I’ve never been a big breakfast person. Sometimes, I’m up for a bowl of oatmeal, but most of the time, all I need is a smoothie to get me through until lunch.
My go-to was always a frozen banana, blueberry, and almond milk blend, but I was gently (well, not so gently) reminded that variety is important in a healthy diet. So, I started looking around.
The more I researched, the more I saw green smoothies. What were the benefits of green smoothies — this mysterious ambrosia everyone on the internet was talking about? Why drink green smoothies?
Well, let me tell you what I found out:
1. They Increase Your Daily Fruit and Vegetable Intake
The smoothies lean heavily on leafy greens, hence their color. But you can also throw in avocados, bananas, even broccoli — there’s no set recipe, only that it ends up green.
This is great for two reasons. First, it keeps you from having to scramble on days when you’re struggling to get your vegetables in. They happen! The USDA recommends eating at least 2 cups of vegetables a day, so starting your day out with at least a cup means fewer worries later in the day.
Second, however, is the sheer versatility in green smoothies.
2. They Keep Your Diet Varied
Remember what I said about variety being important? Even though kale and spinach are great for you, swapping them out for collard greens, chard, and even broccoli and green beans can round out your micronutrients in a way simply sticking to kale and spinach can’t.
There’s plenty of room for variety among fruits, too. Rotate between apples, berries, apricots, peaches, pears, and the occasional avocado or banana for the same benefits.
Variety in your diet – especially in your fruits and vegetables — doesn’t just mean more micronutrients. Studies have shown that variety can help you sleep, decrease your risk of lung cancer, lower your risk of developing cataracts, and many other unrelated benefits I wasn’t expecting to be linked.
Basically, the more fun you have with them, the better off you’ll be — and that’s one of the great green smoothie health benefits. While it’s a bit more tedious to throw things into a blender than it is to grab a pre-made smoothie, there are some benefits from the fact that you’re doing it yourself.
3. They’re Healthier Than the Store-Bought Stuff
Store-bought juices and smoothies are convenient, but they’re not the best choice, even when they’re 100% juice.
There are a couple different reasons for this. For example, many (if not most) store-bought juices and smoothies are very low in fiber and very high in sugars and calories. This is to be expected for some fruits, of course!
If you look at the ingredient label on store-bought smoothies, you’ll usually see that it’s made from juice. Juices are concentrated forms of fruits and full of nutrients and sugars but without the bulk that comes from fiber. That means you need more fruits – and more sugars – to fill an 8oz glass.
A smoothie made at home, though, can get all of that all-important fiber from your leafy greens and fruits and keep them in your smoothie. Not only is that good for your digestive tract, but it’s also good for your daily calorie intake.
While a bottled juice is more convenient, one of the benefits of smoothies made at home is that it can be made quickly. Using frozen ingredients along with fresh, cuts down prep time drastically and helps with your smoothie’s consistency. The nutritional value is just the same, and it even helps get a better texture for your smoothie without having to add ice.
4. Did I Mention They’re High in Fiber?
Seriously, I can’t talk about fiber enough. You probably know that it helps keep you regular, but did you know that fiber helps keep your gut bacteria healthy, and that healthy gut bacteria affects everything from BMs to stress levels?
Fiber also reduces your risk of heart disease, reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes, and helps you feel fuller for longer. That last one is one of the biggest benefits of green smoothies for breakfast; they’ll keep you going straight through until lunch.
Fiber is found in a ton of vegetables you can add to a raw green smoothie. Collard greens, for example, give you 30% of your daily recommended intake, spinach gives you 17%, and broccoli gives you 21%.
That doesn’t even touch on the fiber you can get from fruits like apples, pears, and bananas. While it’s best to spread your fiber intake out throughout the day, getting a good dose of it first thing in the morning can do wonders for your body.
5. Green Smoothies are Great for Jump-Starting a Healthy Diet
If you’re just transitioning to a healthier, plant-based diet, letting your stomach relax a bit and build up its healthy gut flora is one of the best things you can do for yourself. One of the great spinach smoothie health benefits? It helps do just that.
There’s a sugar in leafy greens that uniquely helps crowd out bad bacteria and feed good bacteria in your gut. Those bacteria don’t just help your stomach break down food; they also help your metabolism and boost your immune system.
