Despite their swamp-like appearance, green smoothies – made with a blend of various green vegetables, fruits and other ingredients – can be delicious, nutritious and filling.
And, there is a myriad of science-backed reasons why we should be drinking more of them.
Of course, liquid greens aren’t a replacement for whole fruits and vegetables all the time, but they can be a quick and easy way of getting some much needed nutrients and energy into your body.
Here are 13 convincing reasons to make green smoothies a regular part of your diet:
An Easy Breakfast
Hundreds, if not thousands, of studies show that eating breakfast is vital for overall health. A balanced breakfast provides energy, reduces the risk of diabetes, boosts your memory and is even credited with helping people live to 100!
Yet, 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day – with a lack of time cited as one of the main reasons.
Well, embrace the green smoothie and this excuse goes out the window. It takes two minutes to blend up the ingredients you need.
If you slice and measure the ingredients the night before, and pop them in a container in the freezer, then you’re looking at a breakfast in 60 seconds! Who can’t spare one minute for better health?
Want to know why else eating breakfast is vital? This article will fill you in.
Hit Your Fruit & Vegetable Targets
While the debate goes on about how many fruits and vegetables we should be eating (some say 5 daily portions, others 7, and even more say 10), one thing experts agree on is that most people don’t eat enough fresh produce.
Even though eating whole fruits and vegetables is the best option, the second best is blending them (although not for every meal!). It’s also such an easy way to ensure you hit your daily target – whatever that may be!
A 2014 study, published in Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found that people who ate seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day had a 42% lower risk of death at any point in time than those who ate less than one portion.
The bottom line is: for better health and longevitiy eat your fruits and vegetables. And if you can’t eat them, drink them!
Better Than Juice
In fact, Minute Maid’s 100% apple juice has more fructose per liter than Pepsi, Sprite, Coca-Cola, 7-Up or Dr. Pepper.
Even if you’re juicing only greens, and not fruits, you’re missing out on the fiber, something which is important to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes. You may also be missing out on some important phytonutrients which bind to the fiber!
Because you’re blending the whole fruit or vegetable in a smoothie, you’re not losing out on as much fiber as you would with a juice.
Stay Fuller For Longer
While often liquid meals can leave you hungry for more within an hour or so of eating them, green smoothies are different.
Because they retain their fiber, they fill you up and stop blood sugar levels from dropping – keeping cravings at bay.
Research has even found that spinach is fantastic for boosting satiety and stabilizing blood sugar – thanks to its fiber and water content.
When we’re satisfied and our blood sugar is stable, we’re less likely to snack – meaning we won’t pack on extra pounds through giving into our candy cravings.
Many studies show that leafy greens help with weight loss.
For example, in a study of women published this year, it was found that consuming green vegetables once a day induced weight loss, improved obesity-related risk-factors, and reduced the urge for palatable food.
Other research says that drinking a spinach shake in the morning may significantly lower hunger throughout the day and promote weight loss.
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in the United States. Scarily, 1 in every 3 Americans is expected to suffer from this condition by 2050.
A review of six studies, involving more than 220,000 people, looked at the relationship between intake of fruits and vegetables and diabetes.
The researchers found that 1.5 servings of green leafy vegetables a day was associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
What’s more, irregular breakfast consumption is linked with type 2 diabetes in women meaning it makes sense to combine leafy greens into a healthy breakfast to doubly reduce your risk of developing this condition.
One way to prevent and cure this type of inflammation is by eating a healthy diet, filled with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants have been found in many, many studies to reduce inflammation in the body.
Green vegetables, in particular, are nutritional powerhouses, loaded with powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients which help protect against inflammation and cellular damage.
Avoid Heart Disease
The leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease can be prevented in a great many cases by making some simple lifestyle and dietary changes.
One of which may be to increase your intake of green vegetables.
In 2001 research on over 84,000 women, it was found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables and vitamin C-rich produce, had a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Easy to Digest
If you struggle with poor digestion, particularly in the morning, then a green smoothie may get your digestive juices flowing.
Blended, or pureed, food is easier to digest as it has been already broken down by your blender. This is essentially like chewing many times, exposing more surface area on the food – which allows your saliva and digestive juices to quickly begin metabolizing the particles.
But, if you swallow the smoothie without allowing it to linger in your mouth, you won’t be letting it mingle with your saliva – which is the first step in the digestive process.
Build Strong Bones
One of the key ways to build and maintain strong bones is by getting enough calcium (among other nutrients).
It may surprise you to discover that the calcium in kale is better absorbed by our bodies than the calcium in milk!
One gram of kale provides 1.35 mg of calcium; one gram of whole milk has 1.13 mg.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that getting calcium solely from dairy isn’t healthy as substances like casein, lactose, saturated fat, and cholesterol in dairy all contribute to poor health.
The scientists conclude that dairy products have no place in a healthy vegetarian diet as all nutrients found in milk are readily available in healthier foods from plant sources – one of which is kale.
