I could not believe my eyes when I read that a smoothie or a detox smoothie can only count as one portion towards your 10 a day, however many you have in the day.
Yes, in case you have not heard, researchers have now said that we need not 5, not 7 – 9 but 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day to prevent disease. It just seems we keep needing more and more.
Researchers from Imperial College London did a meta analysis of 95 studies concerning fruit and vegetable intake to work out exactly what a person would need to eat to gain the maximum protection against heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death.
Dr Dagfinn Aune, the lead author, stated “Our results suggest that although five portions of fruit and vegetables is good, 10 a day is even better”.
The kind of amounts they are talking about is about 800g (28oz approx) of fruit and vegetables which works out to 10 x 80g (2.8oz) portions a day.
Related reading: The Fresh Fruit Detox- So Easy & Delicious
How many portions does a detox smoothie count for?
What I don’t get is the reports I’ve seen that are saying that you cannot count a smoothie as more than one portion however many you drink.
That sounds like nonsense to me as many nutritionists, including myself, have been saying for years that a good way to get more fruit and veg into your diet is to make them into smoothies. I, of course, in case you haven’t noticed, am a big fan of green smoothies or detox smoothies.
So, I set out to investigate where this idea came from.
It turns out that it is something that the UK Department of Health put in their guidelines for getting your 5 a day. At one time they were saying that a smoothie can only count as two portions however much of it you drink but now they are apparently saying a 150 ml smoothie only counts as one portion a day.
Does blending reduce or destroy fiber?
The reason for this according to a Department of Health spokesperson is because “processing reduces the amount of fibre and increases the amount of sugar in the final product which can damage your teeth”.
The whole point of making smoothies instead of juices is that you use the whole fruit and the whole veg so you preserve the fiber, so how can it be reduced?
It’s true that the fiber gets broken down to fine particles when you blend fruit and vegetables or green leaves but it’s still there. It has not been reduced. It’s certainly not destroyed as I read one UK TV doctor said.
Related reading: Is Blending Fruit & Vegetables Better Than Juicing For Detox?
Here’s the proof:
Ed Blonz, Ph.D., a nutrition scientist and an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco says this “The machine will most certainly reduce the size of fiber particles, but the fiber is still there. It is the unique way that the fiber molecules are bound together that’s the key.
Fiber is unique in that the human body doesn’t have any enzymes to break it apart.The blender does indeed cut and shred, but there is no basis to fear that this process breaks down the molecular bonds that form the essence of the fiber.”
Besides that, according to a paper that appeared in “Gut,” a peer-reviewed journal for health professionals and researchers, scientists compared bran particles of 2 mm to less than 0.7 mm. This study found that both fine and coarse fiber have only 2% difference in performance, favoring the smaller fiber.
So, I don’t think we have to worry at all about blending destroying the fiber in your detox smoothies.
Do smoothies damage your teeth?
A lot of ready made smoothies are full of sugar which could damage your teeth.
James Goolnik, a UK dentist, says “Some of these smoothies not only stain your teeth but actually permanently damage them. This is due to the natural sugars in fruit and vegetable that can lead to tooth decay or erosion. The ascorbic acid in the vitamin C can cause the enamel to erode, making our teeth doubly vulnerable to staining. Vibrant-coloured fruits like blackberries and blueberries cause your teeth to discolour.”
But he goes on to give tips for drinking smoothies:
1. Enjoy your smoothie immediately, and then rinse your mouth afterwards. Just take a few sips of water to dilute the teeth-staining foods. Freshly made juices are alkalising.
2. Make “green” smoothies. These have at least double, preferably triple, greens to
fruit ratio to keep the sugar content of your drink low.
3. Drink your smoothie through a straw to help minimize contact with your teeth.
4. Eliminate or reduce the acid – avoid using citrus fruit in your smoothie.
5. Try to wait half an hour if brushing after your smoothie because your tooth enamel is more vulnerable just after eating and drinking.
That’s good advice. I’ve been drinking green smoothies daily for the past 12 years and my teeth are perfectly fine. I don’t drink them through a straw but I don’t brush my teeth immediately after drinking them.
Related reading: Are Smoothies Bad For You?
So having got those reasons out of the way what other reason could there be for only counting your detox smoothie as one portion?
You need a variety of fruit and vegetables!
I think this has to do with the fact that our 10 a day should be made up of a variety of different fruit and vegetables so we get a full complement of nutrients and phytochemicals.
Related reading: Detox Diet – Eat A Rainbow For Optimum Health
It’s the phytochemicals, compounds in plants such as isoflavones, carotenoids, anthocyanins and flavonoids that reduce the oxidative damage to our cells that causes various diseases like cancer.
We said earlier that a portion is about 80 grams but you could not have 400 grams of one type of veg and 400 grams of another and say you had your 10 portions. No, the 10 portions have to be made up of different fruit, veg and green leaves.
What is a portion?
1 small banana
2 handfuls of blueberries
3 dried apricots
1 tbsp raisins
half an avocado
3 -4 broccoli spears
8 small cauliflower florets
4 heaped tablespoons of cooked kale, spinach, spring greens or green beans
3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables, such as carrots, peas or sweetcorn 3 sticks of celery
5cm ( 2 inch) piece of cucumber,
1 medium tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes
A two portion smoothie
For a smoothie to qualify as being two portions, it should contain 80g of a whole fruit, veg and at least 80g of a different type of whole fruit or veg or 2 heaped cups of green leaves.
My basic morning green smoothie makes just over 350 ml. It usually contains one piece of fruit such as a peach or pear, a handful of blueberries with a 2″chunk of cucumber and at least 2 cups of mixed green leaves. I count this as 2 of my 10 a day.
The researchers found that apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, may help protect against heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death.
Cruciferous veg boosts liver detox
All of these fruit and veg are ones used on a good detox diet! Cruciferous veg are the ones that contain substances that induce glutathione conjugation in the liver’s phase II detox enzyme system.
Glutathione conjugation is a main liver detox route for making toxic chemicals water soluable so they can be excreted by the kidneys in the urine.
Related reading: How A Liver Detox Diet Can Restore Your Health
So if it helps you to get your 10 a day then I think it’s fine to keep drinking your detox smoothies. Just remember to make them from a variety of fruit and vegetables or green leaves so you get a wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants to help protect you against disease.