• Glenn Wilson
    Dr. Greger: How else can we maximize health benefits of smoothies? Let’s look at greens, one of the healthiest foods on the planet. I’ve always said that the best way to get your greens in is whichever way you’ll eat the most of them.

    I remember the first time I sipped a green smoothie. I was speaking somewhere in Michigan, hosted by a darling physician couple. They told me they drank “blended salads” for breakfast. Intellectually, I loved the idea. Greens in convenient liquid form? I envisioned myself drinking a salad on my way to work every day. But then I tasted it. It felt like I was drinking someone’s lawn.

    If you’re like me, you may need to build up to green smoothies. Pretty much everyone loves fruit smoothies. A frozen banana, berries, some apple—delicious. But, if you add a handful of baby spinach, you may hardly even taste the greens. Over time, as you add more and more greens, your taste buds can adapt.

    More at the NutritionFacts topic page: Smoothies.

    Smoothies (and blended soups and sauces) offer a convenient way to boost both the quantity and quality of fruit and vegetable intake by reducing food particle size to help maximize nutrient absorption.

    Dr. Greger: Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors associated with increased risk of premature death include things like smoking, and excessive drinking, and not eating enough greens. The best way to get your greens is in whichever way you’ll eat the most of them, and one way to sneak extra greens into your daily diet is with whole food smoothies, a potent blend of good nutrition in a quick, portable, delicious form. The Mayo Clinic offers this as a basic green smoothie recipe, combining the healthiest of fruits—berries—with the healthiest of vegetables, dark green leafies. Two ounces of baby spinach is about a cup and a half. Curly parsley is another mild beginner green to start with. Surprisingly, the sweetness of the fruit masks the bitterness of the greens, such that the pickiest of children love them, along with any adults who would otherwise not consume dark green leafy vegetables for breakfast.

    Or even fruit for that matter. The average teen may only get about 1/20th of a serving of fruit, otherwise—and Loops don’t count. But offering smoothies can have a dramatic effect on fruit consumption for students who do not want to take time peeling or chewing fruit—who doesn’t have time to chew fruit? But the milkshake-y texture of smoothies may not just boost the quantity of fruit and vegetable consumption, but also the quality.

    Carotenoid phytonutrients, like beta carotene and lycopene, can exist as microscopic crystals trapped within the cell walls of fruits and vegetables, and they’re released only when the cells are disrupted; that’s why we need to chew really well. (“Mastication” is doctor-speak for chewing.) We either have to chew better or choose plants that are easier to chew. For example, while tomatoes have more beta-carotene than watermelon does, the watermelon’s beta-carotene is more bioaccessible, because it has kind of wimpy cell walls. But the cells of other fruits and vegetables are smaller and tougher. To maximize nutrient release, food particle size would ideally be reduced to smaller than the width of the individual plant cells, but you can’t do that with chewing. Most vegetable particles end up greater than two millimeters when you chew them, which corresponds to way up here, whereas if we broke open all the cells we could release much more nutrition. We can never chew as well as a blender. The particle size distribution from chewing is about what you’d get blending in a food processor for about five seconds, or one of those high speed blenders for maybe half a second. 40 seconds in a blender and you can break spinach down to a subcellular level.

    Continue at NutritionFacts: Are Green Smoothies Good for You?

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    More in the category Health and Medical.

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