Okay. So you want to get healthy. Great. Awesome. WONDERFUL. Now, how do you plan to go about it?
Go Vegan! But wait . . . vegan means no meat and no dairy, right? Which means no cheese? Hm . . . That could be a problem. And. . . . Woah! Wait a minute: that means NO ICE CREAM!!! Gasp. Impossible.
Okay, so maybe not vegan. But, what about vegetarian? Seems like a good idea. Good for your body, good for the animals. But are you really ready to completely give up that amazing cheeseburger they make at that cute little hole-in-the-wall restaurant down the street?
Sugar? Maybe it’s time to give up sugar? Oh come on. Life without chocolate? What’s the point?
So what if, just this once, getting healthy wasn’t about giving something up? What if getting healthy could be about adding more of something to your diet? Okay, now we might be onto something. So what could you add to your diet that would make it healthier?
More fruit and veggies of course!
Hello? Did we lose you? Okay, so it’s true—we’ve all heard it before. We need to incorporate more fruit and veggies into our diets. But seriously—how many giant spinach salads can you eat for dinner before you get just plain bored?
One solution? Green smoothies. They’re easy to make and there are nearly endless varieties and options, and let’s not forget that they’re chock-full of tons of nutrients.
So What is a Green Smoothie?
Green smoothies are simply leafy green vegetables, blended into—you guessed it—a smoothie, with fruit, a liquid (like water or almond milk) and maybe some herbs like cilantro or mint.
The benefits of these tasty little treats are many. For one thing, leafy, green veggies contain essential nutrients and phyto-chemicals, which may reduce the risk of cancer and stroke. They’re also rich in fiber, which aids in digestion. These vegetables also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which, as we know, are major factors in heart disease.
Spinach is very high in iron and Kale is a terrific source of calcium. And, of course, fruits and veggies abound with vitamins A, B, C, K and more.
For a detailed list of some of the benefits of specific greens, check out: Leafy Green Vegetables: How Food Affects Health.
Another terrific boon of green smoothies is that, because they’re blended rather than juiced, the ingredients maintain their fiber. Fiber helps fill you up, which means that you can drink a big smoothie for breakfast and not be hungry again for hours. Or, you can have a smaller one before big meals and you’ll feel less inclined to over-indulge.
Additionally, fiber aids in digestion by helping to move food through the digestive tract. It may also be associated with a lower risk of Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Green smoothies are convenient, too. Although maximum nutritional benefit comes from drinking them immediately after juicing, they’ll keep for hours in the fridge and still provide lots of awesomeness. You can take them to work for your 10 am snack—think how much money you’d save if you substituted a smoothie for your morning Starbucks run!—Or to the gym to help keep you energized and hydrated. And there’s no end to the flavor combinations you can come up with.
Feeling like something a little sweet this morning? Try a Collard Greens Smoothie with mango and lime. Mmmm, tasty!
Or maybe you’d rather have something a little lighter and more refreshing? Try a Clean Breeze Smoothie, with cucumber and kiwi. Or experiment and invent your own favorites based on flavor combinations you love or specific nutritional needs you want to meet.
Green smoothies can be a terrific way to make real strides in your health and well-being, without actually having to give anything up. And—who knows—after a few weeks of satisfying smoothies, maybe it won’t be so hard to forego that burger.
Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer, experienced yogi and health enthusiast living in the Los Angeles area. Her writing covers personal wellness and fitness, natural supplements, holistic therapies and much more. What are some of your favorite green smoothies? Share your comments below!