Smoothies and juicing have become a popular way to make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and getting the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that you need for good health. If you’ve not started getting the benefits yourself yet, it’s time to learn why smoothies and juices can help you to live a longer, healthier life and get some tips on what not to do with them to ruin the health effects.
Why Smoothies and Juices Are Healthy
Smoothies and juicing have a few plus points working in their favor and one of the biggest is the ability to pack a lot more fruit and veggies into your life. If you’re someone who could do with getting more helpings of fruit and veg every day, smoothies and juicing can be an easy way to bump up your intake and chances are, you’ll be consuming far more than you would if you ate the whole food versions. It’s also a great way to broaden your horizons with the type of vegetables you eat and get nutrients from ones you wouldn’t normally eat whole.
Vegetable based juices can be a super easy way to make sure you’re absorbing lots of the nutrients you need for good health. If you’ve not been eating great until now, your digestion may not be as efficient as it could be and can mean you don’t absorb vitamins and minerals as well.
One of the great things about smoothies in particular is the chance to use different combinations of fruit and vegetables to boost your intake. Green smoothies are a perfect example of this as they usually have a fruit in there too (often blueberries or banana). You can tailor them to include ingredients that offer more nutrition. For example, blending leafy greens, berries and avocados will give you vitamin C, vitamin E and a huge range of vitamins and minerals that you may not otherwise get from your diet.
Getting Started with Juicing and Smoothies
If you’re totally new to the idea of juicing or making smoothies, it’s often best to start small and build things up. Try juicing and creating healthy smoothies once a week to begin with and look to build up to doing it every day. It can help to only juice smaller amounts at first and drink it throughout the day rather than all at once.
This can be really important with juicing, especially if you’re trying out new foods that you didn’t eat whole in case they don’t agree with you in reasonably large amounts. Start off with fruits and vegetables that you already like to eat whole and gradually branch out into other options.
Some of the veggies that are usually easy to digest include celery and cucumber. The next step up is red and green lettuce, Romaine lettuce and spinach. From here, you can work your way towards leafy greens. These are more dense and can be a lot harder to digest so although they’re super healthy, they’re not always the best way to ease yourself into juicing in particular. If you’re not keen on the taste of juices, try adding a bit of ginger to help your taste buds get used to it.
What to Include in Your Smoothies
One drawback of juicing is the lack of fiber content. Smoothies keep the fiber content of fruit and vegetables intact as you’re blending the food as a whole but it tends to be lost when you’re just extracting the juice. This means you can’t rely on juicing to give you fiber so you’ll need to make sure you’re getting plenty from elsewhere in your diet. Smoothies are a great way to do this as you can easily add ingredients that bump up your fiber intake. You can pack in more fiber through oats, chia seeds and flax seeds.
It’s also easy to blend healthy fats and protein into smoothies too. Some fruits are a natural source of healthy fats, including avocado, or you can add chia or flax seeds. For protein, you can include Greek yogurt, nut butters, cottage cheese, hemp and pumpkin seeds, almonds and kale.
What Not to Include
Just be careful not to add in too many sugary ingredients into smoothies. This can quickly turn an otherwise healthy smoothie into a sugar bomb that spikes your blood sugar levels. Stick to a balance of fruits, veggies, protein and healthy fats, which will give you a nice balance of nutrients. Lots of fruits are naturally sweet and can satisfy cravings for something sweet without needing to add too much else. You can also keep the sugar content down by opting for more greens in your juices or smoothies.
I would love to hear from you on your thoughts on juices and smoothies.
No doubt you know that you need a wide range of vitamins and minerals in your diet but you might not be so clued up on why they’re so important and what they can do for your health. Vitamin C is an obvious one but there are lots of others that play important roles in your body and we don’t always get enough of them in our diet. Here are 6 essential vitamins and minerals that will help you to stay healthy.
If you want to keep your eyes and skin healthy, you definitely want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A in your diet.
There are two types of vitamin A: retinoids and carotenoids. Both are important for keeping skin, eyes, cells and tissues healthy and increasing immunity. The main difference is where you get them from. Retinoids are more readily found in animal products while carotenoids are usually plant based.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll find vitamin A in lots of orange foods, including carrots, sweet potato and cantaloupe melon. Some of the less obvious sources include kale, spinach, liver, eggs, milk, red peppers and mangoes.
Most of us will get enough vitamin A in our diet if we eat the right foods but be wary of supplementing as too much vitamin A can be dangerous, especially if you’re pregnant. Your body stores it rather than flushing out any excess and if it gets too high, it can be toxic. Stick to getting your vitamin A intake from foods and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about!
This sweet potato salad is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy:
Vitamin E is more of an antioxidant than a vitamin and can help to protect your body against the damaging effects of free radicals. Without this, oxidative stress is a problem and this has been linked to lots of health issues, including serious ones.
Almonds are a great natural source of vitamin E. You can also eat sunflower seeds, soybeans, spinach, kale, asparagus, celery, cucumber and tomato to boost your vitamin E intake.
Here’s a nice recipe for an almond and raspberry shortbread:
If you’ve been lacking in energy and feeling out of breath lately, it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough iron. Women can be particularly prone to iron deficiency anemia, thanks to the blood we lose at “that” time of the month! Iron helps hemoglobin, the pigment in red blood cells, to transport oxygen around the body.
Liver is a really good source of iron but if you don’t eat meat, you’ve still got plenty of other options. Spinach, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds can also give you an iron boost. Bonus points if you can team these with a vitamin C rich food so that the iron is absorbed more easily.
A good example of this combination is this sweet potato curry recipe is full of iron boosting chickpeas and spinach, plus vitamin C to help with absorption:
If chronic fatigue and muscle cramps are common problems for you, it may be a sign you need to up your magnesium intake. This is a mineral that lots of people are deficient in, which is bad news given how many key roles it plays in the body. From heart health to protecting against osteoporosis, this is one mineral you really don’t want to be lacking in!
Worried you’re not getting enough magnesium? You can get more of it through bananas, dark chocolate, leafy greens and pumpkin seeds.
These raw chocolate bars are a yummy, natural way to boost your magnesium levels:
Potassium is another mineral that can cause a lot of problems if you’re not getting enough of it in your diet. It’s involved in keeping muscles and nerves healthy and is also important for your kidneys and digestive system.
Good sources of potassium include avocado, bananas, potato, sweet potato, prunes and raisins. You can also drink coconut water, which often also contains other minerals such as magnesium and zinc.
These Banana and Sweet Potato Muffins are a great way to combine two potassium rich ingredients and is totally delicious:
Chromium is a mineral that lots of people have never heard but it’s really important for making sure every cell in your body gets vital energy. If you don’t get enough chromium, you may get sugar cravings.
You don’t need to eat much different to get enough chromium as whole grains, meat, most vegetables and some herbs all contain it.
This chicken curry recipe gives you a healthy dose of meat and veggies and is super easy to make too!
Eating a balanced diet full of whole foods is definitely the way to go for getting essential vitamins and minerals into your diet. Eating the rainbow and loading up your plate with lots of different colors every day will go a long way towards making sure you don’t become deficient in key nutrients.