Monday, December 28, 2009
My husband and I have been making a concerted effort to clean up our diet and make it as healthy as possible. As part of that effort we have added smoothies. Are all smoothies healthy? No. Many of the smoothies that you buy are nothing more than sugar filled fruit flavored beverages. They taste great, but they are more unhealthy than healthy. To make certain our smoothies are as healthy as possible I always make them myself. That way I know exactly what we are consuming and that it is good for us.
What makes a healthy smoothie? It should be fruit and healthy add-ins only. What I mean by healthy add-ins are those items that have a beneficial health impact. There are many things you can add which I will summarize below along with what they contain.
Freshly ground flaxseed – omega 3 fatty acids
Wheat germ – folate, vitamin E
Sunflower Seeds – folate, selenium and vitamin E
Carrots – beta carotene
Tofu – calcium
Black strap molasses – potassium
Cinnamon – helps to body process sugar more effectively
Ginger – anti-inflammatory
Raw spinach – beta carotene, and folate
These are some of things I add to my smoothies to ramp up the nutrition. I also like to use a variety of fruits each week to maximize the phytonutrients that are different in each fruit.
Wild blueberries, cranberries and goji berries are very common in smoothies at are house. Blueberries have been shown to induce cancer cell suicide. Wild blueberries contain higher levels of antioxidants than their cultivated relatives. I try to keep a bag of frozen wild blueberries on hand at all times. Cranberries contain ellagic acids, anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, which promotes cancer cell suicide and inhibits blood vessel growth to the tumors. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants particularly vitamin A. Early studies have indicated consuming goji berries may help boost the immune system.
I have had friends ask if I am concerned about the natural sugar in fruit and whether that might promote cancer, since cancer loves sugar. Initially I was concerned about fruit, but as I learned more I realized my concern was unwarranted. Many studies have shown that consuming fruit is inversely related to an occurrence of cancer. Additionally whole fruit contains many phytonutrients and eliminating it from our diet would mean reducing our intake of those healthy nutrients. To maximize our nutrient intake I change the fruit I buy every couple of weeks. I also always add cinnamon to fruit to help our bodies to process the natural sugar. Also by adding additional fiber with ground flaxseeds, wheat germ or sunflower seeds you are ensuring the fruit travels through your gastrointestinal system as rapidly as possible.
When I make smoothies I always start with a fruit combination I know works, and then add at least two of the add-ins above for extra nutrition. This morning we had a banana, orange and cranberry smoothie with wheat germ and flaxseeds.