Why smoothies are good for you

With celebs proclaiming it as the secret of their glowing skin, the smoothie is now inching its way into people’s lives and homes. They are fresh, easy to make, and great for those who want to lose weight. You just need to acquire a taste for them!

brunch Updated: Jun 22, 2013 16:30 IST
Parul Khanna
Parul Khanna
Hindustan Times
Smoothies,HT Brunch,Kate Middleton

As incredible as it may sound, the drink that you see celebrities such as Kate Middleton, wife of the UK’s Prince William and chef Jamie Oliver holding in paparazzi shots is a smoothie, the current ‘it’ food/drink the world is obsessing over.

With celebs proclaiming it as the secret of their glowing skin, the smoothie is now inching its way into people’s lives and homes. Books, food blogs and TV shows that describe ways to make a smoothie are the new rage. But the drink is nothing fancy. It’s simply a liquid blend of fruits or veggies, or both.

A royal treat: Kate Middleton sips at a smoothie, high on taste and nutrition

The Obsession

In 2012, the worldwide smoothie market was worth £134m, reported The Independent, UK. Britons drank 34 million litres of smoothies in 2006, compared to 6.3 million litres in 2001. By 2011, believes market research firm Mintel, the world will drink almost 100 million litres. Phew! Some numbers there. No wonder then that Coca-Cola, realising the drink’s potential, took complete control over Innocent, a

UK-based smoothie chain launched by three Cambridge friends in February 2013.

It’s not really the first time smoothies have captured the world’s attention. The drink first came into being in the 1920s, with the advent of blenders. Since then, smoothies have been in and out of favour, finally to inch their way back into people’s lives.

Why now?

Well, Arindam Basu, a manager with the Kempinski Ambience Hotel, Delhi, says people are beginning to see through processed food. “The West is seeing its pitfalls. And they are looking for something or someone to rescue them. That’s why smoothies have been enjoying a resurgence.”

Around the world, doppelgangers of smoothies already exist in a lot of cultures. There are the cold vegetable soups like the Spanish gazpacho and our very own lassi. And that’s why, say food experts, Indians will take to this trend.

With fitness, nutrition and health becoming a top priority in people’s lives, smoothies are becoming the saviour of those who crave nutrition, but hate eating fruits or vegetables (and there are many people like that!), those whose want to give their kids a more balanced diet, and those who want to lose weight by cutting out a regular meal (in favour of a smoothie).

Easy does it

Smoothies are so simple to make even a kitchen virgin can put one together. Blending a smoothie is an addictive process: just stick to a few rules, get together what you can and make sure it pleases your palate. You can team ginger with mango, cucumber with melon and look for other interesting, yet edible permutations and combinations of things you think you can drink.

"People don’t have time, and the ‘great food movement’ that encourages them to cook and try out recipes from across the globe is more of a weekend activity," says Arindam Basu. "No one is expected to put together elaborate meals every day. That’s the space smoothies are filling."

https://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/6/juice.jpgDecoding the concoction

Contrary to popular perception, not all smoothies are yoghurt-based. They can even be composed of raw vegetables and fruits blended in with a variety of natural additives to enhance their taste, says food blogger, diet and nutrition consultant Sangeeta Khanna.

One of the big reasons for the popularity of smoothies is their versatility. A smoothie with a high calorie count will give a child most of the nutrients he/she needs daily. People who work out will find that a smoothie gives them the necessary energy, and those into strength training will find it fulfills their protein requirement. A sweet smoothie can be drunk as a dessert, and another recipe can give you your daily dose of veggies.

One of the more popular ways smoothies are being consumed is as replacements for meals. "Full of nutrients, smoothies have become a great way for people to keep their weight in check along with fulfiling nutritional requirements. They feel full and not starved and also ingest food that titillates the taste buds," explains Suman Agarwal, a Mumbai-based nutritionist.

According to Khanna, to replace breakfast, a smoothie should be filling and contain proteins and complex carbohydrates. She recommends blending in bananas, half a cup of oats (to make the mixture creamy) and soaked almonds along with a cup of milk or yoghurt. A lunch smoothie should again be filling (Khanna recommends coconut milk) and its ingredients should have proteins and be rich in fibre. So, you could blend in mangoes, herbs (basil, rosemary etc.), water or coconut milk and musk melon, or for a savoury version, blend together raw mango, coconut milk, salt and pepper.

