Most Americans do not get enough fruits and veggies in their diet, according to the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Fruit and vegetable shakes, or smoothies, are a healthy way to up your intake, as long as they are part of a healthy and balanced diet and not your only source of nutrition. Consult your doctor before making changes to your diet.
Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
Eating more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall balanced diet can significantly improve your health. Even in smoothie form, they are rich in nutrients that may be lacking in your diet, says the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, including fiber, folate, potassium, vitamins A and C and magnesium. Eating more may also reduce your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and certain types of cancer. And if weight loss is your goal, low-calorie, high-fiber fruits and vegetables can help, as long as you stay within your healthy-weight calorie range.
Fitting the Shakes in Your Diet
While smoothies are a good way to get more fruits and vegetables, they can be high in calories. Eating too many calories, even those from healthy sources, leads to weight gain. To keep calories under control, be mindful of the amount of fruits and vegetables you are adding to your smoothie. In general, 1/2 cup of fresh fruit or juice contains 60 calories, and 1 cup of fresh vegetables contains 25 calories. You also need to be aware of the calories in the ingredients you might add to your shake, such as milk, yogurt, nuts or sweeteners. To get your fruits and veggies and keep a lid on calories, replace your usual breakfast or midafternoon snack with a healthy smoothie. If you're short on time at lunch, balance your meal by including a fruit and vegetable shake with your sandwich.
Helps You Get More Veggies
Fruit and vegetable shakes not only help you get more of these nutrient-rich foods, but they may help those who are not a fan of vegetables get more in their diet. Good fruit and vegetable mixes might include spinach with bananas and kiwi, cucumbers with blueberries, or kale with strawberries and pineapple. These fruit and veggie combos are loaded with potassium, vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. When adding vegetables to your fruit shakes, start with a small amount so as not to alter taste too much and include naturally sweet fruits.
Things to Consider
Fruit and vegetable shakes make a healthy addition to your diet, but you risk nutritional deficiencies if you limit your intake to a shake-only diet. You may not get enough omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, iron, calcium, zinc and vitamins D and B-12 from just shakes. Also, drinking your fruits and veggies may not fill you up as much as eating them. A 2009 study published in "Appetite" found people were more satiated and ate fewer calories after eating a whole apple than after eating applesauce or drinking juice. Also, there's concern that fruit smoothies may increase the erosion of enamel on your teeth due to their high acidity, according to a 2014 study published in "European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry."
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Fuel Up Your Smoothie
- Vegetarian Times: Blueberry-Cucumber Smoothie
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- Appetite: The Effect of Fruit in Different Forms on Energy Intake and Satiety at Meals
- European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry: The Effects of Fruit Smoothies on Enamel Erosion
- Fruits and Veggies More Matters: What Are Phytochemicals?
- European Food Information Council: Vegetarianism - Nutritional Aspects to Consider When Going Green