If you’ve started adding more smoothies to your life, reading up on all the latest posts about their health benefits, you’ve made a good move.
It is true that smoothies can add an incredible boost of nutrients to your diet and be beneficial for you in several ways, including offering you more fibre and antioxidants, a greater intake of vitamins and minerals and an easy medium to consume lots of health superfoods.
But what you may not have realized is that it is also really easy for smoothies to be high in sugar.
Here’s how to keep your liquid beverage nutrient dense and sugar low.
1. Add in Vegetables
While many people are used to adding spinach into their smoothie, there are heaps of other vegetables that you can add as well. Consider sweet potato or pumpkin to help make your smoothie extra creamy. Steam cauliflower and freeze it and then add it in for a thickener instead of frozen berries. Zucchini can be frozen and added in as well, as it has a high-water content and doesn’t affect the flavour. Finally, buy a bag of frozen peas and have those on hand to add into the mix as you swap out some of your frozen berries.
2. Cut Back on Fruit
Do you build most of your smoothies with banana and frozen fruit? If so, you aren’t alone. Banana offers the ultra-creamy texture, while frozen fruit helps make it thick. And while it is fruit, and does have a lot of nutritional benefits, the number of servings you are likely including means you are also adding in a lot of sugar. Try to swap out some of the fruit for vegetables as discussed above.
3. Skip the Added Sugars
Refrain from adding in anything such as honey, maple syrup or stevia to sweeten your smoothie. If you are putting fruit in your smoothie, this should act as enough of a sweetener, and if it starts as frozen fruit, will also help add a delightful thickness. If you still find your smoothie to be a little lacking in sweetness, try adding a date: it is high in fiber and a low glycaemic fruit, meaning it will release slowly into your blood stream and offer you energy in the hours following the consumption of your smoothie.
4. Just Use Water
If you are liquifying your smoothie by adding fruit juice, coconut water or kombucha, you may be adding in more sugar than you realize. Skip the fruit juice option altogether and be sure to have no more than 20-30% of the liquid portion of your smoothie come from kombucha or coconut water. The best option? Just use water! It not only reduces the addition of unwanted sugar and calories, but it also ups your daily water intake!
5. Watch Your Add-Ins
While you may be feeling super motivated by adding in the “super power acai” blend you just bought, check the ingredients list first. Many superfood blend packs are intended to be added just to water or milk, similar to protein powder, and as such, will often have sugar added to make them palatable to drink on their own. While adding superfood powders to smoothies is a great idea, and a great way to boost your nutrient intake, it’s best to add them in as single powders, and not buy them as premade blends.
With a few simple changes, you can be making amazing, healthy smoothies that taste good and give you an incredible nutrient boost. Happy blending!
By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH – Viand Nutrition