Smoothies are an easy and delicious way to provide your body the nutrients and energy it needs to start the day. Created the right way, they can help you improve digestions, lose weight and make healthier decisions throughout the rest of the day. However, if created without the right balance, smoothies can be a sugar-bomb that will do the exact opposite of what you’re aiming for. To create truly healthy smoothies, check out the tips below.
Healthy smoothies 101
When you’re making breakfast at home on a busy morning, choices like a fruit-sweetened smoothie or a veggie-packed juice can be fast, healthy secret weapons. But if you’re truly time-crunched and decide to buy one at a juice bar instead, the story changes: Giving up control has a price.
Unfortunately, restaurant smoothies can quickly jump to 500 calories and often contain sky-high amounts of sugar, turning that would-be sensible breakfast into something resembling an indulgent dessert, at least nutritionally. But just like you tell a barista exactly how you prefer your cappuccino, you should chat with your juice bar server to get a sense of what kind — and amounts — of ingredients he or she using so you can tweak your order if necessary.
For help, TODAY turned to Miraval Resort & Spa’s on-site nutritionist, Angela Onsgard, R.D. At the popular Tucson resort, Onsgard teaches the Fresh Start Smoothie Workshop, where guests learn exactly what should (and shouldn’t!) go into one of these healthy drinks. Bring her handy guidelines with you next time you’re hitting the juice bar:
- Ditch the protein powder: Many experts, including Onsgard, have expressed concerns because these supplements are often heavily processed and contain additives but little nutritional value. “You’re better off using a base of soy or regular milk, both of which contain calcium and vitamin D,” she says.
- Don’t go crazy with fruit: Turns out you can have too much of a good thing — though it’s a whole food, fruit still contains sugar and calories, so Onsgard suggests limiting yourself to no more than one cup. With leafy greens and other vegetables, though, the sky’s the limit. “Feel free to throw in as many as you find palatable,” she says.
- Sweeten smartly: In a perfect world, the fiber-rich fruit in your smoothie would provide all the sweetness you need. If you must add something, don’t order fruit juice, which is high in fructose and can cause blood sugar to spike. And even though it’s getting lots of buzz, Onsgard also warns against agave syrup: “It’s processed very similarly to the way high-fructose corn syrup is processed,” she says. Instead, ask your server for a light drizzle of honey (ideally raw) which is fructose-free and thought to help boost immunity.
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