What’s up with the green smoothie?

There was no small amount of shock at my last column. My father-in-law said to me last Sunday dinner, “Did you really have two Diet Cokes, an Egg McMuffin, and a candy bar for breakfast?”

I have to admit that my confession sparked a renewed interest in healthy eating.

Everywhere I look, the green smoothie has overtaken breakfast. My friends are blending for their kids. Our CEO is drinking one during morning meetings. People on the street are walking around with them.

So, while I initially balked at the thought of spinach for breakfast, I’m sipping a blend this morning and asking myself, “What’s up with the green smoothie?”

1. To eat or not to eat.

When it is a matter of eating the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many people have found success in drinking those nutrients versus not getting any nutrition at all.

For example, a standard 24-ounce green juice may contain as many as three apples, three bunches of kale, a cucumber, a whole lemon and a bunch of carrots. Most people wouldn’t consume that amount of produce in one sitting, but they could drink it while on the go and still enjoy the nutritional benefits.

2. Remember the fiber.

How you prepare your juice drink can make a big difference in the amount of fiber you consume and the nutritional value of your juice drink. Those who use a blender to prepare their juice drink are more likely to retain some of the fiber that is often lost when using a juicer machine. Yet both remove a large amount of dietary fiber from the fruits and vegetables.

Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet and shouldn’t be overlooked when preparing juices. Dietary fiber helps regulate digestive functions, helps to lower cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss. The only effective way to incorporate healthy amounts of dietary fiber into your diet is through eating the whole fruit or vegetable.

3. Know what you’re eating.

The quality of the output depends on the quality going in. Yes, a juice drink provides a large amount of produce in one serving, but that drink may also contain things you didn’t expect.

For those wanting to control diabetes or high cholesterol levels, juicing has been a popular option. But many nutritionists advocate moderation in juicing as a defense against the hidden carbohydrates and sugars in most fruits and vegetables.

4. Remember to chew your food

For many seeking a kick-start for weight loss, juice cleanses offer a seductive appeal. They are popular, easily accessible, trendy, don’t require exercise and promote quick weight loss. But this notion of drinking your caloric intake on a daily basis has many dietitians and nutritionists concerned.

In a June 2014 U.S. News & World Report article, “Juice Cleanses: Health Hocus Pocus,” Lauren Blake, a registered dietitian with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, expressed her concerns.

“While cleanses might appear to work in the short term, they are not a long-term solution for weight loss and can be dangerous.”

“There’s not a lot of scientific evidence showing that cleanses work,” she says. “When you’re restricting your calories so heavily, you’re going to lose weight, but people who follow these cleanses tend to put the weight right back on and leave themselves at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.”

If you can’t recall the last time you chewed your food, chances are you are engaged in an unhealthy weight loss strategy, which most nutritionists agree is neither safe nor effective.

It seems the green juice phenomenon is here to stay, which is a good thing in moderation. By maintaining a balance of whole foods with healthy juicing choices, along with an active lifestyle, you can enjoy the tasty benefits of juicing while optimizing good health.

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