Smoothies and juices are the poster child and quintessential health promoting food. To make the most of this wonderfully healthy habit and to maximize the benefits of incorporating smoothies and juices into your diet, here are a few trusted tips to keep things as authentically health-promoting as possible.
1. Wash thoroughly
Smoothies and juices are fresh ingredients eaten in their raw form. With that said, you need to be vigilant when it comes to prepping your ingredients, which as you know, have come a long way in getting transported from the farm it grew on to the shelf and market you bought it off.
Wash your fruits, vegetables, roots, herbs, and whatever other ingredients you want to use for your juice or smoothie extremely well. This is of course for removing soil, dirt and any residue that may be on your fresh produce, and to help prevent any foodborne illness.
Washing you produce is especially important if you’re using conventional produce, as there certainly is toxic pesticide residue. Something you definitely don’t want in your system. To ensure any unwanted residue is removed, soak your produce in water with baking soda and white vinegar for at least 1 minute. A good ratio would be a teaspoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of baking soda for every 2 cups of water. Run your fresh produce under cool running water afterwards to ensure you have safe and clean ingredients to work with.
2. Opt for organic
When possible and where possible, opt for fresh, local and organic produce. Not only is buying organic and local better for the environment, truly organic produce is more nutrient dense. A standard of organic farming is to replenish and nourish the soil that is used to grow produce as opposed to stripping it of nutrients from continual harvests. Choosing organic produce for your juices and smoothies overall gives you more nutrients and therefore more benefits, without worrying about any toxicity from pesticide residue like their non-organic counterparts.
3. Mind the sugar
Juices and smoothies, although healthy, can be greenwashed. Yes, you’re getting in a host of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in one easy sip, but one major thing to consider and mind when drinking these healthy elixirs, especially with juices, is the sugar content. This holds particularly true for packaged smoothies and juices, which usually contain a high amount of sugar. Read the label if you’re buying them and avoid the ones that are high in added sugars.
When you put together your juice or smoothie, consider the amount of fructose your body will be consuming. Bananas, pineapples, mangoes, grapes, pears, cherries etc. are all delicious and bring to the table their own unique nutrient profile. But one thing in common these fruits have is they’re high in fructose, and like anything you consume with sugar, they can spike your blood glucose levels and send it crashing.
This is particularly something to mind when it comes to juicing fruit. If you think having a mango, pineapple, and peaches for a golden morning smoothie is a great way to start your day, you may want to reconsider the level of sugar you’re giving your body, especially if you don’t follow it up with some kind of protein and fat.
4. Don’t treat them meal replacement
Smoothies and juices are often associated with being a weightloss food, however you need to remember that smoothies and juices are not to be treated as a meal replacement for the sake of weightloss as they often aren’t nutritionally balanced. A balanced meal consists of all your macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Juices especially, although containing a lot of vitamins and minerals, don’t contain your needed macronutrients and certainly don’t make for a complete and balanced meal.
Where smoothies are concerned, bulk up the nutrient profile by ensuring you add nutrient dense foods to make it worthy of a full meal. Add greens like spinach and kale, some fruit like banana and/or mango, nut butters for healthy fats, and protein powders to make your smoothie a truly nourishing drink.
5. Add cinnamon
As previously mentioned, juices and smoothies tend to be high in fructose. If you enjoy the sweetness, and rightly so, help your body counteract the sugar more efficiently and prevent a sugar crash by mixing in Ceylon cinnamon, which is exceptional at helping to stabilize blood sugar levels.
6. Keep the fiber
Where juicing is concerned, it’s particularly beneficial on an empty stomach as you give your body a flush of easily absorbable vitamins and antioxidants as the liquid takes little effort to digest and reaches your system quickly. Juicing however leaves behind pulp, which often gets discarded. To make the most of your hard-earned fresh produce, keep the pulp from your juice which itself is loaded with gut-loving fiber. You can easily portion them into smaller parts and store them in the freezer. Leftover juice pulp goes great in thickening soups, adding as a base to fritters, making crackers, or even used as dip. With a little creativity in the kitchen, you can drink your juice and have your pulp too.