5 Things You Should Know About Green Smoothies
5 Things You Should Know About Green Smoothies
I am pretty sure that all of you have already heard of or maybe even tried a smoothie. Most people you see on the street are usually drinking fruit smoothies and not the green ones. So I decided to turn to a nutrition expert, Nada Milac, who I know pretty well, to get a few facts about green smoothies.
1. Why green smoothies and not the fruity ones?
Fruit smoothies might be very tasty, but besides being full of vitamins and minerals, unfortunately they are also very rich in sugar. So when we drink a fruit smoothie our blood sugar levels rise. Because too much sugar in our blood stream is seen as poison and a threat, our body switches on its safety mechanisms and activates the pancreas to produce insulin to balance out the sugar levels in our blood. For safety reasons, and our body is all about being safe than sorry, our pancreas always produces more insulin than needed. What happens next is something we all know very well, because there is excess insulin in our blood, our body wants to use it up and so it give us the sensation of hunger, so that we would eat again, and this is how we enter the vicious circle of balancing sugar and insulin levels. Years of an extreme ‘balance me out if you can’ game between sugar and insulin levels can exhaust our pancreas and in a worst case this can lead to diabetes. This is exactly why nutritionists recommend green smoothies over fruit smoothies. Green smoothies which should contain at least 2/3 leafy greens (spinach, kale, cabbage, lettuce, rocket…) contain less sugar and much more fiber, slowing down the rise of sugar levels in our blood during digestion and thereby protects the pancreas. The leafy greens also contain much needed vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and also contain the little green wonder, chlorophyll.
2. What is chlorophyll and why is it good for us?
Chlorophyll is an extremely important biomolecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants and algae to absorb energy from light. It is also a pigment, which is structurally similar to and produced through the same metabolic pathway as other pigments such as heme pigments, which are most commonly recognized as components of haemoglobin, the red pigment in blood. Chlorophyll is rich with oxygen. It can be seen as the caretaker of the haemoglobin supplies, whit which it increases also the delivery of oxygen to our cells. It is said that it helps cleanse our inner organs and destroy various bacteria and fungi. Moreover it is claimed to increase blood cells, cleanses the intestine, supplies the body with iron, helps with anaemia and has antiseptic characteristics.
3. How to prepare it and when to drink it?
Our body unfortunately can’t digest and absorb the healthy chlorophyll consumed in normal form (cooked or freshly prepared vegetables), that is why it is so important to blend the leafy greens in a blender. Recommended strength of a blender is between 900 and 1000W and the blade should reach up to 37,000 rev / m. During the process of blending the blade breaks the cell structure (membrane) in which molecules of chlorophyll are stored and in such form chlorophyll becomes digestible. As already mentioned, to get enough fiber and chlorophyll, your green smoothie should contain at least 2/3 of leafy greens. But do not mix too many different sorts of vegetables and fruits, because this can overburden your digestive system. Best time of the day to drink green smoothies is morning. You can try drinking it on an empty stomach in the morning as a perfect start of the day, because the green smoothie will cleans your intestine and provide your body with fiber, essential amino acids and other nutrients that are very important to your health. But don’t worry, you can also drink green smoothies later during the day, but do remember a smoothie is considered a meal, so drink it at least 2 hours after the last meal and 1 hour before your next meal. It is best to drink the green smoothies while still fresh, since the natural enzymes and vitamins in fruits and vegetables start breaking down as soon as they are exposed to air. But if you store them in airtight containers in a fridge, they are still good to drink one to two days after blending. When drinking your smoothie, sip it slowly and let it mix in your mouth with your saliva, because this way the nutrients will be absorbed easier. If you wish, you can also eat your smoothie with a spoon, like a soup, this will make you eat it slower and will also give you the feeling that you are really having a meal.
4. Vary your leafy greens.
Vegetables and green plants in general have developed an interesting natural defence system. As protection from animals, leafy greens produce chemical substances called alkaloids, which make the animals feel nauseas after overeating. The same thing can happen to us and that is why it is important to mix or circulate the leafy greens, for example don’t use only kale in your green smoothie, but exchange the greens every few days (for example with spinach, cabbage, rocket…).
5. Green smoothie or a green juice?
The biggest difference between smoothies and fresh squeezed juice is fiber. When squeezing vegetables or fruit we extract only the fluids, which contain no fiber. The down side of no fibers is that the sugar is absorbed into our bloodstream really quickly. Drinking juices with too many sugary fruits can leave you with energy highs and lows, so try to stick to green juices made primarily with leafy greens and just one serving of fruit, like one small apple. Different than by a smoothie, a green juice can’t be considered as a meal replacement as it contains no fiber and is low in protein and enzymes. When deciding what to drink, a green smoothie or a green juice, you should know what you want to achieve with the drink. If you decided to cleanse your body with a fast, then a green juice is a great option. Fresh green juices are also an opportunity to seriously load up on nutrients, at much higher densities than with smoothies. But fiber plays a vital role in health and that is exactly why green smoothies are so important. Green smoothies are also much faster and easier to prepare than juices. But also, if you’d like to lose weight, the fiber in smoothies makes them very filling and a super healthy, low-calorie meal replacement. If you ask me, I wouldn’t pick one over the other, but opt for both green juices and green smoothies. In my eyes they are both great, a green juice is a powerful nutrient-dense elixir that is very energizing and a green smoothie is packed with vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, minerals and fiber, so a great digestion support, a colon-cleanser and a meal with many health benefits.
Do you have a favourite smoothie? Do share it with us!