Certain fruits and vegetables are known to boost our energy naturally. Many of these feature in green smoothie recipes including carbohydrate-rich bananas, iron-rich spinach, and citrus fruits.
If we add in dates, or other natural sugar sources, we’re going to up our energy levels even more – making for a productive day at the office!
Ward Off Cancer
Because smoothies are such a great way to boost our intake of antioxidant-filled fruits and veggies, they can be a helpful dietary aid in warding off cancer.
A review of 228 separate pieces of scientific literature on the relationship between vegetable and fruit consumption and risk of cancer, concluded that a greater vegetable and fruit consumption can protect against cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lung, oral cavity and pharynx, endometrium, pancreas, and colon.
Those that appear to be most protective are raw vegetables (which are used in smoothies), along with green vegetables (like spinach and kale) and cruciferous vegetables (which include broccoli).
Other important cancer-fighting produce include allium vegetables, carrots and tomatoes.
Good immunity means our bodies are fighting fit when it comes to dealing with foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses and parasites.
In order to build a strong immune system, we have to have a balanced diet – which includes plenty of fresh produce.
In particular, green vegetables play an important role.
Research published in the journal Cell, found that green vegetables like kale and broccoli, are the source of a chemical signal that is important to a fully functioning immune system.
No matter how much you dislike eating your greens, you have to admit it’s a lot less painful than a flu shot!
How To Make Green Smoothies
Now that you know some of the incredible health benefits associated with drinking your greens, you may be wondering how you actually concoct such a drink.
Firstly, you should know that what you put into your smoothie determines whether it is a suitable meal replacement, or simply qualifies as a snack.
If you’re looking for a whole meal, having a balance of carbs, fat and protein is important.
Fruits and vegetables work for your carbohydrate requirements, while avocado, nut butters and coconut oil are all great sources of ‘healthy fats’. For added protein, blend in some chia, hemp or flax seeds, or try a scoop of your favorite protein powder.
10 Green Smoothie Recipes to Suit All Tastes
To get you on-board the green smoothie bandwagon, here are 10 great-tasting green smoothies. Even the most discerning palate will find at least one recipe to love among this lot:
Hide the Spinach Chocolate Shake – this is the perfect ‘beginner’ green smoothie, as it’s not actually green! Thanks to a few spoons of cocoa powder, this delicious drink looks like a chocolate shake…and tastes like one too, making it ideal for tricking children into eating their greens. For a complete meal, you’ll need to add a source of protein.
Green Tea Green Smoothie – merge the healing power of Matcha green tea with spinach, banana and grapes for a sweet and energizing snack. Because it contains more fruits than vegetables, it’s a perfect blend to help beginners transition to a more veggie based drink.
Avocado Green Smoothie – containing spinach, mango, banana and avocado, this smoothie has a smooth, silky texture and natural sweetness that will leave you satiated, yet wanting more! Avocado is known to improve digestion, fight inflammation and prevent blood sugar crashes – among all these other health benefits. For a filling meal, a spoon of seeds or protein powder is required.
Green Warrior Protein Smoothie – no added protein is needed in this complete meal, it already packs in a whopping 17 grams, along with 12 grams of fiber and 500 calories! With red grapefruit juice, kale, apple, cucumber, celery, mango, mint, hemp and coconut oil, you’ll be buzzing with energy all day long.
Super Green Smoothie Bowl – if you like the idea of a green smoothie, but aren’t a fan of drinking your breakfast, then this recipe is for you! By adding the mixture to a bowl, and covering it with a variety of toppings which need to be chewed, you’ll increase satiety. Research shows that chewing signals to the brain that we’re full, thus stopping us overeating. With fruits, veggies, flaxseed, nut butter and a few delicious toppings, this is a complete and hearty meal.
Blueberry Green Smoothie – another green-smoothie-that-isn’t-actually-green, the spinach in this mix is overpowered by the blueberries and raspberries, both of which have some serious antioxidant power and important health benefits. Oats bulk this drink up and add even more fiber and cholesterol lowering benefits. Add some protein and you’ll stay full for hours.
Swamp Smoothie – don’t let the unappealing name, or murky color, put you off – this smoothie tastes great. It also proves you can have broccoli for breakfast! Fruit and cocoa sweeten it up, while hemp seeds and protein powder round it out to make a satisfying meal in a glass.
Fruit-Free Green Smoothie – for the really hardcore out there, this liquid snack is a green smoothie in its truest form. Containing cucumber, parsley, lemon, avocado, spinach and coconut water, drinks don’t get any greener!
Low Sugar Green Smoothie – if you’re watching your sugar intake, even from natural sources, but aren’t yet ready for a totally fruit-free shake, give this a try. With raspberries, green apple, spinach, chia and flax seed, coconut milk, almond butter and lemon, it’s low glycemic index, and rich in good fats.
Green Thickie – probably the most filling smoothie you will ever come across, the creator of the green ‘thickie’ credits her recipe and smoothie regimen with dramatic weight loss. Containing oats, spinach, sunflower seeds, bananas and dates, it’s a high calorie but filling shake that will keep you going until your next meal.