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How healthy are smoothies?

How to make your smoothie better for you

For the health conscious among us, opting for a daily smoothie can be seen as a great way to get in our two pieces of fruit and a dairy hit to boot. But are we getting more than we bargain for in every sugary sip? Accredited Practising Dietitian Sanchia Parker describes how this could be the case.

Smoothies can contain anything upward of 40 g of sugar (depending on how they’re made). At the very least, that’s eight teaspoons of sugar in one hit. And for the newly popular smoothie bowls (as it sounds, a bowl made up of a smoothie, often topped with more fruit) this can skyrocket to 80 g or more of sugar, which is a huge 16 teaspoons.

Although the sugar found in smoothies is natural, generally from fruit and dairy such as milk and yoghurt, it’s a lot for our bodies to have in one go. If we have such a large intake of sugar in a short period of time, our blood sugar levels can quickly rise, causing us to feel hyperactive and energetic. Then as our body processes the sugar as fast as it can, the same blood sugar levels come crashing down, causing a slump in energy.

It can be all too easy to sip down a smoothie without thinking of it as food since you’re not chewing. When we sip something, rather that chew it, our bodies are less likely to register that we are full and it makes it easy to want to eat again soon after. Think about what is in your smoothie – say, a banana, a piece of mango, a cup of milk and a few teaspoons of yoghurt – and think about the time it would take for you to sit and eat them. For most people, they would eat the whole foods a lot slower, and feel fuller as a result.

Tips for a healthy smoothie

While a smoothie can be a great way to provide your body with vitamins, minerals and fibre from the fruit as well as much-needed calcium from the milk and yoghurt, be sure you are not overdoing it by following these tips:

  • If you can, make your own. That way, you can control what’s going into it. When making your own smoothies, add in oats, bran and other whole grains or seeds to help you feel satisfied and less likely to snack on something else soon after.
  • Check the nutrition info. If you are out and about and want to grab something from a shop or supermarket, check the ingredients list, kilojoules (energy), fat and sugar content to make the healthiest choice.
  • Be aware of the portion size. Having a medium-large smoothie as well as a meal could mean you are consuming extra kilojoules without realising.

For more dietary advice visit daa.asn.au

 

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