Kale and Smoothies. Nutritional Heavyweights or Overblown Contenders?
Welcome to Ian Thomas’s “”Question of the month” where he will address your dietary dilemmas.
In this first post, Ian is spoiling you by answering two of your questions. Over to Ian.
- Just how good is Kale and it’s derivatives?
Love it or hate it, kale has taken on superstar status recently in the nutrition world, but is this hype really justified? A member of the brassica family, kale is closely related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and everyone’s festive favourite, the brussel sprout.
Kale packs a nutrient punch when it comes to vitamins and minerals, with 1 portion serving up over 100% of your daily Vitamin A, K and C requirements, all for a meagre 33 calories.
Now, plant foods are a rich source of antioxidants which tests show can help improve long term health outcomes and protect against cancers, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular problems. Kale is particularly high in two of these compounds, Quercetin and Kaempferol, both of which also help improve cholesterol and obesity.
So on the surface it seems that Kale really does justify it’s superfood status, but it is worth pointing out that it is not exclusive in the benefits that it contains (apples and onions are also good sources of Quercetin), and just how much benefit does getting 600% of our Vitamin K RDA in one sitting, really give us?
Include Kale in your diet on a regular basis but not at the exclusion of other plant foods and ensure you maintain variety, which after all, is the spice of life.
2) Do Smoothies boost health, or just blood sugars?
Good question! Over the last 10 years or so, smoothies have solidified their position as a health food, but in a similar fashion to granola and “natural” energy bars, this may not be wholly deserved.
The rational for the smoothie’s acclaimed status is the ability to pack a load of vitamins and antioxidants into a small volume, providing a healthy boost to your dietary intake. Unfortunately, a lot of shop bought and even homemade smoothies which are based on fruit, contain large amounts of sugar which makes them palatable (a glass of broccoli, kale and parsley takes some stomaching compared to a carrot, apple and ginger blend).
There is evidence to suggest that smoothies can stimulate your appetite, and result in a significant sugar spike. This is due to the lack of fibre and the liquid nature of the food, which ultimately means that the nutrients are absorbed and processed quickly. A typical fruit based smoothie will contain around 30g of sugar, the same as the average chocolate bar, and whilst there is also goodness from the fruit, sugar is still sugar.
Ideally smoothies and fruit juice should be limited as much as possible and we should consume our fruit and veg from the whole foods themselves. If you really struggle to eat lots of fruit and veg due to practical reasons (or that you simply do not like them), then a small, 150ml glass a day would be beneficial.
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