Is Your Smoothie Healthy? Don’t Waste Your Time with the Wrong Ingredients.

Putting almonds into a blender

Are you getting a full meal out of your smoothie?

Why do you need smoothies?

Most people struggle to find the time to cook and prepare all the right food… to say nothing of the constant battle to keep dirty dishes from piling up afterward.

And if being short on time wasn’t enough, getting the right nutrition every day can seem like an impossible task.  

Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of time to get all the right nutrients into at least one of your meals of the day. Smoothies can be the perfect addition to your diet if you are short on time… but refuse to compromise on nutrition.

Are smoothies good for you?

Man waking up tired

Smoothies have a host of benefits — if done right. There are a lot of ways you can mix your smoothie up, but here’s what you stand to gain by fitting all the right ingredients into your blender:

1. Smoothies save you time

This benefit cannot be overstated. Saving yourself time means a less rushed daily routine. It means that you’ll have more time to do the things that are most important to you. 

Americans are spending less and less time eating all the time, with the average person in the US only spending 1 hour 8 minutes eating during each weekday. Clean-up and preparation of the food only add 30-40 minutes every day [1].  

If nutrition is especially important to you, smoothies can mean that you’ll be getting the same (or better) nutrition every day in less time. If you’re less pressed for time in general, you’ll have more time to ensure that your other meals are higher-quality as well. 

So if you’re always pressed for time, why hesitate? Healthy smoothies might be the difference between you feeding yourself well and not. 

2. You’ll get more vegetables and fruits in your diet

Split avocados on a countertop

According to the CDC, only 1 out of every 10 Americans gets enough fruits and vegetables in their diets [2]

Not getting enough of these types of plants may mean that your fiber, vitamin, and mineral intake are too low, leading to a host of short and long-term health problems. 

A lack of fiber makes weight loss more difficult, digestion less effective, chronic inflammation more likely, and is associated with higher chances of colorectal cancer — to name just a few problems [3][4][5]

3. You can fit an “entire meal” into a cup

Again, if you’re short on time and nutrition in your diet, it doesn’t get much better than a balanced smoothie. 

Smoothies shouldn’t, of course, take the place of a solid foods diet altogether… unless you’re recovering from an injury or a surgery that affects your ability to chew. 

But as long as you get all the right ingredients into your smoothie, you can easily get the right amounts of macronutrients (better known as fat, protein, and carbohydrates) that your body needs to function at its best. 

4. Your meal planning becomes less complicated

Frozen blueberries in large quantity

Having a smoothie as part of your routine can take some of the mental work out of feeding yourself. Many of the best ingredients for smoothies are perishable, but can still be bought in bulk and stored in your freezer. 

This means that with a minimal amount of shopping and planning, you can have all the ingredients ready to throw into your smoothie at a moment’s notice… and you’ll only have to refresh or add variety to your supply every couple of weeks. 

For people that struggle to get enough nutrition in their diet, this is especially helpful. Having at least one meal planned for multiple weeks at a time means that you don’t have to wonder if you’re getting enough of the right nutrients. 

What are the best smoothie ingredients?

What should you add to your smoothie? As you plan to get the most out of your smoothie, here are some general guidelines on what to add to get the most out of your smoothie:

1. Fiber 

Bananas in bulk at the supermarket

Your smoothie can be the vehicle that gets your diet from good to great. Americans typically only get 10 to 15 grams of fiber while the USDA recommends about 25 grams of fiber daily for women and 38 for men [6].

That means that in just one smoothie, you can get as much fiber as some people get in their entire daily intake. 

As you select foods high in fiber for your smoothies, here are a couple of nutrients to look for:

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are known for how they help control the damage done to the body by free radicals. Controlling free radicals with antioxidants is said to help reduce chances of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and help slow the aging process [7]

Common smoothie ingredients high in fiber and antioxidants: 

  • Wild blueberries
  • Blueberries (cultivated)
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Prunes
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Red Delicious apples
  • Granny Smith apples
  • Pecans
  • Sweet cherries
  • Black plums
  • Plums
  • Gala apples

Anthocyanins, also known as anthocyanidins

Test for eyesight, optical health

Anthocyanins are what give many plants their blue, red, and purple coloring. They’re also a type of antioxidant, so they are thought to help fight and control disease and aging.

They are also thought to fight microbes, improve vision and brain health, and prevent all kinds of diseases [8]

Most all of the foods listed above are high in anthocyanins and would be a great, high-in-fiber addition to your smoothie (pecans would be the exception). 

