brazil nuts (hello selenium boost!), other type of nuts and seeds or cacao nibs for extra crunch. Our mouths are made to chew! Adding some crunch to your smoothies stimulates the digestive juices and helps your brain gets the satiation signal it needs. I want to point out that although smoothies are great, you want to make sure that you are keeping this drink balanced because the last thing we want is a huge spike in our blood sugar.

Keep your smoothie balanced with protein, fibre and healthy fats

Protein improves satiety and is made up of chemical “building blocks” called amino acids. Your body uses amino acids to build and repair muscles and to make hormones and enzymes.

For protein you can add your favourite protein powder (as long as it has clean ingredients). You do not want ones that are going to do more harm than good to your gut. Vanilla is usually my go-to flavour because it goes with pretty much everything), tofu (I promise you cannot taste it!), and cottage cheese.

Fibre helps keep bowel movements consistent and it increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it, helps lower cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, and helps achieve a healthy weight. Making sure you are having at least one or two bowel movements a day helps the body remove any excess waste from the body (so that could be excess estrogen, cholesterol as mentioned, etc). Great sources of fibre include oats (if you are gluten-free, make sure that the oats are certified organic and gluten-free), chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, zucchini (these vegetables are tasteless in smoothies and is a great way to sneak in some extra veggies in the morning). Berries are also a colourful way to add in fibre. If you are looking to naturally sweeten your smoothies, banana is a common go-to and provides potassium which is good for heart health and blood pressure. Some people like to add 1 or 2 dates to their smoothie to sweeten and add a small amount of fibre.

Healthy fats are important to include in the diet because they play a major role in lowering inflammation, improving HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind), lowers risk of developing heart disease, and helping with blood sugar control.

Healthy fats include avocado, Greek yogurt, almond butter, peanut butter, sun butter (a great option if you are allergic to nuts and has a similar taste profile to peanut butter).

Other benefits of your daily smoothie

Not only are smoothies are a good habit for getting in those extra nutrients, but they are also good for people who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Since a smoothie is liquid, it makes it easier for the body to break down the nutrients from the vegetable and fruits. Not only will the liquid from the smoothie keep you hydrated, but the electrolytes found in the fruits and vegetables will help keep your body in balance.

Smoothies are also beneficial during cold and flu season as the vitamins and minerals in the fruits and vegetables will give your body a helping hand to combat sickness, especially vitamin A and C.

Smoothies are also a convenient way to enjoy calcium rich foods such as almonds, chia seeds, calcium-rich milk or milk alternatives and yogurt. This is beneficial for bone health.

As you can see, smoothies are a great option to include in your routine, just make sure they’re balanced! When you want to enjoy wholesome nutrition in a rush, smoothies are the way to go!