Superfood Smoothies: 5 Popular Myths Debunked
Since superfood recipes became health trends in the early 2000’s, superfood smoothies have also been touted as wonder foods, with smoothie proponents promising they offer cures for illnesses, ripped bodies, and eternal youth. While no single food type is a cure-all and a perfect dietary solution, nutrient-packed smoothies offer great benefits. Let’s see if we can separate the facts from the myths!
“Superfood” is a popular term that refers to nutrient-dense foods that are found in nature and are known to have highly desirable health benefits. Some people are wary of such hype-y sounding titles, for good reason. Over the years, people have built up many supposed “miracle foods'' that tended to produce underwhelming results. These days, however, the term “superfood” has some merit and usefulness, as it helps people recognize and remember that certain foods/ingredients do indeed have potentially therapeutic effects and superior nutrient profiles. You would be hard-pressed to find an educated person today still unaware that certain foods offer healing and illness-prevention properties, while others are damaging to human health.
Superfoods do not promise to be the end all be all of good health. There is no food source that can quickly and permanently counteract poor health resulting from years of unhealthy consumption. However, there are highly beneficial and powerful “superfoods”that have remarkable nutritional value and can produce positive results, especially when consumed as part of a diet that centres raw and plant-based whole food ingredients. Harvard Health offers the following list of superfoods:
- Olive oil
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains
These foods provide a high level of nutrition in a serving of relatively few calories. They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Superfoods and Smoothies: A Perfect Match
Adding superfood smoothies to your diet is the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to improve the quality of your diet. Smoothies allow people to greatly increase the proportion of raw, densely nutritious plant ingredients in their diet, thereby potentially vastly improving health and wellness.ANYONE can make a tasty smoothie. They take seconds or at most a few minutes to prepare, and they facilitate consumption of a wide range of super healthy, largely raw plant ingredients in an easily digested, speedy, portable form -- a delicious beverage!
Readily available—your local grocery store and even your kitchen spice racks are stacked with underappreciated healthy foods that work well in smoothies, most of which won’t break the bank. From dark leafy greens, to tastier berries, to seeds and nuts, to humble whole grains like oats, an impressive variety of beneficial ingredients are suitable for smoothie production, and anyone can learn how to combine ingredients to produce yummy results.
Easy to prepare—superfood smoothies are forgiving. Most fruit and vegetables that have high nutritional value can be tossed into a blender with a few other supplemental ingredients like seeds and nuts, and liquid. Simply blend and voila, a healthy smoothie in a jiffy! -- The trick is to figure out which combinations you enjoy.
Affordable—you don’t need to pay a premium for the more exotic superfoods. You can just stock up on the ones that are affordable. Watch for ingredients that come in season in your area, which is when they’re cheapest. Watch for sales and bulk buying opportunities, and stock up if the ingredients store or freeze well. A spacious freezer is a smoothie-lover’s best friend.
Play “hide the avocado”! Sometimes, people find that certain superfood ingredients that are desirable for their health taste a little weird or unsavoury. This makes blending them in a smoothie with other fruits and vegetables the only appetizing manner of consumption . If you have finicky kids (or adults) in your home, smoothies might be the only way to get certain healthy ingredients into their bodies!
Debunked Myths About Superfood Smoothies
But first, let’s correct some of the most common misconceptions.
Myth #1: It’s just another hype.
It is, but it isn’t.
Smoothies contain a variety of ingredients, so they can contain superfoods and still be unhealthy. For instance, when you include too much fruit or additives like milk, juice concentrates, and chocolate syrup, you’ll end up with a sugary drink that could be more harmful than helpful to your body.
Nutritionists recommend avoiding sweeteners in smoothies and limiting fruits to one cup for each serving. Instead, you should pack vegetables and an appropriate amount of superfoods in your smoothies to keep them well-balanced and truly healthy. It’s also a good idea to make your own organic smoothies instead of using store-bought ones so you can control the ingredients and avoid artificial sweeteners.
When done properly, superfood smoothie recipes are effective sources of much-needed nutrients that most people find difficult to incorporate into their normal diets.
Myth #2: If it’s healthy, it tastes yucky!
It’s an open secret—healthier foods tend to taste the worst.
Thankfully, the best smoothies don’t need to taste awful. The simple trick is pairing your superfoods with other healthy ingredients that have compatible tastes. The most common recommended sweeteners are frozen fruits, though limited to less than 25 percent of each serving.
Pineapples, bananas, and grapes can make green smoothies taste sweet and flavourful. Acai and other berries, aside from being super healthy, also mask the overpowering grassy taste of some all-green superfoods like red cabbage and broccoli. Pumpkin spice, cocoa, and beets are also great for making vegan smoothies taste more palatable without adding too much sugar.
Myth #3: Superfood smoothies can help you lose weight
Smoothies can help you form better eating habits. Can they cause weight loss? The short answer is no.
Common smoothie ingredients like berries, nuts, whole grains, and greens can lower your calorie intake. They can make you feel fuller for longer so that you don’t overeat. They are also better snack alternatives than pastries and fast food. At best, these health drinks can help you make disciplined and health-conscious food choices so that you don’t add more calories that you’ll later need to shed. At worst, you could get hooked into a harmful and unstable cycle of crash dieting. This is not what these health drinks are for.
If you really want to lose weight, you need to complement smoothies with a healthy and balanced diet, exercise and physical activities, adequate sleep, and proper stress management.
Myth #4: They can heal chronic diseases like cancer.
There are several case studies and research investigating the effect of certain superfoods like broccoli in preventing certain cancers. So far, none of these studies have produced conclusive evidence that any of the superfoods can cure illnesses.
Green smoothies can, however, contribute to the nutrition and energy you need while managing chronic illnesses like cancer. When you’re on a strict diet to recover or cope with an illness, smoothies can be more convenient and appetizing than big meals with the same nutrient content.
Superfood smoothies can also boost your resistance to illness-causing oxidants. While they will not cure pre-existing conditions, they can provide you with vitamins and minerals needed by the body to fight off stress, viral infections, and malnutrition that could lead to chronic illnesses.
Myth #5: The ORAC Scale shows us which fruits and vegetables are real superfoods.
The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) Scale was developed by the National Institute of Aging (NIA) to measure the antioxidant capacity of foods, including fruits and vegetables.
While the scale has been helpful in ongoing food and nutrition research, ORAC scores have become more useful for marketers as hype material than accurate health information about their products. This was especially problematic because robust antioxidant potential found in ORAC test tube experiments didn’t necessarily translate to the “superpowers” that marketers loved to claim. The scale was taken out of circulation in 2017.
While there are still materials referring to superfood ORAC scores, it’s important to remember that the health benefits of foods like smoothies are based not just on antioxidant potential but their other mineral, vitamin, and fibre content.
A Full Platter Instead of a Silver Bullet
Superfood smoothies are a great addition to a properly-guided health plan. For many people, it’s the best way to achieve the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. For people who have specific health needs, these smoothies can be a necessary part of their recovery diets. They can also train the body to forego unhealthy food choices. The key takeaway is that superfood smoothies are good for your health but they are not magical potions. You need to balance them with other healthy choices if you want real results.
Check your local grocers or your pantry for a superfood you can mix into your smoothie today.