7 Ways to Sweeten Your Green Smoothies
Green smoothies are nutrient-packed, especially once you start using a variety of different green vegetables to pull in a wider spectrum of minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals. Still, unless your palate has become accustomed to the diverse flavors of green smoothies, you may prefer to sweeten them up a bit with a sugar-alternative. Unfortunately, a diet high in sugar has been proven to lead to diabetes, weight-gain, and all kinds of disease. A diet high in fructose is not much better either. Here are seven sugar-alternatives to use in your smoothies. Many do still use fructose, however, so the key is to use just enough to make it more enjoyable—but just like anything, sweeteners should be used in moderation. Green Smoothies are an excellent way to boost your health, but can’t do as good of a job if they are loaded with sugar and fructose as well.
- Honey—Honey is a natural sugar-alternative, made from bees. As an added benefit to its sweetness and distinct flavor, it is high in the B-vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants. I recommend you buy your honey local for the added bonus of helping maintain and prevent seasonal allergies due to the allergens in your local area. Find this sugar-alternative at local farmer’s markets, health food stores, and some grocery stores.
- Bee Pollen—Bee Pollen is another excellent and delicious natural sugar-alternative. And as an added bonus to its sweetness, bee pollen is high in protein and carbohydrates and has trace minerals and vitamins. And just like local honey, eating this sugar-alternative can really help treat seasonal allergies like hay fever, or prevent them all together. Bee Pollen can be found at your local health food store.
- Dates—whole, pitted dates are a delicious and easy sugar-alternative. Just throw a few in your smoothie and it boosts the sweetness perfectly. You can also soak them over night and puree them to really bring out the sweetness. Of course, this sugar-alternative is fructose-based, so use a minimal amount to maintain health.
- Unsweetened Concentrated Grape Juice—Unsweetened Concentrated Grape Juice is naturally sweet from the fructose found in the grapes and a great sugar-alternative. A tablespoon of this sweet sugar-alternative is sufficient in making a green smoothie sweet, without packing excessive amounts of fructose in your diet.
- Agave—Agave is a natural sugar-alternative derived from the root of the agave cactus plant. It is considered to be low-glycemic meaning it won’t raise your blood sugar levels as high as other sweeteners of a higher-glycemic index (such as sugar). Still, it is made mostly of fructose and glucose, so should be used in moderation. It is usually found as a liquid and has a mild-flavor too, so will not overpower the other flavors of your smoothie. Agave can be found just about anywhere other sugar-alternatives are sold.
- Xylitol—Xylitol is an excellent sugar-alternative. It is naturally found in mushrooms, fruits, vegetables, and the birch tree. Similarly to some of the other sweeteners here, it is considered to be low-glycemic, so it only mildly raises blood sugar levels when consumed. As an added bonus to its sweetening capabilities, xylitol prevents cavities and ear infections, promotes weight loss, and helps strengthen bones and teeth. It is usually found in powder form at your local health food store. I recommend trying a sample or small packet first to make sure you like the taste before the buying a big bag as it costs much more than sugar.
- Stevia—Stevia is herbal sugar-alternative so there is no fructose in it at all. As a matter of a fact, it is zero-glycemic, meaning it doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels at all. Additionally, it is zero-calories, uses no harmful chemicals, reduces cravings for sweets and fatty foods, and even has mild-antibacterial properties. A little bit goes long ways, so I would recommend using less than the serving size on the brand you buy. Every brand is different in what they consider a serving. So start off using just a fraction of the serving size amount and see how it tastes. Add more if needed. If you use too much, it will not taste good, but a small amount enhances the sweetness of your smoothie and tastes great! Find this wonderful sugar-alternative at health food stores and some grocery store chains.
Each person has different preferences of sugar-alternative to suit their tastes, but this list of seven should give you a great base of choices to try out and find the one that works for you.