Keep your green smoothie, I’m having toast!

20th January, 2016

I am writing this in response to reading about yet another juice bar opening at one of Melbourne’s markets.

Note: I would like to be clear that I have nothing against green smoothies or the people who drink them. My issue is when green smoothies are touted as a weight loss product, a way to look good in a bikini or a cure for cancer. I am also not suggesting toast is better than a green smoothie, just pointing out that a green smoothie is not necessarily superior to toast!

So why this green smoothie (or juice) craze?

Is it because they are associated with attractive, slim people with 6 packs or it is simply because they are being promoted by self-proclaimed wellness gurus? I use the term self-proclaimed, as a degree, where ever it is from, does not make you an expert, a few good years of experience in the field and continued professional development is what does. Or, perhaps it is the companies who sell the expensive blenders that keep advertising and proclaiming the benefits of drinking your vegetables in a smoothie form? Not forgetting the people in the ads are tanned and “shredded” with dazzling smiles.

I find it interesting and somewhat amusing that most dietitians and nutritionists I know, along with the majority of my friends and family who have generally always nourished their bodies well, haven’t bought into the green smoothie craze. It’s not that we don’t think they’re not nutritious, of course they are, it’s just that we recognise you don’t need to blend your vegetables with an expensive machine to look after your health. Now, I am not saying your shouldn’t enjoy a green smoothie if that’s your cup of tea, I’m just pointing out that they are not some elixir to good health that will magically transform your body to look like that of the people who are so often seen promoting them.

As for me, I haven’t tried a green smoothie or juice, not so much because I don’t want to, but more because of planning the vegetables and other ingredients, getting the blender out and then cleaning it and well, toast is so much easier. Not to mention I like chewing my food and drinking my breakfast simply doesn’t appeal to me.

There is a lot to be said for chewing your food too, it may actually help with managing your appetite.

Pass me the toast any day.

I thought I’d do a nutritional and cost comparison of my usual breakfast of sourdough toast with extra virgin olive oil and vegemite vs a green smoothie (recipe from the first website listed when I googled green smoothies).

Protein: 15g vs 14g – no difference

Carbohydrates: 55g vs 40g – more in toast

Fat: 47g vs 29g – the higher fat with my toast is due to the 2 tbls of olive oil I use!

Fibre: 10g vs 21g – the smoothie has twice as much fibre due to the large quantity of raspberries that appear in this recipe. But 10g is still high fibre, we only need 25-35g for the day.

The meals contain similar levels of some vitamins/minerals and while the toast is higher in folate due to vegemite, the smoothie is higher in other vitamins and minerals due to the fruit and veggies. However, if you eat plenty of fruit and veggies over the rest of the day, these differences would disappear.

My toast costs around $1.50 per serve (I do buy expensive bread, $7 per loaf). If you made the smoothie yourself, I calculated the ingredients at around $4.5 per smoothie, so 3 times the price. However, if you were buying this from a juice bar, you might be looking at $6-8. I am happy to stand corrected on this, I am using Boost juice as a guide.

Given people of lower SES and more limited economic means tend to consume lower quality diets, I can’t fathom how another juice bar is going to be of any significant benefit to our populations nutrition.

The green smoothie trend, like many other current food trends, is targeted at, and generally taken up by people of higher SES who often already have better nutrition.

Thanks for reading and as always, I am happy to take your comments on Facebook!