Smoothies are often a balance between being a great way to supplement your diet and a tasty treat that might not be leaning as much on the healthy side. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can add up to make a big difference in how beneficial or detrimental your smoothie is to your health. Seemingly harmless ingredients like bananas, fruit juice, or milk can add loads of sugar and quickly turn your smoothie upside down. So what makes bananas such a popular smoothie ingredient, and are they something you should possibly avoid?
Bananas are the go-to fruit to help make smoothies creamier and thicker. A lot of people enjoy them for their taste as well as their perceived health benefits. One of their best uses is to help recover from a tough workout or intense cardio session as the potassium and magnesium aids with muscle cramps. Besides that though, bananas are high in fiber and Vitamin B6. Despite this though, the positive effects that bananas bring with them are offset by their one major downfall: the amount of sugar they have
Sugar Content in Bananas and Why it is Bad for Your Smoothies
Most people are surprised when they hear that bananas have one of the highest sugar contents of all fruit. The average amount of sugar in one ripe banana is around 14g. Even by itself, this is still a decent amount of sugar to consume. However, when you combine it with everything else in your blender, it’s possible to turn your healthy refueling smoothie into a massive sugary drink. Other ingredients often have small amounts of sugar, such as the type of liquid you use, various kinds of nut butter, fruit, yogurt, and so forth. While these come in minimal amounts depending on exactly what you use, trying to keep your smoothie low sugar can be a difficult task if you have bananas in there as well.
Despite the antioxidants and other upsides to bananas, the sugar they come with will create an insulin spike in your body to keep your blood sugar levels stable. The fructose in the banana is fully metabolized in your liver and quickly turned into fat. Bananas rank highly on the glycemic index as well, which measures how high a person’s blood sugar rises in the two hours after eating a particular food.
Many of the upsides of bananas, such as a creamy taste, thickening your smoothie, fiber, and potassium, can easily be replaced by other foods. This will allow you to continue to enjoy your smoothies while making a real difference in your daily diet and fitness goals.
The Best Banana Replacement For Your Smoothie: Go Frozen
By going frozen, you open up a wide variety of options that keep your smoothies creamy, thick, and healthy. Since we’re removing a fruit from your smoothie, let’s add one (or some) with frozen berries. Frozen berries function similar to bananas through the richness they add to your smoothie – but they are also higher in fiber and lower in sugar. A small handful of mixed berries can be the perfect go-to replacement. Blackberries score lowest on the glycemic index out of these fruits, followed by raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Now that we’ve replaced bananas with other fruit, how do we retain the creamy, thick taste that the banana gave?
One simple method is to use frozen almond milk cubes. Simply freeze your unsweetened almond milk in ice cube trays overnight and add a couple to your next smoothie. It will create the same thick consistency that you had before removing bananas. While you’re at it, consider freezing cucumbers and avocado as well. Cucumbers are rich in potassium (something we’ve not yet made up for since removing the banana), and they’re also high in Vitamin C. Meanwhile, frozen avocados are full of healthy fat, which can be hard to come by in a lot of smoothies.
Tying it All Together: A Healthy Recipe for Your Next Smoothie
Since removing bananas from our smoothies, we’ve added frozen almond milk cubes, frozen mixed berries, and frozen avocado. This helps maintain a thick consistency while giving the same benefits of bananas without the downside of sugar. What should your recipe look like with these new ingredients? Consider this:
– 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (ice cubes or liquid)
– 1 scoop of protein powder
– 1 small handful of frozen mixed berries (such as strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
– 2 cups of leafy greens like kale, spinach, or arugula
– 1 spoonful of your preferred nut butter, such as almond butter
– 1 slice of a frozen avocado
– 1 teaspoon of your preferred sweetener such as cinnamon or cocoa powder
If you regularly incorporate smoothies into your diet, even a small change like cutting out the bananas will build up to have a long-term, positive impact on your overall health. Fewer sources of sugar in your diet will mean you will be able to move faster towards your fitness goals, such as weight loss or having more sustained energy throughout the day.