It’s February and American Heart Month. Although many people may have given up on their New Year’s resolutions to eat better this year, Lightsey Jett, registered dietitian nutritionist with Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center, says little improvements can go a long way.
Jett wants to remind you of some Health.gov recommendations on how to use smoothies to help you with your goals.
Some benefits of smoothies include:
- Great way to increase vegetable and fruit intake: Many Americans don’t get their recommended servings amount of produce in each day, so smoothies can provide an easy-to-consume drink that doesn't require cooking. You can use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
- High fiber: Blending whole fruits and vegetables in smoothies retains all parts of the produce (pulp, skins, etc.), so the fiber content of smoothies is higher than that of their juice counterpart. Fiber is a vital part of a healthy diet and most of us don’t consume close to the recommended daily amount (25 grams for females, 38 grams for males). Not to mention, fiber helps to keeps you full and more satisfied for a longer period of time.
- Opportunity for more nutrients: It's easy to include "nutrient-dense" ingredients, which are high in vitamins and minerals, like plain milk/yogurt (high in calcium), berries (high in antioxidants), etc. You can also get creative with ingredients that you might otherwise not often consume like kale, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, etc. (good sources of vitamin A and C).
- Practical: Most people already have a blender, so making smoothies is another great way to use a common kitchen appliance (also the cleanup of a blender tends to be easier than that of a juicer which has multiple parts/filters to clean).
- Good grab and go meal replacement: By including a protein source (Greek yogurt, whey powder, pea protein powder, etc.) along with healthy carbs and fats, smoothies can be a quick and satisfying meal replacement on the go.
Jett adds a word of caution to this recommendation. She says, “Although smoothies have many benefits, be aware that they can become high calorie quickly. It is important to monitor the quantity of calorie dense ingredients like peanut butter, avocados, sweetened milks like chocolate milk, vanilla almond milk and 100% fruit juices. Avoid use of ice creams, syrups and sugar-sweetened fruit juice; always check the calorie and sugar content of ingredients; and use measuring spoons and cups to keep portions of ingredients reasonable.”