“I have a 16 ounce smoothie every day which contains all frozen fruit such as strawberry, blackberry, fresh banana, spinach, flax seed, etc. My question is, aren’t smoothies eventually converted to sugar and are you increasing risk of diabetes?” – Loan
Great question, Loan, and it’s one we get on occasion.
Basically, your cells require glucose (a type of sugar) for fuel. Whether you eat fruit, or no fruit at all, your cells must have glucose in order to function. Even if you ate no fruit at all and went on the strictest of low-carb diets, your body will still convert fat or protein into glucose to feed your cells.
So it isn’t a bad thing at all that you get dietary glucose from fruit. There is nothing wrong with dietary glucose. Sugar isn’t the problem, it’s excess sugar.
It is hard to get excess sugar from fruit. Fruit isn’t in the same league as table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, agave syrup or candy. Fruit contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that counter-balance the potential harmful effects of the natural sugars in fruit such as glucose and fructose. The fiber in fruit slows down the release of sugars, reducing the speed at which fruit may raise your blood sugar.
Keep in mind that all fruit is low glycemic. Instead of using the Glycemic Index, which measures how fast a particular food raises blood sugar, refer instead to Glycemic Load, which measures the glycemic effect of a food in relation to it’s serving size. The Glycemic Load for fruits like bananas and watermelon are under 10, which is considered low. Read more about the difference between Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load.
Since you only drink about 16 ounces of smoothie per day, that’s a pretty small amount and certainly nothing to worry about unless you already have a metabolic disease, in which case you would need to discuss it with your doctor.
There are no clinical medical studies that I am aware of that provide a conclusive link between fruit consumption (or high-fruit diets) and diabetes, obesity or other metabolic disease.
In my own situation, I have been drinking at least 32-40 ounces of green smoothie every single day for almost four years now. I average about 6-9 bananas per day and I get a significant portion of my calories every day from fruit (on average, about 1500-2000 calories, per day, which is about 60-80% of my total caloric intake). I have not experienced any of the negative health effects of excess sugar in my diet. (I keep my daily fat intake low because I feel it is important to do so when eating a high-carb diet.)
My recent blood tests earlier this month showed normal fasting glucose and normal triglycerides (nowhere close to the high-end of the range). I have not gotten fat. In fact, I lost 40 pounds from drinking meal-replacement green smoothies and eating a fruit-based, mostly raw vegan diet. I have followed others who have eaten extensive amounts of fruit and frequent blood sugar tests before and after meals yielded rock-solid, stable blood sugar levels within healthy ranges.
I hope this clarifies this issue for you, and truly, I don’t think you have anything to worry about if you’re only drinking a 16 ounce smoothie per day. That’s at most, maybe 20 grams of natural sugar (not enough to even begin to worry about) balanced with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Do you have a question about green smoothies, health or nutrition? Let us know what’s on your mind by submitting questions to us using our Contact Page.
Tracy Russell is the creator of the Green Smoothie Health & Weight Loss Program and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She is passionate about helping people improve their health with green smoothies and a whole foods lifestyle.
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