The popularity of green juices and smoothies have been increasing over the years, especially when health magazines or ‘experts’ have been expounding the virtues of drinking your veggies rather than chewing them. It kinda makes sense, considering that we often eat less vegetables than we’re supposed to and drinking green juices or smoothies is a good way of ensuring your 1 out of 5 per day while also filling you up until your next meal.
However, just like any health trend, there are some controversy over drinking green juices and smoothies – mainly that consuming that much vegetables on a regular basis contributes too much oxalate into the body, which will cause health problems such as kidney stones later in life. This is especially harmful to the 20% of people who are oxalate sensitive or already naturally produce oxalate, as they will have a higher tendency to have oxalate stones forming in any part of the body.
Moreover, most of these green juices and smoothies contain cruciferous vegetables, which may not be suitable for those with thyroid problems. Others also say that by blending the vegetables into a juice or smoothie, you’re actually destroying up to 90% of the nutrients, which defeats the purpose of drinking said juice or smoothie.
So what’s the truth? Firstly, there isn’t much evidence to prove that 90% of nutrients will be gone after blending. Although it is true that you cannot get 100% of the vegetable’s nutrients unless you get it off the farm and consume it without cutting it.
Cardiologist, Dr Joel Kahn, wrote an article about this and he discussed the science behind why green juices or smoothies or even eating more vegetables is good for your health. The inorganic nitrates within the vegetables promote heart health and when we swallow these nitrate-rich veggies, they’re rapid absorbed and released into our blood stream, and converted into nitric oxide (NO) by enzymes.
According to Dr Kahn, this NO gas is made in the lining of our arteries (endothelium). When our arteries produce a lot of NO, our arteries relax, our blood pressure is normal, our blood is less likely to clot and our arteries resist making plaque. There’s another reason to be grateful for NO. When we want to have sex, it’s NO that causes blood vessels to dilate and engorge the parts that need to grow. In other words: When you want to say yes to sex, say NO.
So when we eat leafy greens and drink our green juices and smoothies, the dietary nitrates power our blood vessels and improve the overall quality of our lives.
There is an argument that in order to get the benefits of the nitrates, our food needs to come in contact with bacteria on our tongue that convert the nitrates to make NO in our arteries. If you quickly gulp your green juices or smoothies past your tongue, you may not permit time for the bacteria to munch on the dietary nitrates.
But, according to Dr Kahn, there is another pathway for the dietary nitrates to be fully absorbed and NO to be produced. When our blood level of nitrates rise after eating or drinking plant-based nitrate-rich foods, the nitrates enter our salivary gland and are concentrated in our saliva. Our saliva may have nitrate concentrations 10 times that of our blood and the green drink we swallowed 45 minutes ago may be secreted right on to our tongue to enjoy the bacteria-nitrate interaction. So if the bacteria doesn’t get your dietary nitrates the first time down, this “entero-salivary” recirculation makes sure they get them the second time around.
Conclusion? Go ahead and enjoy your green juice or smoothie but lay off on the fruits which add sugar. Here are a couple of our favourite green smoothie recipes, both of which are great as breakfast smoothies:
1 tbsp Chlorophyll powder
1 cup chilled green tea
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 cup fresh baby kale
juice of half a lemon
half an apple or a banana
half an avocado
Blend everything in a food processor until smooth
Ready For the Day
1 cup osmanthus tea
1 cup fresh baby kale
1 cup cucumber
1 cup of bak choy
1 tsp of grated ginger
1/2 cup of your favourite kombucha
Blend everything in a food processor until smooth.
Photo credits: Pixabay
With references from MindBodyGreen