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Banana blueberries smoothie... the best combo??

Smoothies are a popular choice for health-conscious individuals looking for a quick and nutritious boost. One common ingredient in smoothies is bananas. Banana lends its sweetness and creaminess to smoothies. However, a recent study suggests that blending bananas with berries, another common smoothie component, might not be the best combination for maximizing the health benefits of berries.

Berries, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are renowned for their nutritional value. They are rich in various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a staple in many healthy diets. One particular group of beneficial compounds found in berries is flavanols, specifically flavan-3-ols, which have been linked to numerous health benefits.

The study (1), published in the journal Food & Function, focused on the impact of blending bananas with berries on the flavanol content of smoothies. Flavanols are known for their antioxidant properties and their ability to support heart health, brain function, and overall well-being. However, the researchers found that the level of flavanols in smoothies decreased when flavanol-rich foods, such as berries, were mixed with bananas.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Javier Ottaviani, emphasized that while bananas are a popular addition to smoothies, they may not be ideal for individuals with specific nutritional goals. He suggested that those looking to maximize their flavanol intake through fruit smoothies should avoid combining flavanol-containing foods, such as berries, with fruits and vegetables high in polyphenol oxidase, like bananas.

The interaction between flavanols in berries and an enzyme in bananas called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) is believed to be responsible for the decrease in flavanol content. PPO is the same enzyme that causes fruits to brown when exposed to oxygen, a process familiar to anyone who has left sliced apples out for too long.

Despite the attention garnered by the study, some experts caution against drawing definitive conclusions based on its findings. They point out that the study had a relatively small sample size and focused primarily on healthy male participants aged 25-60. More research involving larger and more diverse populations is needed to confirm the results and explore potential differences based on factors such as age, gender, and health status.

Nevertheless, the study highlights the importance of considering the composition of ingredients in smoothies for optimal health benefits. While bananas are a convenient and versatile fruit, individuals seeking to maximize the nutritional value of their smoothies may want to explore alternative ingredients that do not interfere with the absorption of flavanols from berries.

In addition to flavanols, berries offer a range of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that contribute to overall health and well-being. For those who enjoy the flavor and texture that bananas add to smoothies, there is no need to completely eliminate them from their diet. However, it may be beneficial to try a different ingredient to give smoothies its creaminess. Almond milk, soy milk or even cashews could be used to add creaminess to smoothies.

Ultimately, the key to creating nutritious and delicious smoothies lies in experimenting with different combinations of fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients to find what works best for individual tastes and health goals. Whether bananas remain a staple ingredient or are replaced by alternatives, the goal is to create smoothies that are both enjoyable and nourishing.



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