03/06/2016
An expert shares.

Words by

Marley Tinnock

Nothing says #fitspo like a hearty liquid breakfast. And with colours ranging from green to orange to purple, the smoothie spectrum is vast and complex.

It might surprise you to know that there are smarter choices to make when it comes to building the ultimate #healthyliving smoothie (and no, we're not just talking about the bottle vs. jar debate). It is high time that we discovered what’s worth tossing at those blades of glory and what to throw trash-side.

Debate: Coconut Water vs H2O

While water is the elixir of life (and it's important to keep your daily intake high), nutritionist and founder of Bec Chin Nutrition, Rebecca Chin, tells us just how worthy coconut water is of a place in our blends.

“Coconut water in smoothies provides a source of carbohydrates and some micronutrients. It can also thicken the consistency of a smoothie and add flavour when compared to plain water. However, consideration needs to be taken when it comes to cost, type of coconut water (watch out for packaged products with hidden additives) and total calories, as coconut water is not calorie-free like plain water.

A nutritional goldmine, coconut water is the clear liquid harvested from young coconuts. A natural isotonic, coconut water packs electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. Rich in zinc, iodine, ascorbic acid and B-group vitamins, it has been hailed as a youth tonic and ‘Nature's Gatorade’, and has positive benefits for digestive and urinary health.

Debate: Supergreens powder vs. fresh green veggies

Appealing to your inner penny-pincher, this one definitely comes down to cost-saving. Whether you have your own patch or rely on the local green grocer, it would entail a mammoth blender and a long list of ingredients to pack the nutrients into your smoothie that are contained in your typical super greens/vital greens powder.

The regular culprits you should find in your greens powder include wheatgrass, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, algae and kelp, spirulina, chlorella, coenzyme Q10, ginger and a boot full of probiotics and enzymes.

While all these goodies aren’t completely necessary, it seems they definitely do add a bang to any smoothie.

I think adding greens to smoothies in any form really depends on your intake of other vegetables throughout the day. Results from the most recent National Health Survey found that only 10% adult females and 7% of adult males met their recommended intakes for vegetables. If you struggle to meet your daily quota of vegetables, I’d definitely recommend slipping some in to your smoothie,” adds Rebecca.

Debate: Natural fibre vs. Fibre supplements

For the most part, Rebecca doesn’t believe adding fibre supplements is necessary if you have an adequate balanced diet.

If your diet is sufficient in wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, there shouldn’t be any need for additional fibre supplements in smoothies. If you do need to increase your fibre intake, it is important to ensure you are also consuming adequate fluids to avoid bowel trouble.

Marketed well, but not designed for everyday use or every body, fibre supplements are usually prescribed in addition to a healthy diet to assist with people suffering digestive concerns.

Nuts and seeds are a great fibrous addition to your smoothie, as well as a variety of fruits, vegetables and seeds. These natural sources of fibre help to maintain a healthy digestive system, as well as lower risk for intestinal problems and heart disease.

Debate: Agave vs. dates

There are a multitude of sweeteners available – from honey, stevia and granulated sugar to agave or dates. The recent shift toward making conscious food choices has meant that a few of the more obscure sources of natural sugar have risen to the limelight. So should we be using the conveniently liquefied Agave? Or the oddly shaped and curiously coloured date?

When we asked Rebecca, she mentioned that Agave syrup can be highly processed, similar to high fructose corn syrup and doesn’t even compare nutritionally to dates. If your smoothie needs a little extra sweetness I would definitely recommend opting for dates, being a more nutritious, wholefood option.

Comparatively, they contain fewer calories, more dietary fibre, antioxidants, calcium, iron and magnesium. Dates win! You might have to invest in a more hard-core blender, but you’ll probably save on trips to the health food store, as dates are super readily available.

So sometimes it pays (literally), to be conscious of your smoothie choices. Gone are the days of two scoops, banana and milk and hallowed are the mornings of nutrient rich, energising goodness.

So what does Bec drink? Her nutrient-packed recipe goes a little something like this:

Banana, date and almond smoothie (tastes almost like a banoffie pie…but healthy!)

1/2 frozen ripe banana
2 pitted dates 
30g rolled oats 
2 egg whites 
1 tsp honey 
15g almonds 
1 cup skim milk 

Method:

1. Soak oats and dates in hot water for 2-3 mins to soften (will blend easier) then drain off any excess water 
2. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth 

Nutritional information:
Energy: 1788 kJ
Carbohydrate: 53.6g
Protein: 25.2g 
Fat: 11.5g (1g saturated fat)
Fibre: 6g  

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