March is National Nutrition Month: 10 reasons why you will want to drink a green smoothie everyday

By Jill Fleming, MS, RD/LD
Veterans Memorial Hospital

You may have heard about Green Smoothies, but have you ever tasted one? If not, you may want to reconsider. Here is a short list of why you will gladly add a Green Smoothie to your daily diet. We have provided two recipes for you to try. Feel free to substitute any of your favorite fruits or vegetables.

To Lose Weight: When I work with weight loss patients, one of the easiest ways for them to start losing weight is to add more fruit,  vegetables and water to their daily diets. My most successful weight loss clients are now eating a total of 8-10 servings of fruit or vegetables daily. To easily reach this goal; eat more vegetable-based soups, make omelets loaded with vegetables and drink green smoothies often.

To Calm an Out of Control Appetite: The reason you are always hungry, is because you are not fueling your body with foods that nourish it. You can munch on Baked Potato Chips and Diet Soda all day long, but you will constantly feel hungry because your body wants the vitamins and minerals from real food. When you drink a green smoothie, you will almost instantly notice that your appetite is more in control.

To Stop Sweet Cravings: When you are craving sweets, you may think your body wants a soda or a candy bar, but you are wrong. Your body is sending the message that it wants fruit. Most weight loss clients who start eating three (1/2 cup) servings of fruit daily report their cravings for sugar and sweets go away. Both of the recipes below contain two servings of fruit per smoothie.

To Decrease Your Risk of Cancer: Antioxidants are the anti-cancer phytochemicals found in fruit and vegetables. We all have free radicals in our body, which can potentially turn into cancer. When we eat foods with antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E and selenium), the antioxidants bind to the free radicals and neutralize them and therefore reduce your risk of developing cancer.

To Improve Your Cholesterol Numbers: A high fiber diet can help lower your LDL cholesterol level to reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Fruits and vegetables have a high fiber content. Losing excess body fat, as already mentioned, also keeps your heart from having to work so hard.

Absorb more nutrients: You may already be a good fruit and vegetable eater, but to get the maximum nutritional benefit, their cell walls must be broken down. To fully break down the cell wall of greens, you need to chew the greens until they are almost a liquid, which would take a very long time! Let your blender do the work for you.

To Have More Energy: Chlorophyll is the sun’s energy absorbed through plants to give them their bright green color. Chlorophyll is able to deliver oxygen throughout your body. It is also a detoxifying agent, because it binds to heavy metals and toxins in your body.

You will find that when you consume more dark green vegetables, you also experience an increase in your energy level. An easy way to get more greens into your diet is by drinking green smoothies.

To Look Amazing: Your hair, skin and nails will all begin to look better. The cleansing and detoxifying ability of dark green vegetables helps with the elimination of toxins and establishes a healthy intestinal lining. Because of this, many people find their acne will clear up, hair becomes shinier and softer, and nails become stronger and grow faster.

To Prevent Constipation: Regular consumption of fiber is crucial to your health. It is recommended that adults eat 25-30 grams of fiber daily, yet most Americans consume only 10-12 grams per day. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools, moving them through the GI tract swiftly, discouraging the growth of harmful bacteria in your colon to decrease your risk of getting colon cancer.

You’re Too Busy to Eat Breakfast: If you usually rush through your morning and forget to eat breakfast, you may find that you can squeeze in three minutes to make a smoothie. The trick is to have all of your fruit and vegetables ready to go. Freezing your fruit is a great way to make a thick, milkshake-like smoothie.

Bonus: Kids love them too! In our house, we call these Green Smoothies our Yummy Shamrock Shakes.

Although both recipes are made using spinach, feel free to substitute other dark greens, such as kale, collard or beet greens. If you don’t love your Green Smoothie the first time you make it, that’s alright. You may initially want to decrease the amount of greens you put into your smoothie. Since it takes 8-10 attempts at a new food before we accept it, it may take several smoothies for you to actually say you enjoy them.

Creamy Green Smoothie
1 cup fresh spinach leaves*
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 cup milk, almond milk or soy milk
½ of a medium ripe banana (frozen without the peeling)
Up to ½ of a ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed
4 ounces vanilla Greek Yogurt
Put all ingredients into blender, adding the spinach first. Blend until smooth. Serves 1.

Berry-Green Smoothie
1 cup fresh spinach leaves*
1 small cucumber, peeled
½ cup frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries or strawberries)
½ of a medium ripe banana (frozen without the peeling)
4 ounces Blueberry Greek Yogurt
½ cup 1% milk, water or tea
Put all ingredients into blender, adding the spinach first. Blend until smooth. Serves 1.
*If you take Warfarin/Coumadin, please tell your doctor that you plan to increase your intake of leafy greens, as you may need to have your INR checked & your dosage of medication adjusted.

For more information, call the dietitians at Veterans Memorial Hospital at 563-568-3411.
 

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