For the most part, everyone agrees on the importance of fruits and veggies for good health. However, how to consume them is where things sometimes get murky. So, in this article we’re going to look at two very popular healthy eating options: green smoothie vs salad.
By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll have an understanding of:
- the main benefits of green smoothies and salads.
- their side effects.
- who they’re suitable for (and who should consider avoiding them).
Let’s get to it!
GREEN SMOOTHIE VS. SALAD: MAIN BENEFITS AND DIFFERENCES (FOR WEIGHT LOSS, ENERGY AND MORE)
|Easier on digestive system||✓|
|Supports weight loss||✓||✓|
|Supports gut health||✓||✓|
|Supports liver and hormones||✓||✓|
|May trigger blood sugar spike||✓|
KEY BENEFITS OF GREEN SMOOTHIES
- Easy on the digestive system: the process of blending veggies breaks them down so that your digestive system doesn’t have to work very hard. This makes green smoothies beneficial for anyone with digestive issues. In fact, I noticed this with a client who said that she always had regular bowel movements when she drank a spinach-containing smoothie, compared to when she ate whole greens.
- Helps with weight loss: the soluble fiber in green smoothies helps the body maintain healthy blood sugar levels. And when blood sugar is more stable, insulin and stress hormones – like cortisol – are also more stable. Given that insulin and cortisol both determine how easily we gain weight, it’s no surprise that some people lose weight with green smoothies in their diet (1, 2).
- Natural energy booster: when we’re low on energy, it’s often because our body needs more nutrients. Drinking a healthy green smoothie in the morning can be a really good way of feeling more revitalized without relying on stimulants.
- Supports gut health: the soluble fiber from fruits and veggies act as prebiotics for the gut. These prebiotics are the raw material that your gut feeds on to produce probiotics (aka good bacteria).
- Makes it easy to consume more veggies: eating more veggies is a struggle for most of us, especially if you don’t have time to cook and/or you simply hate the taste of veggies. Adding green smoothies to your diet is one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase veggie consumption, without having to do lots of prep work. And it tastes pretty good too 🙂
- Supports the liver and hormones: the liver makes some hormones and is also responsible for filtering out hormone-disrupting toxins from our blood. And in order to function properly the liver needs lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants…all of which are abundant in green smoothies.
KEY BENEFITS OF EATING SALADS
Salads have many of the same benefits as green smoothies (so I won’t repeat them here). However, here are a couple of additional benefits that are unique to salads.
- Provides more flexibility and versatility: you can make a salad as light or as filling as you want simply by adding in things like fish, chicken, turkey, beans, eggs, quinoa, buckwheat and more. This makes it much easier to turn a basic veggie salad into a more balanced and satisfying meal.
- Less likely to cause a blood sugar spike: since salads contain foods in their whole form, the body has to actually work to break them down. This results in slower absorption (due to the fiber being whole, instead of blended). This slower absorption also means you’re less likely to experience a blood sugar spike (which may happen with smoothies).
GREEN SMOOTHIES AND SALADS: DISADVANTAGES AND SIDE EFFECTS (FOR KIDNEYS, THYROID AND MORE)
- May affect thyroid function: cruciferous veggies – such as kale – contain goitrogens, which can affect the thyroid’s ability to take in iodine (which it needs for proper function). So, over-consumption of smoothies that contain these veggies may contribute to thyroid problems (particularly in particularly with pre-existing thyroid hormone imbalance).
- May contribute to kidney stones: leafy greens contain oxalates, which are compounds that may promote kidney stones when consumed in high amounts.
- May cause bloating and other digestive issues: from the perspective of Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) regular consumption of raw foods is not for everyone. This is because raw food dampens agni (our digestive fire), thus making a sensitive or weak digestive system even more sensitive. This is probably why some people end up experiencing gas or bloating when consuming a lot of raw foods.
- Green smoothies could slow down your weight loss progress: if your smoothies contain processed sugar, pasteurized fruit juices (mostly sugar, few nutrients), conventional milk (may have trace amounts of hormones or antibiotics), you may feel worse when drinking green smoothies. This is because all those ingredients can contribute inflammation, increase chemical stress and hinder weight loss (as well as other health goals).
HEALTHY GREEN SMOOTHIES OR SALADS: RELATED QUESTIONS
What is the best time to drink green smoothies?
Generally speaking, you can drink a green smoothie at any time of the day. However, if your green smoothie contains energizing/stimulating herbs or powders, then it’s best to drink it in the morning. Examples of these energizing powders include maca, cacao and matcha.
Is it OK to drink a green smoothie every day?
Most people can drink green smoothies everyday and reap all the benefits. However, if you have thyroid issues, then try not to over-rely on cruciferous veggies – like kale – as your green. Instead, rotate the greens you use and experiment with spinach, romaine lettuce or even cucumber (which counts as a green veggie, even if it isn’t a leaf!).
What are the best greens to put in a smoothie?
Some of the best greens to use in a smoothie are:
- Salad greens (such as romaine lettuce).
If you’d like more tips on ingredients and recipes, this article on how to make a green smoothie, plus this one on how to make a green smoothie bowl, are a great place to start.
So, is it better to drink a green smoothie or eat a salad? Well, it all depends on the state of your gut and digestive system.
If both are in good health, you can enjoy smoothies and salads regularly without much concern.
However, if you have a very delicate digestive system, then a smoothie would be a better option. But in some cases, even that might be too much.
If it turns out that a smoothie is still too much for your body, then you definitely want to look into juicing, which I discuss in this article. That is by far, the most superior option for getting in more nutrients while also pampering a sensitive gut and digestive system.
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