Smoothies: What to Avoid

Smoothies can be a super food! But they can also be dangerous to your health. It’s all about choosing the right ingredients.

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Smoothies are a great way to fuel your body with the powerful nutrients it needs from whole plant foods to create a vibrant health and glow. Smoothies in your diet help you get vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients, and fiber, and they also make the foods easier to digest because they are blended. Blending a smoothie allows you to use the whole fruit or vegetable so you can make the most of its nutrition, including that all-important element of cleansing fiber.

That doesn’t mean, however, that all smoothies are created equal. Just because it’s called a smoothie, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Unfortunately, stopping for a smoothie at the mall can be an extremely unhealthy endeavor unless you use caution. Many smoothies from stores and restaurants are loaded with sugar, fat, calories and other unhealthy ingredients that can have a negative impact on your health.

We all know which ingredients make a smoothie healthy: fruit and veggies. Be aware of other, unhealthy ingredients that sneak their way into store-bought smoothies, and make wise choices at home when blending up your own.

Ingredients to avoid:

Dairy

Many smoothies, especially commercially made smoothies, contain dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and ice cream. While this gives the smoothie a creamy base and can help thicken it, the jury is still out on whether dairy is unhealthy for humans. Dairy is also high in fat, and may contain numerous hormones and antibiotics. Instead, try unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, or thicken smoothies with a tablespoon of soaked organic chia.

Fruit juice, sugar, and agave

If your smoothie has a fruit juice base, then there’s a good chance it’s been sweetened with sugar. Additionally, fruit juice adds calories without fiber, and contains high levels of fructose, which can be taxing on your liver. Sugar, of course, also causes blood sugar to spike, leading to a release of insulin and potentially increased hunger and cravings. Agave has very high fructose content. Instead, opt for filtered water with whole fruit or coconut water. You can add a little sweetness with some stevia, which doesn’t affect blood sugar and is 100% natural.

Peanut butter

Many brands of peanut butter contain sugar. Peanuts also contain aflatoxins, a carcinogen produced from molds commonly found in peanuts and cashews. Peanut butter is also high in fat and calories. It is not a beauty food! Instead, if you want a little bit of nutty flavor, try chia seeds or opt for creating almond butter by processing a tablespoon of raw almonds before adding your remaining smoothie ingredients.

Artificial sweeteners

In order to save calories, many people add artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame (NutraSweet) to their smoothies. These ingredients increase your body’s chemical load. Likewise, many maintain these chemicals are neurotoxic and can cause a host of health problems. Artificial sweeteners may even cause weight gain! Instead, sweeten with whole fruit or a little stevia.

Soy milk

Genetically modified soy makes up 91 percent of America’s soy crops. GM foods present a number of health dangers including DNA damage and reproductive issues. Soy has also been linked to treatment-resistant breast cancer tumors. Instead, skip the soy milk and opt for almond milk or filtered water as a base for your smoothie.

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