Whether you choose to eat oatmeal or drink a green smoothie for breakfast, you get a healthy mixture of nutrients, vitamins and minerals and a metabolic boost. Neither is clearly better than the other, but it does help to learn more about the merits and potential downsides of each before you choose one to be your morning mainstay.
A healthy breakfast in the form of a nutrient-packed smoothie or filling bowl of oatmeal does more than just get you through to lunch. According to MayoClinic.com registered dietitian Katherine Zeratsky, a balanced morning meal prevents overeating, puts you on track to make other healthy choices and can even spur you to be more physically active throughout the day.
According to the USDA, a cup of cooked oatmeal has approximately 165 calories, 6 g of protein, 3.5 g of fat, 28 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of fiber and 0.5 g of sugar. Green smoothies can vary widely in nutritional content based on what they contain, but a 12 oz. green smoothie with both leafy greens and fruit has about 130 calories, 1 g of fat, 30 g of carbohydrates, 5 g of fiber and 5 g of protein.
The foundation of a healthy diet is variety, which includes getting regular servings from each major food group. Oatmeal is a whole grain, and if you serve it with milk and fresh fruit, you can cover three of the five major groups with your breakfast. Putting at least a full serving of vegetables and fruits in a green smoothie covers two groups, and you can squeeze in a third if you blend the ingredients with low-fat milk or yogurt.
Your breakfast should contain enough calories and healthy nutrients to keep you satisfied until your next main meal, especially if you don’t have time to grab a snack at mid-morning. “Cooking Light” magazine registered dietitian Holley Johnson Grainger notes that the best breakfasts balance fiber-rich carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat to keep you full. On its own, oatmeal has enough of each component, but a green smoothie runs short on fat and protein without a dairy ingredient added. Fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal take longer to chew and eat. If you can drink a green smoothie quickly, it may take longer for your brain to send a fullness signal to your body, and you may end up taking in more calories than you need.
Green smoothies and oatmeal are both healthy morning choices, so it’s wise to look at the rest of your diet when you choose one. If you tend to eat a lot of whole grains at other meals, try getting in some fruits and veggies with a smoothie in the morning. Alternately, if you munch on fresh produce at other points during the day, use breakfast to get an extra serving of whole grains with oatmeal.