Drinking Greens: The new way to up your veggie intake

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Photo by: Michaela Contois. Smoothie made with one banana, a handful of berries, two scoops of protein powder, almond milk, three stalks of kale and two handfuls of spinach.

The easiest way to integrate more vegetables into a diet is to form the habit of substituting coffee or breakfast for a green smoothie said Aoife Lee, a model with Maggie Inc. and student from Boston. At least once a month she’s called onto set before 7 a.m. and brings a smoothie for “natural energy,” Lee said.

The easiest way to integrate more vegetables into a diet is to form the habit of substituting coffee or breakfast for a green smoothie said model with Maggie Inc. and Boston student, Aoife Lee. At least once a month she’s called onto set before 7 a.m. and brings a smoothie for “natural energy,” said Lee.

Drinking greens has become a mainstream trend. People walk around sipping on green drinks, commercials are filled with new blenders and juicers and smoothie shops and juice bars are popping up in cities across the U.S. Earlier this year, even Starbucks introduced a “Sweet Greens Smoothie,” as an alternative to their popular coffee.

“I think people are loving this trend because it is a healthful one,” Lee said, “Choosing a green smoothie over a bag of chips makes you feel good mentally and physically.”

Lee said that she has at least two green smoothies a week. “I love making smoothies at school with my Magic Bullet Blender. The ingredients I use vary on my mood. Typically, kale will be included,” Lee said.

An employee at Boloco, Maritza, said that Boloco’s green smoothie was introduced in February. She said that the green smoothie, the Tropi-Kale, is just as popular as the Strawbana, Berry Blitz and Mango Passion Smoothies. The Tropi-Kale smoothie consists of kale, mango, cucumbers, celery, apple juice and honey. “It’s as popular mostly because it’s healthy. When you think about healthy, you think of tropi-kale,” said Maritza.

James Keravich, an exercise physiologist at Team Fitness in North Hampton, New Hampshire, said that people use the excuse of time to miss out on fruits and veggies, so time gave birth to smoothies. “You put greens into smoothies because you might not sit down and eat three cups of kale,” he said.

Liz Laverty, a physician’s assistant at Pentucket Medical, said “green smoothies should be nutrient dense, meaning it should be packed full of nutrients while avoiding over processed additives. A wide variety of fruits, veggies and protein source are a great way to ensure nutrient density.”

Lee said that when she does not make her smoothies, she will buy from Whole Foods or the Pure Cold Press in Brookline. “My favorite from Pure Cold Press is the ‘Namaste,’ which is a delicious combination of kale, pineapple, pear and mint,” said Lee.

However, there can be a downside to the green smoothie trend. Commercially, companies advertise more than they generally offer. “If you go somewhere, like Panera, they make sure the smoothie is green in color and fool everyone that they’re getting this great stuff, but the smoothie is high in sugar and low in nutrients,” said Keravich. Oftentimes, companies use a high sugar concentrated juice, like apple juice as a filler, he said.

Keravich suggests the best way to jump on the green smoothie bandwagon is to go out and buy a blender, which will be more time and cost efficient. “Using real foods to make smoothies is the best way to go,” he said. Laverty adds that it is always best to make your own smoothies as it helps to avoid unnecessary added sugar, and you can ensure natural ingredients.

Not everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. Taco Lee, a sophomore at Northeastern University, said “I like spinach and I like to have veggies on my plate, but I don’t want to drink them.”

A controversial debate is whether or not a green smoothie counts as a meal. According to Laverty, “if a smoothie can be nutrient dense while providing proper portions of fat, carbs and protein it certainly can be a meal.”

Keravich dug deeper. When asked if a green smoothie can be a meal, he said yes and no. “Smoothie is a term that is ambiguous now. A smoothie can have anything in it,” Keravich said. “Ideally, a smoothie is a meal replacement. If it’s a meal replacement, it has representation from healthy carbs, protein and fat.” He said that for the average man or the average woman, a smoothie should consist of 25-30 g of protein, 40 g of carbs, the greens and 12g of fat. With the combination of all three, healthy protein, carbs and fat, said Keravich, then a smoothie becomes a meal.”

There are vital nutrients in fruits and vegetables. Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet. “Most people do not get the recommended fruits and veggies daily, while a smoothie can easily have three servings of fruits and veggies,” said Laverty.