Getting a little—or a lot—more fruits and vegetables into your diet is always a good thing (1).
But when it comes to slamming them back in a tasty smoothie, are you getting all the benefits you could?
Fruits and vegetables are packed with micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help your body function better.
These nutrients can help prevent disease, contribute to fat loss, protect your heart, and keep you feeling and looking young.
And if a smoothie is going to help you get more of these nutrients and boost your fruit and veggie intake, then it would be silly for me to tell you to put them down, right? Well… maybe not.
Whole Foods Provide Longer Feelings of Fullness
Fruits and veggies might not be best suited as beverages. One of the biggest reasons whole fruits and vegetables are superior is because of what happens to the fiber when they’re liquefied—the structure is altered and these foods may not provide the same health benefits as when consumed whole. The insoluble fiber is reduced, and that fiber is key to how sugars are absorbed; that is, you end up absorbing them much faster, causing a metabolic response similar to drinking a fruit juice or soda, which may eventually lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. There is research indicating that people who eat more whole fruits, as opposed to drinking them as fruit juices, are less likely to get type 2 diabetes.
Whole foods also provide longer feelings of fullness than smoothies or fruit juices, because your body takes a longer time to break down the nutrients. This is largely due to the presence of fiber along with the fact that it simply takes longer to eat food than drink it.
Smoothies can also help calories creep up quickly, depending on what you put in them. Using almond milk, nut butters, flaxseeds, and other ingredients can add quick, unnoticed calories. Not that that’s a problem in and of itself—but if it’s not keeping you full for very long you’re likely to find yourself eating something shortly after. Those extra calories can add up quickly if you’re not paying attention.
Getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables every day has a number of health benefits, and if you can get up to eight per day if you’re in great shape. If a smoothie every day helps you add a serving or two, that’s great, but it probably shouldn’t be your sole source of fruit/veggie intake.