Along with the weight loss benefits that dietary fiber gives, one of the vegetable smoothie benefits — a healthy gut biome, is linked to weight loss. A healthy diet can’t fix everything, but avoiding foods that cultivate bad bacteria and eating foods like leafy greens to promote good bacteria can send you running in the right direction.
6. Green Smoothies are Great for Your Skin
Leafy greens are full of vitamin C. Your skin is full of vitamin C, too, and that high concentration helps antioxidants protect against skin damage caused by UV radiation.
Vitamin A — another vitamin found in abundance in many leafy greens — has similar skin benefits. Getting enough vitamin A in your diet can help prevent the damaging effects of UV exposure, reduce stress, and reduce the effects of aging.
The third vitamin that can help your skin? Vitamin E. This vitamin is linked to the most beneficial effects; it can help keep your skin hydrated, promote the healing of cuts, help prevent skin cancer, and even help treat eczema and psoriasis.
Needless to say, the spinach smoothie health benefits for your skin are huge.
7. They’re Great for Your Hair, Too
What do spinach, apples, and bananas all have in common?
Besides being great additions to green smoothies, these are all-natural sources of vitamin B7, also known as biotin. Not only does this smoothie vitamin help your body get energy from food, but it’s also one of the benefits of green smoothies for hair.
While there’s no evidence to support the fact that biotin actually helps your hair grow better, biotin deficiencies have been linked to hair loss.
Vitamin A takes a role in the world of hair care, as well. Regular dietary vitamin A – not supplements! — can help jumpstart the growth and development phase of the hair growth cycle. While nothing is concrete yet, vitamin A plays an undeniably important part in hair care.
8. They’re Easier to Digest
While there are some negatives that come with blending your food, the relationship between nutrient extraction and the size you can grind your food down to is more complex than you might think— there are some cases where it turns out to be a big plus.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is found in many leafy greens. Studies have shown that blending or pureeing leafy greens such as spinach, specifically and noticeably increases the absorption of folate. Since folate is needed to create red and white blood cells, convert carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA, I’d say that’s a pretty big deal.
As for digestion – it’s important to remember that saliva plays an important part in the process. Chewing your food helps jump-start saliva production, but you can get that going with smoothies too. Try munching on a slice of apple while you’re tossing the rest into the blender or drinking your smoothie more slowly to get the full health benefits of spinach smoothie.
9. They Keep Your Brain Active
It’s not the only study to conclude that either. One focused specifically on leafy greens and found that the brains of those who ate just 1–2 portions a day had brains that worked like when they were 10 years younger.
While a daily raw green smoothie may not turn you into the next Sherlock Holmes, one of those green drink benefits may very well be a sharper and more agile mind, no matter how old you are.
10. They Help You Sleep Better
Sleep is vital to health. A lack of it can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and depression, along with causing dangerous accidents on the road and around the workplace. Many people in the US and around the globe do not get enough sleep for their own health.
Tentative evidence, though, suggests that getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet can help you hit that sweet 8-hour mark. Scientists aren’t sure if it’s just because higher amounts of fruits and vegetables generally mean healthier habits, or if it’s an inherent quality of the foods themselves — but the correlation is undeniable.
Count it as one of the benefits of smoothies, then: since they’re a quick and easy way to get vegetables and fruits into your diet, they bring you a good way closer to getting the sleep you need every night.
11. They’re Customizable
We’re back to versatility again!
No matter what your diet goals, a green smoothie can be tailored to suit your needs. Trying to cut down on sugars? Stick with leafy greens and use fruits low on the glycemic index to compliment them. Cutting calories? Use more vegetables, use less fruit.
Adding avocados can help pad out your healthy fat intake for the day and choosing fiber-rich fruits and vegetables can help boost you above the baseline recommended amount of 28 g. Fruits and veggies can be swapped based on taste preferences too.
On the go? Green smoothies can keep for up to three days, depending on what you add to them. Trying to save money? Most of the produce is either available frozen or able to be bought cheaply.
What do you think? After realizing I needed a bit more variety in my smoothie life, this list of green smoothie benefits had me sold.
I may retreat back to my frozen banana and blueberry smoothies as an occasional treat, but I’ve already started throwing whatever green veggies I have in my fridge into my blender every morning. Between the flexibility, the vitamins, and (of course) the fiber, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back.
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