"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Not all fruits fit well in your morning smoothie

September 12, 2023 – A each day smoothie has modified Lindsey Seeger's life. After doctors said her debilitating long-COVID illness can be the brand new normal, she sought out another medicine expert called a naturopath. Her recommendations included a smoothie for breakfast, filled with berries, bananas, cashew milk, MCT coconut oil and other ingredients.

“As a foodie, I hated the idea of ​​drinking a meal. I'd rather chew and enjoy an avocado toast. But it really helped me feel so good,” said Seegers, a nonprofit director in San Diego. Although there's no evidence that smoothies can cure Long COVID (so far as we all know, nothing does), she began feeling higher after just just a few weeks.

But latest research suggests that combining some fruits when drinking smoothies in an try to achieve health advantages could have opposed effects.

Focus on flavanols

The study within the journal Food & Function, looked specifically on the flavanol content of certain fruits. It seems that a banana and berry smoothie may not have as many health advantages as you think that. When you combine fruits high within the enzyme that causes fruit to show brown when exposed to oxygen (like bananas) with fruits high within the helpful plant compounds called flavanols (like berries), the flavanol content drops quickly. After half-hour, the quantity of 1 flavanol dropped by 80%.

Flavanols, also often known as flavan-3-ols, are a typical form of flavonoids—plant compounds which were shown to advertise health. Last 12 months, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics issued its first guidelines for flavanol consumption after evaluating available research. The group found that these compounds, present in tea, apples, berries, grapes, red wine and cocoa, promote cardiometabolic health.

“If you want to increase your intake of flavanols through smoothies, avoid combining flavanol-rich ingredients like berries with fruits that easily turn brown when cut,” said study lead writer Javier Ottaviani PhD, director of the Core Laboratory of Mars Edge, a part of Mars Inc., and associate researcher within the University of California, Davis, Department of Nutrition. “This could destroy the flavanol.”

This effect isn't unique to smoothies, he said. “When you pulverize or destroy the structure of the fruit, allowing contact between the enzyme and the flavanols, it causes this loss.” Avocados, for instance, also contain the enzyme, so you possibly can expect lower flavanol levels in guacamole.

The larger picture

This may sound like a recipe for disaster, but don't hand over your regular smoothie (or guacamole) just yet.

“The last thing we want is for people to think, 'Oh, if I make a smoothie, it's not healthy,'” said Dr. Mary Ann Lila, director of the Plants for Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University. A smoothie is a particularly healthy method to get all of the bioactive compounds from the fruit, she said – so long as you drink it immediately. “If the integrity of the bioactive compounds is destroyed, you can see it. If I leave my smoothie and it turns brown, I wouldn't drink it.”

Plus, Ottaviani's advice only applies should you're specifically trying to boost your flavanol intake through smoothies. Most people don't need to do this. Eating a varied food regimen—especially with a each day cup of green or black tea, which provides greater than half the really helpful flavanols—can offset a banana's flavanol-killing effects. And bananas offer some impressive advantages of their very own.

“If you add a banana to your smoothie, you're getting potassium and phosphorus. Maybe not as many flavanols,” says Wintana Kiros, a clinical nutritionist within the Washington, D.C. area. “But if you're eating other foods for lunch or dinner, you're eating them throughout the day. The all-or-nothing attitude is the problem.”

The lead writer of the study agrees. “Bananas are still a great fruit,” said Ottaviani. “You can still use them in smoothies. The important thing is to eat a balanced diet.”

Just get your flavanols from elsewhere.

What goes flawed with smoothies

While you most likely don’t have to worry in regards to the flavanol content of your smoothie, Is It's possible to drink a smoothie that backfires.

For example, an excessive amount of fruit could cause problems. “A big problem with smoothies is the total amount of calories and sugar. We definitely want you to eat fruit, but not too much of it,” says Dr. Joanne Slavin, a professor of food science and nutrition on the University of Minnesota. “When most people start blending fruit, it becomes a lot of calories.”

A related mistake: omitting vital nutrients. “Especially for people on a calorie-restricted diet, a smoothie needs to contain protein so it can replace a meal,” said Slavin. She has researched the consequences of protein in smoothies. Along with the fiber in fruit, protein can assist you to feel fuller longer.

Store-bought smoothies may pose an issue. For one thing, you might have no control over how much sugar is added. Plus, “nutrients and bioactive compounds are not compromised in home processing,” Lila said. “However, they can be compromised in commercial processing when heat is used or additives are added.”

Secrets of a nutritious – and delicious – smoothie

So you're able to get out the blender. What should go in? Aim for a mixture of nutrients. “I recommend a cup of berries, a cup of spinach and Greek yogurt or protein powder,” Kiros said. “You need a source of fiber, a source of fat and a source of protein.”

Don't be afraid to get a little bit creative either. Here are some ideas:

  • Fruit after all. Frozen fruit works particularly well here. It helps thicken the smoothie and might contain more bioactive compounds than fresh fruit since it is frozen at the height of freshness. Lila opts for blueberries in her own morning smoothie. Her research has found that eating them each day can reverse cognitive decline in older people. But don't limit yourself to the standard bananas and berries – try tropical pineapple and mango, or try peach, melon or kiwi.
  • Surprise: Vegetables. You get more bioactive compounds with less sugar while you add vegetables to your smoothie. Avocado, for instance, adds a creamy texture, mild flavor, and healthy fat. Lila recommends mixing kale with yogurt or a splash of juice before adding the remaining of the ingredients—the plant-based flavor blends in perfectly. Kiros has spinach. And Seegers, the foodie who hated her breakfast, adds frozen carrots.
  • Protein, definitely: If you're bored with the standard yogurt and milk, try adding kefir, cottage cheese or ricotta, tofu, peanut powder, your favorite nut butter, edamame, canned white beans, or seeds like chia, flax, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Delicious extras: “To be healthy, it has to be something you want to eat,” Lila said. “I believe in making things tasty.” That is usually a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, cocoa powder or vanilla extract. Seegers is a giant fan of frozen cubes of crushed ginger.

In fact, Seegers has turn out to be an enormous fan of smoothies on the whole. “I can't give up smoothies,” she said. “They're my thing now, they're my life.”