2. Protein

Many people get too much protein in their diet; it’s common for people to get twice as much protein as needed in a typical day [9].

A breakfast smoothie is your chance to pace yourself right for the day with nutrients like protein. 10-20 grams of protein is more than enough for your first meal of the day. 

To balance your smoothie, look to add these for complete nutrition:

Plant-based supplements

Mortar and pestle used for blending herbs and vegetables

More and more research is indicating that plant-based diets lead to significantly longer life and lower mortality rates. These plant-based diets can also include occasional fish, dairy, and eggs [10][11].

This is why we first recommend a plant-based protein supplement. You can check out our favorite supplement here — it fits in exactly 10 grams of protein per serving and includes over 20 vitamins and minerals from its plant-based ingredients. 

Dairy-based supplements

If you don’t have any intolerances to lactose or dairy products, you might also benefit from a dairy-based supplement like whey protein.

While this may be ideal for people with high-protein demands like bodybuilders or high-intensity athletes, keep in mind that dairy-based supplements don’t generally carry many health benefits beyond the protein and calcium content. 

Nuts and nut-butters (with no added sugars)

Again — intolerances and allergies barred — nuts can be a great addition to your smoothie. They contain healthy fats, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They have also been linked to improved outcomes for cardiovascular health [12].

Red plant-based smoothie

This can include nuts like walnuts, almonds, or pecans and their respective kinds of butter with no added sugars. 

Like with all foods, though, moderation is important with nuts and nut butter. More than a handful or two of nuts per day is more than experts typically recommend [13]

Nuts are a great part of a balanced diet. But compared to the total portion of the food you eat every day, nuts are only a small part of the total picture. 

3. Fat

The right fats are a necessary part of a complete diet and have a host of health benefits, including better heart health and lower cardiovascular disease [14]

Some of the best sources of healthy fats that can be used easily in your smoothie are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Full-fat yogurt (no added sugars)
  3. Nuts (remembering that nuts should be used sparingly)

Other foods that are great sources of healthy fats are fatty fish (like salmon or tuna), eggs, cheese. Since these foods can get you the recommended daily value of healthy fats rapidly, it may not be necessary at all to add fats into your morning smoothie. 

4. Flavor

Man holding a cocoa fruit

If your smoothies aren’t quite getting the flavor you like, consider trying some of the following healthy additions to your mix:

Seasonings

To spice up your smoothie with a little kick, try seasonings usually used with sweet foods like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger. 

Cocoa powder

Make sure to use a cocoa powder with no added sugar. This can be a great way to add a powerful boost of antioxidants to your smoothie as well. 

Bananas, mangoes

High in fiber and nutrients, these fruits are powerful sweeteners for your smoothie. They’re especially useful if you’re adding any vegetables that might have a strong flavor, as these will help mask flavors you don’t want dominating your mix. 

What are the worst things to put in smoothies?

Technically, this list could go on forever. But here’s the most common mistake with the clearest negative consequences:

Added sugars

refined sugar on a food scale

Using the right fresh fruit in your smoothie will generally do a great job of sweetening your smoothie with naturally occurring sugars.

However, added sugars hit your bloodstream very quickly. Depending on how often and how intense these blood sugar spikes are, this can cause both short and long-term health problems [15].

Here are some common added sugars and foods that frequently have added sugars to watch out for:

  • Agave syrup
  • Syrup
  • Fruit juices
  • Yogurt
  • Brown sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Coconut sugar

Need a fast way to add high-grade nutrition to your smoothie?

green powder supplement

If you’re looking for a quick way to get balance in your smoothies, try our favorite antioxidant smoothie blend supplement. Why is it an easy choice? Check it out:

Pace your metabolism 

Contains 10 grams of plant-based protein.

Fulfill your body’s needs

Contains 20+ naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. 

Fight disease and aging

Contains 20 different natural sources of antioxidants.

Support a thriving gut

Contains 7 billion dairy-free probiotic microbes.

Easy on your system

Nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, soy-free

References

  1. Time spent in primary activities and percent of the civilian population engaging in each activity, averages per day on weekdays and weekends, 2019 annual averages
  2. Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables
  3. Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight — But Only A Specific Type
  4. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet
  5. Dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer and incident and recurrent adenoma in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial
  6. Should I be eating more fiber?
  7. How can antioxidants benefit our health?
  8. Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits
  9. Current protein intake in America: analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2004
  10. Impact of Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome, cancer and longevity
  11. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health Study 2
  12. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  13. Go Nuts!
  14. Choosing Healthy Fats
  15. Get the Facts: Added Sugars

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