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Health

Are ‘nutritional’ smoothies worth price?
Experts: Many boosters provide little benefit
 
Published Tuesday, September 3, 2013 10:07 pm
by The Chicago Defender

clientuploads/v38n13photos/fruit_smoothie_300.jpgOne of the reasons consumers are drawn to smoothies is because of the additional supplements that are used to “boost” the nutritional content. However, these supplements are often genetically modified and contain lots of chemical fillers and other synthetic ingredients that make them less healthy than you may realize.

Many times, the actual nutrient being touted, like vitamin C, is usually one of the last items on the ingredient list and is generally of poor quality (meaning absorption rates and nutritional benefit are questionable).

Your sudden surge of energy is more likely from the sugar than the booster nutrient.

Yet, many smoothie franchises will advertise special ingredients called “boosters” or “enhancers,” claiming these “healthy” additions can work a number of miracles from curing hangovers, promoting healing, burning fat and increasing immunity to restoring vitality.

Naturally, these additions come with an additional price tag. Extra ingredients can cost 50 cents a pop and quickly increase a $3 smoothie to a $5 price tag. What’s worse is that experts say it’s often a waste of money.

The best way to ensure a “booster” is indeed a healthy option is to make the retailer accountable for its ingredients. The ultimate scenario is that the retailer is using a smoothie booster made from highly raw and organic whole foods in powder form, without any added chemicals. That way, the vitamins and minerals are all naturally occurring and easily absorbed in the body.

So what are some of these “extra nutrition additives,” and are they worth paying for?

Aloe vera juice. The famous burn remedy, appearing regularly as a miracle cure for a wide range of ailments. There is no scientific proof that swallowing it cures or treats anything. Not only that, some of the constituents may be carcinogenic and it could cause severe cramping, diarrhea and bleeding, in its form as a laxative.

Chromium Picolinate. This one is touted as a fat burning, muscle building substance, again with no scientific proof. It cannot increase lean muscle mass, only lifting weights can do that, and it has no curative effect on diabetes, as some claims assert.

Acidophilus. This is a good source of beneficial intestinal bacteria, valuable for assisting digestion, but is also the active ingredient in yogurt, so if your smoothie is yogurt based you can skip this additive.

Spirulina. Highly touted to do everything from cure acne to impotence, “purify blood” and cures most diseases. It is of little proven benefit. It does have a few vitamins, but not as much, nor as valuable as most fruits. Chlorophyll, one of its main ingredients, is of benefit to plants, not humans.

Ginkgo Biloba. Claims are it improves blood flow and circulatory disorders, prevents or cures absent-mindedness, memory loss, and dementia. Don’t I wish? Actual studies show it may have limited benefits for some Alzheimer’s patients, no proven benefit for others.

Ginseng. Another ingredient that’s been making miracle cure claims for ages. No evidence that it does anything.

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