7 Tricks to Make a Healthy Smoothie
Done correctly, smoothies are nutrition powerhouses that can pump you full of healthy fruits and veggies. Done wrong, they can pad your waistline with excess sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients.
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The best way to enjoy a smoothie? Make it yourself.
They're refreshing, easy to sip on the go, and packed with health-boosting nutrients. But smoothies from grocery stores and quick-service chains often contain ridiculous amounts of sugar and fat. Some have more than 600 calories in one cup, and carbs could easily reach a day's total. But the right mix of ingredients can serve up a powerful dose of nutrients and vitamins.
Use the following tips to whip up the perfect drink to flood your body with nutrition without adding pudge.
Healthy smoothies have plenty of ice.
A 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who drank dense smoothies felt fuller than those who had a thinner version—even when the calorie counts were the same! The best way to thicken your smoothie without adding calories? Ice. Get started with these healthy breakfast smoothies.
Healthy smoothies have low- or nonfat dairy.
Calorie-bomb smoothies may use ice cream or full-fat yogurt, but low- or nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese gives your smoothie a healthy dose of filling protein without excess calories.
Healthy smoothies have whole fruit.
Does your go-to smoothie blend fruit juice instead of cut-up fruit? You’re missing out on a crucial opportunity for fiber, which takes longer to digest so you don’t get hunger pangs an hour after eating. Try banana, mixed berries, or apple. Frozen fruit may make your smoothie taste thicker and frostier. You can cut up ripe peaches, plums, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, and apricots, then spread them on a tray and freeze until firm. Store in individual baggies until you're ready to blend. These kid-friendly smoothies are adult approved, too.
Healthy smoothies aren't afraid of veggies.
Unless you’re already on board with green juice, it may seem odd to add veggies to your smoothie. But leafy greens like spinach and kale blend into smoothie beautifully and contribute many disease-fighting compounds. Plus, the sweet fruits mask any lingering tang from the lettuces, so you'll never know they're there. Of course, they'll turn your beverage green, so if you're trying to sneak a few past a toddler or kid, consider mixing them into a smoothie with cocoa to hide the hue. Give green a go with these 9 green smoothie recipes.
Healthy smoothies contain omega-3s.
A tablespoon of flaxseed meal goes a long way to add both fiber and inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Just be sure to use flaxseed meal or ground flaxseed, not whole seeds. The whole seeds will pass right through your digestive tract and provide no nutritional boost.
Healthy smoothies boast healthy fats.
A little bit of unsaturated fat (half an avocado, or a tablespoon of nut butter) keeps you full, too. The key word is little, or else you’ll turn the smoothie into a diet disaster.
Healthy smoothies taste sweet—without added sugar.
If the smoothie doesn’t taste good, there’s no point in drinking it. But you can achieve that sweet sensation with light coconut milk or water. (Again, fruit juices contain added sugar.) You can also blend in a teaspoon or two of honey, a little vanilla extract, or some unsweetened cocoa powder or cinnamon. Try these weight-loss smoothies that fill you up without overdoing the sweetener.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Empty Calories and Phantom Fullness: A Randomized Trial Studying the Relative Effects of Energy Density and Viscosity on Gastric Emptying Determined by MRI and Satiety.”
- Montmayeur, J. Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2010.
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight loss: Feel full on fewer calories."
- PLoS One:“Daily Consumption of a Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie Alters Facial Skin Color.”
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Full Report (All Nutrients): 12220, Seeds, flaxseed."
- U.S. Department of Agricultural. “Basic Report: 01012, Cheese, Cottage, Creamed, Large or Small Curd.”