Green smoothies are delicious, nutritious super-meals. But for some people, certain ingredients used in a smoothie can bite back by inflicting a burning or itchy sensation in the mouth, or even causing blisters.
There are three main reasons why drinking a green smoothie might give you a burning sensation in your mouth or throat.
1) Oral Allergy Syndrome
The most common is that you have an allergy to one of the ingredients you used to make the smoothie.
Some of the most common allergenic fruits include bananas, mangoes, papaya, kiwifruit, apples, oranges, cantaloupes, and strawberries, to name a few. These fruits contain proteins that are similar to protein antigens found in pollen.
Itching, burning and even swelling of the lips can result from eating fruits that you are allergic to.
If you do not know which fruit is causing the allergic response, simplify your green smoothies by using only one fruit at a time. For example, make a simple banana-spinach green smoothie, and if that has no negative effect, then add one additional fruit every few days until you isolate the culprit.
An allergy doctor can also help you determine what you are allergic to so that you can avoid fruits and/or vegetables that provoke a response in the future.
2) Bromelain Enzyme Burn
While I have never experienced a burning sensation from eating pineapple, some people do. For some, it may be Oral Allergy Syndrome.
However, that pineapple burn might not be allergies at all, and could be caused by a protein-digesting enzyme found in the fruit called bromelain.
If you are sensitive to this enzyme, it can cause tongue pain and burning shortly after eating fresh pineapple. Bromelain isn’t harmful, though, and the enzyme is deactivated by your stomach acid.
Bromelaine is especially concentrated in the tough, fibrous core of a pineapple. If you are sensitive to bromelain, don’t blend pineapple core into your green smoothies. Rinsing your mouth with salt water (bleck!) is said to quickly neutralize the burn.
3) Combining Maca Root Powder With Kale or Other Cruciferous Greens
While I haven’t found anything written about this, both my husband and I experience a burning sensation in our throats when we drink a green smoothie made with raw maca powder and kale. It also happens when we mix maca powder with any other cruciferous green.
I can make a maca-spinach green smoothie, or blend maca and dandelion greens just fine. And I can add all the kale I want to any combination of fruits in a green smoothie. But I just can’t choke down maca with crucifers.
I suspect that there is a naturally-occurring chemical compound in both maca and kale that becomes too concentrated when I mix the two.
I also need to be mindful when using certain protein powders that contain maca, because even just a little bit will cause the reaction.
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