If you are reading this, you probably already know about green smoothies and the many health benefits they provide.
But are there any side effects to drinking a daily green smoothie? Are there certain people who should not drink green smoothies? Do green smoothies have a dark side?
Let’s take a look at three top health questions we get about green smoothies.
Do Green Smoothies Contain Too Much Sugar?
As a blend of sweet fruits and leafy greens, the majority of the calories in green smoothies come from carbohydrates – particularly sweet fruits. Since sweet fruit is high in sugars, is a daily green smoothie or two providing too much sugar in your diet?
Simply put, a green smoothie without added sweeteners (like honey or agave) will not add excess sugar to your diet if you replace existing sweetened “foods” like candy, pastries, white bread, white rice and soda/pop with a healthy fruit smoothie.
A 12-ounce can of soda will have, on average, about 39 grams of sugar. This sugar is in the form of a concentrated sweetener such as high fructose corn syrup (or cane juice in organic, “natural” beverages).
A simple banana and spinach green smoothie using two bananas and two handfuls of spinach contains about 29 grams of sugar. By replacing a 12 ounce can of soda with a banana-spinach green smoothie, you will get 10 grams less sugar than the soda and lots of nutrients and fiber which slows down the release of sugar and counteracts some of the side effects of the sugars.
So by adding green smoothies to your diet, you can actually decrease your sugar intake by drinking green smoothies in place of less healthy options.
In the context of weight loss, there is no need to worry about the fructose content of green smoothies causing weight gain.
You don’t even have to avoid “high glycemic” fruits like bananas and watermelon, either. Read more about Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load.
Will Drinking Green Smoothies Rot Your Teeth?
Sugars that are in the fruits that you blend in a green smoothie do come in contact with your teeth and feed the bacteria in your mouth that promote tooth decay. However, green smoothies are not the only source of sugars and even non- sugary foods like nuts can lead to dental problems.
It is important to good dental hygiene no matter what you eat. Fruit doesn’t rot your teeth, but poor dental hygiene or compromised health and lack of nutrients can lead to dental problems whether you eat “too much” fruit or not.
A major benefit from green smoothies is that you can increase your leafy green intake which will naturally boost the amount of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in your diet – three minerals that help build and maintain strong bones.
Get more tips for keeping your teeth strong and healthy.
Can Eating Too Many Raw Leafy Greens Harm Your Body?
You may have heard warnings about goitrogens in raw cruciferious vegetables (like kale, turnip, collards and cabbage) or about the oxalic acid in spinach.
It is true that all leafy greens contain certain anti-nutrients as a defense against herbivores that prey on the plant’s leaves. In large (meaning excessive) amounts, these phytochemicals can cause health problems. Those with pre-existing health conditions such as impaired thyroid hormone production or susceptibility to forming calcium-oxalate kidney stones might need to approach green smoothies with a little caution.
However, the antinutrients found in edible leafy greens are in sub-toxic doses when consumed in normal-sized portions (like what I have in the recipes on this website). A healthy person with no underlying thyroid disorder would have to eat a TON (maybe three or more whole bunches per day) of raw kale over an extended period of time to cause any adverse health effects.
Oxalic acid in spinach hasn’t been directly linked as a root cause of calcium oxalate kidney stones, and dieticians do not advise avoiding eating spinach due to oxalic acid content.
Adding a few leaves of kale to a green smoothie will provide a wealth of nutrients and health benefits (glucosinolates have powerful anti-cancer properties too) and won’t make you sick.
However, if you do suffer from a pre-existing medical condition (such as hypo/hyperthryoidism), you should consult your doctor or dietician before putting raw kale in green smoothies. Leaf and romaine lettuces might be better options.
Regardless of your health, it is important to rotate your greens frequently to avoid a potential build-up of toxins over time and to give your body a break. Here are some tips for how and when to rotate your greens.
Not every diet “guru” approves of green smoothies, eating fruit, blending or even mixing fruit and greens, but many other health pioneers, experts, nutritionists, health studies and my personal experience as well as the experiences of thousands of my readers shows that green smoothies are remarkable for your health and provide positive results toward cleansing, weight loss, better nutrition and health.
Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.