As the weather gets warmer (at least here in Houston), I find myself craving smoothies more and more. It’s a refreshing breakfast to fuel me for the day or even a filling snack after work that keeps me from digging through the pantry. I have loved playing with my Nutri Ninja machine to experiment with different ingredients at home. As we talked about previously, there is a large benefit in the nutritional make up of smoothies if you make it at home versus purchasing at places like Smoothie King or Jamba Juice. You are able to control the ingredients, specifically the added sugar content.
Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a small berry rich in antioxidants, fiber and heart healthy fats. It is produced from the Acai palm tree which are primarily found in central and south America.
Acai originally gained popularity as a superfood with claims that it also promotes weight loss. Supplements including pills and powders were marketed throughout the country, though there are still no proven benefits to these claims (source). Acai berries are rich in antioxidants, with some studies showing they contain more antioxidants the cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries (source). Though acai berries are rich in antioxidants, this is not to say there are not other, more commonly consumed foods, that are higher in antioxidants including concord grapes and pomegranates (source). Regardless of whether acai berries have the highest antioxidant content or not, they have a wonderful flavor and provide an alternative to the more commonly consumed berries.
As the temperatures continue to climb here in Texas, I find myself looking for cool, refreshing meals and snacks in place of warm ones. We previously talked about how much sugar can be in store bought smoothies. Homemade smoothies are usually a healthier and cheaper way to get your daily dose of nutrients. The possibilities are endless when it comes to what to put in your smoothies, but I usually try to make sure my smoothies are balanced with protein, carbohydrate and fiber to keep me feeling full and satisfied.
Juicing and smoothies seem to be some of the most popular drinks these days. Especially for those who find it difficult to eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables in a day, these drinks can be an easy way to get a wide range of nutrients a body needs. Unlike a juice, one benefit to a smoothie is the fact that the fiber from the fruit and vegetable remains in the drink. Fiber is needed for many reasons, and the benefit of having it in a drink is to slow down the release of sugar into bloodstream; you feel fuller for longer. [Read more…]