To replace dinner, a smoothie should be high on proteins and low on carbs. So, avoid bananas and mangoes, but make sure the smoothie is filling or one might end up bingeing. Choose ingredients that are high in soluble fibres (pears and citrus fruits). These bulk up the gut, giving a feeling of being full and have negative calorie counts. Churn together sprouts, a little peanut butter, cucumber, coconut milk, salt, Tabasco and pepper. "Take care not to include too much insoluble fibre (nuts, flaxseeds) in this meal. It causes flatulence," says Khanna.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/6/tomatoes.jpgOf course, like all movements or as some may call them, fads, critics have put together some innovative reasons to diss smoothies, too. They say too many smoothies can harm you. And food expert Bharti Sanghi acknowledges there might be some truth in this assumption. "Replace only one meal with a smoothie or have it as a mid-day snack," she says. "You cannot sit and measure what fruits and veggies have soluble fibres and which have insoluble ones," adds Sanghi.

So, if you are having a number of glasses, make sure you keep the amount of fruits and veggies the same, but bulk the smoothie up with more milk, water or yoghurt. Also, one needs to acquire a taste for it, especially vegetable smoothies, points out Arindam Basu.Reality check

On a realistic note, how bad can churned fruits and vegetables be? The health benefits are assured. The more important part is to make a good smoothie – read up food blogs and get recipes. International health blogs have people raving that a regular dose of smoothies causes their skins to glow, something the cosmetic industry has been promising them for years. "It’s true. Those drinking it even for a month are able to sustain a glowing skin for six months," says Bharti Sanghi. "One, you are ingesting ‘good food’, something your moms have been trying to get you to eat since you were a child, and in better quantities. There are only so many carrots you can chew, but you can drink many more. Plus, it’s brilliant for the digestive system. You will be going to the restroom many more times, but that’s an indicator of good metabolism."

Arindam Basu adds, "What’s not to like in a smoothie? It’s a win-win situation. The water from the ingredients hydrates you. The yoghurt aids intestinal digestion and helps absorb proteins. It’s great for metabolism, gives you an energy boost and is a complete food, without bad fats or cholesterol or empty calories. It’s a wonder drug for those who want to lose weight and look great."

Quick Recipes

Fruit smoothie

60ml orange juice

60ml pineapple juice

1 mango, sliced

90ml non-fat yoghurt

6 basil leaves

Blend into a fine, smooth consistency. If required, add some ice and pour it into a tall glass.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/6/banana.jpgBanana-almond-flaxseed cocoa smoothie with milk

One large banana

1 heaped tbsp flaxseeds

10-12 almonds, soaked

2 tsp good quality organic cocoa powder

A cup of full fat milk, or more as required

Liquidise everything together in a food processor or mixie to make a smooth drink.

Using chilled milk and a frozen banana gives you a creamier, chilled


Spartan Strawberry

120ml soy milk

30ml maple syrup

90ml non-fat yoghurt

6 fresh strawberries

Blend into a fine, smooth consistency. If required, add some ice and pour it into a tall glass.

Cucumber-herbs-mixed nuts and seed savoury smoothie with yoghurt

One cucumber, chopped roughly

1/2 cup coriander greens, chopped

2 tsp sunflower seeds

2 tsp pumpkin seeds

4-5 walnut halves

Add a tbsp of onion and green chilli. Use any herbs like celery, parsley, mint or basil, depending on what you get fresh and what you feel like having according to your constitution.

Drink this smoothie fresh. However, it does keep well in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Beetroot & Berry Smoothie

1cup whole blueberries

½cup whole raspberries

1/3cup beetroot, cooked and sliced

¼cup low-fat yoghurt

¼ cup fresh orange juice

1 tsp honey

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.

Honeydew Melon & Baby Spinach Smoothie
1cup baby spinach, washed thoroughly
1½ cup honeydew melon
1/3 cup low-fat yoghurt

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.

From HT Brunch, June 23
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First Published: Jun 21, 2013 19:19 IST