I’m sure that my husband rues the day that I stumbled across the concept of Green Smoothies, since once I was hooked it inevitably led to a joint daily routine with me at the helm experimenting with different shades of that one colour.
I was 3 years beyond my initial cancer diagnosis and treatment when it caught my attention. Of course vegetables have always been touted as a must-have in the average person’s diet, however, they become especially important if health has been compromised in any way.
Green smoothies aren’t new. Many would say they’re a passing fad, along with the cleverly coined concept of superfoods, wheat grass shots and the commercial juicing revolution. The science behind it though points to the fact that consuming liquified vegetables, however unpalatable they may be to some, is an effective and focused way to provide the body with maximum nutritional impact. Like all things associated with health and wellbeing though, there are pros and cons to this assertion in regards to the effect that blending has on the fibre content of vegetables and fruit, as well as the quicker absorption of sugar into the bloodstream through drinking rather than chewing the food in question.
In terms of the first claim, since the blending process includes the whole vegetable or fruit, its fibre is not lost. What blending does is break down the plant cell fibre molecules, thereby making the micronutrients trapped within it more readily available to the body. As for the claim about sugar, smoothies made primarily with fruit will certainly affect the body’s blood sugar level, however, a non starch-based vegetable smoothie with only a modest inclusion of low to medium glycemic level fruit won’t produce the same dramatic insulin-raising effect. It’s all in the choice of ingredients.
To begin with, my base is always cruciferous, usually kale and/or spinach. Chard, bok choy, arugula, lettuce and even cabbage can be used instead. In fact, recently, I read about the need to rotate the greens used in order to avoid over the long term a possible alkaloid or toxic build-up in the body (//simplegreensmoothies.com/rotate-your-greens). Back to my smoothie though, I always add 1-2 stalks of celery, a chunk of cucumber, perhaps half a carrot, half a green apple and a handful of blueberries or a couple of strawberries. I tend to base my smoothies on these ingredients due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, detoxification and immune boosting qualities. I then top this off with different combinations of powders and seeds to add an extra boost of protein, omega fatty acids, healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – cacao, maca, hemp, pea protein isolate, chia seed, linseed, flaxseed, chlorella, spirulina. Lately, I’ve also been adding fresh turmeric root, ginger and mint leaves. My choice of liquid blend is coconut water though I occasionally use almond milk instead. Other occasional additions that I use in different blends include avocado, pear, pineapple or beetroot. Of course when I first started this regime, I had to ease myself (and especially my husband) into it with the inclusion of half a banana for sweetener but 4 years later my smoothies are always predominantly vegetable-based much to my ever indulgent husband’s horror.
My key ingredient in all of this is always the cruciferous vegetable (kale and/or spinach) whose bitter taste, due to the glucosinolates it contains, is in fact its redeeming feature. Through the eating and digestive process, these sulfur-based chemicals break down into particular compounds that have been shown to work directly on different expressions of the cancer process. In 1996, a review of scientific research established a 70% link between eating cruciferous vegetables and protection from cancer (//www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/super-veggies-cruciferous-vegetables#1). What’s more, a 2009 study published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention journal also associated its consumption with “greater likelihood of breast cancer-free survival” (//edition.cnn.com/2013/10/18/health/food-breast-cancer-survivors/).
I’ve been using Green Smoothies on a daily basis for the last 3 years and found them to be very beneficial to my health and wellbeing. It’s my potent morning ritual, a way to start each day with focused plant-based nutrition to nourish, heal, protect and energise my body. Actually, I never thought that I would ever become a liquified vegetable nut, however, I must admit I’m now one of its greatest champions.