When it comes to smoothies, everybody’s in. There’s nothing more refreshing and satisfying. But what’s really in your smoothies, and how do smoothies fit into a healthy nutrition routine?
Yes, they’re loaded with antioxidants from fresh fruit, not to mention plenty of vitamins, like A and C. But most are low in protein. SHAPE magazine warns that not everything with the name “smoothie” is automatically good for you. Sweeteners and whole-fat ice cream as ingredients can dilute the nutrient density with excess calories. It’s time to take a look at the breakfast research and consider making smoothies even healthier, especially if they’re your favorite breakfast. The secret is protein.
Take for example a study published in the journal Obesity this spring, based on nutrition research from the University of Missouri. Teenagers tried one of three breakfast routines: no breakfast at all, a 500-calorie breakfast of cereal and milk, or a higher protein breakfast. This study showed that a high-protein breakfast delivers satisfaction all day long. It reduces calorie intake, an easy way to prevent weight gain.
This isn’t the first study to show the value of protein in the morning. Eggs come up frequently in this research. University of Connecticut researchers reported last year that eggs in the morning helped study participants lose 65% more weight. See details on the SafeEggs website.
So what’s all this mean for your smoothies? It’s time to pack in some protein! Adding an egg to a morning smoothie balances out the nutrition profile. It gives you the sustaining power of high value protein with a perfect complement of essential amino acids—6 grams per egg.
For people on the go, this is a fast and easy way to ensure a well-rounded nutrition intake from real foods. The egg addition also delivers extra vitamins B12, D, riboflavin, and folate. One of our favorites is the orange mango smoothie recipe. It’s low fat but packed with 14 grams of protein, not to mention vitamins A and C and fiber. Four ingredients and a blender. That’s all it takes for a healthy breakfast or snack.
We’re surprised that so many smoothie aficionados miss the protein opportunity in smoothies—or settle for expensive powders that taste more like cardboard than food. Personally, I like the fresh taste of real foods, and couldn’t imagine anything more natural than a real shell egg. Having the option of pasteurized shell eggs makes this smoothie recipe option perfectly safe. Even the USDA defines pasteurized shell eggs as safe to eat, even raw.
Now, what else can you do to boost the health value of your favorite smoothies? Go for low-fat or fat-free dairy ingredients, like skim milk or low-fat yogurt. Refrain from adding sugars; let the natural sweetness of fruit carry the flavor. A great example is the banana licuado smoothie recipe; the ripeness of bananas makes this one a sweet treat, even with no sugar.
Want to pack in some protein with real (and real safe) foods? Here are more smoothie recipes. Who says great nutrition can’t be fun? Go healthy and enjoy!