Why this blackberry avocado smoothie is great for digestion and gut health
ICYMI, Dr. Brown previously shared his preferred gut-friendly juice recipe, which also packs tropical fruits and berries. However, he reminds us that it’s ideal to consume produce whole, or in a form like smoothies, to keep their fiber content intact to facilitate digestion and help good gut bacteria thrive. Fiber definitely takes a starring role in this recipe, but it’s bolstered by a smattering of other nutrients that are also beneficial for your gut and overall health.
- Kenneth Brown, MD, board-certified gastroenterologist and GI doctor in Plano, Texas
“This smoothie provides an excellent source of fiber and protein, healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin C,” Dr. Brown shares. He *pun alert* breaks down his favorite smoothie’s nutritional contents as such:
- Fiber: 15.5 grams
- Protein: 22 grams
- Total fat: 23 grams
- Omega-3s: 1.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 120 milligrams
- Calories: 370
According to 2021 stats from the American Society for Nutrition, only 9 percent of women and 5 percent of men in the United States consume adequate fiber each day. Fortunately, this fruit smoothie will make a big impact to inch closer to the recommendation of getting 25 to 38 grams daily. The high content of fiber and protein—both of which are highly satiating, gut-friendly, and heart-healthy—also help to stabilize energy levels, thanks to the fruits’ natural sugar content. Healthy fats from the avocado, Greek yogurt, and chia seeds help to round out the smoothie’s macronutrient profile, allowing it to serve as a balanced mini meal or snack.
Omega-3s—the primary source of which are flax seeds in this recipe—also happen to be powerful to promote gut health. Per a 2017 review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, human studies show omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) positively influence the gut-brain axis. In addition, animal studies demonstrate that omega-3s help maintain intestinal wall integrity.
Last but not least, the papaya packs papain (say that five times fast), a digestive enzyme that can help with gas and constipation. And most Greek yogurts contain probiotics, have fewer grams of added sugar, and boast a higher protein content than other types of yogurt.
Tips to make, modify, and enjoy this blackberry avocado smoothie recipe
- Although papaya is one of the heroes in this digestion-boosting smoothie, you can substitute it if need be. “If papaya is not available, mango is a great alternative for a similar tropical flavor and is also rich in vitamins A and C,” Dr. Brown notes.
- The fruit already packs a decent amount of natural sugar: around 18 grams, the gastro estimates. To limit added sugars, which can trigger digestive upset and inflammation, he suggests opting for unsweetened varieties of Greek yogurt.
- Aim to use ground flax seeds. “If your flax seeds are whole, start by grinding them in a coffee grinder or blender to ensure you get their full nutritional benefits,” Dr. Brown advises.
- If you’re not used to including a ton of fiber in your diet, boost your water intake to reduce the potential for digestive discomfort.
A GI doctor’s papaya blackberry avocado smoothie recipe
1 cup ripe papaya, cubed
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 ripe avocado
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp flax seeds
Juice of half a lemon
- Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until they’re fully mixed and the smoothie has a cream-like consistency.
- Taste the smoothie. If you prefer additional sweetness, add a drizzle of honey.
- Pour the smoothie into a glass and enjoy immediately. “The lemon juice should help keep the avocado from oxidizing, but this smoothie is best enjoyed fresh,” says Dr. Brown.
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