Let’s say you are, well, anywhere, and you see someone slurping down a tall glass of something green and nutritious looking – and you feel bad about yourself. It looks horrible but they seem to be enjoying it immensely. You think they must be so healthy that their entire being is now attuned to think of deliciousness differently than mere mortals, such as yourself.
That may be true but in all likelihood it doesn’t taste bad, it’s probably packed with tons of fruit, lots of juice, and with some spinach tossed in it looks green and swampy when all blended together but in actuality is really sweet and quite enjoyable. You may yourself be whipping up smoothies in your blender each morning and patting yourself on the back for all the good nutrition you are happily downing as you head out the door.
Commercial, and maybe your own, smoothies are generally made with added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, or some other added source of sweetness. Fruits themselves contain a lot of natural sugar that contributes to their relatively high calorie count. This is generally not a problem as fruit also contains a lot of fiber. But if you are drinking smoothies you are likely consuming more fruit than you realize – and a lot of sugar and calories – in a very short amount of time.
“Don’t Drink Your Calories”
I don’t know who coined the phrase ‘don’t drink your calories’ but I’ll say it again ‘don’t drink your calories’. How many calories are in that 24-oz smoothie you get at your smoothie bar; 200? 300? Would you be surprised if I told you 500, or more! Yes, there are leafy greens and fruit but add in yogurt, juice, sorbet, protein powder, nut butter, or even ice cream (ice cream, really? we’re trying to get healthy here!) and any weight loss dreams you had are out the window. And it’s not even lunchtime!
Keep Your Foods Whole
If you make your own smoothies with only fruit, vegetables, and a little water or crushed ice you can bring down the calorie count and the sugar content to something more reasonable, especially if you use lots of watermelon. Still, it takes only a few moments to drink the smoothie while it would take minutes to chew and eat the fruit whole. Seriously, when was the last time you sat and ate three bananas, a cup of raspberries, a cup of blue berries, a half a watermelon, and chased it down with three handfuls of spinach? Blending food essentially pulverizes the fiber it contains making you feel hungry again soon and depriving your digestive tract of fiber’s benefits.
Fruit smoothies are a better choice than a chocolate milkshake but treat it as an occasional treat, not a daily staple. Please eat your calories and nutrition, don’t drink them. Your heart will thank you.
Dr. James Kneller treats atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, and other heart conditions in Yakima, WA, serving patients across Eastern Washington and beyond.