Jun 25, 2023
Are smoothies healthy? Here are 11 healthy smoothie recipe options
On a scorching hot summer day, it can be hard to fathom eating or drinking anything that isn’t cool. Extreme heat has been making its way across the U.S. (especially in the southern states) this
On a scorching hot summer day, it can be hard to fathom eating or drinking anything that isn’t cool. Extreme heat has been making its way across the U.S. (especially in the southern states) this summer, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Between iced coffee, chilled beverages and refreshing summer cocktails, cold drinks are a staple this time of year. Your blender might also be working overtime during the summer months as you whip up a cold afternoon smoothie.
Blending up something delicious this summer? Here’s your definitive guide to making the healthiest one.
There are endless ingredients that you can include in a smoothie, but the healthiest way to make one is to include a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
According to registered dietitian Kate Regan, this three-part formula is the key to creating a healthy smoothie.
“To build a satisfying and nourishing smoothie, you want to be adding a variety of different nutrients, just like you would look at a meal or a snack and aim to have variety in those,” she says.
Smoothie-ready carbohydrates can be found in the form of fruits, vegetables and starchy foods. Carbohydrates give us quick bursts of energy, followed by a crash when the energy is depleted. This means your fruit-filled smoothie won’t keep you full for long if it doesn’t have a source of fat or protein in it. Pairing carbohydrates with proteins and fats provides longer-lasting energy and satiety.
Good fat options for smoothies include nuts, seeds, nut butter, avocados or Greek yogurt, which can also provide protein. Regan also recommends choosing a high-protein liquid like dairy milk or soy milk. You can also add a scoop of protein powder.
But if you’re looking for a few ingredients to give your smoothie an extra boost, check out the health benefits of these options Regan recommends:
“Those are really easy ways to sneak in nutrition without really tasting it,” Regan says. “Especially if you’re someone who doesn’t love vegetables, smoothies are a great way to mask the flavor of them but still make sure you’re getting the nutrition.”
Truthfully, any fruit or veggie you include in your blended creation will be a healthy choice. In her practice and online, Regan says she sees a lot of fear around high sugar content. Fruit in general has a lot of natural sugar, which is a healthy source of energy. If you’re pairing it with protein and fat in a smoothie, you don’t need to be concerned about the amount of sugar, Regan says.
“Smoothies are a great vehicle for nutrition and fiber and protein and lots of wonderful nutrients for our body,” she says. “The message that they are too high in sugar so we should be avoiding them is not really accurate.”
The first step to building a smoothie is to stick to the three-part equation of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Make a mental note of all three categories you’re including in your smoothie.
Next, make sure the consistency is just right.
“If you’re using frozen fruits and veggies, we’re aiming for about a 50-50 ratio of ingredients to liquid. If you’re using fresh fruit and vegetables, we’re going to need a little bit less liquid, so aiming for a split of 70% ingredients and 30% liquid,” Regan says.
If you want a colder, thicker smoothie and don't have frozen vegetables, try adding a bit of ice.
Want to make a tasty and nutritious smoothie but don’t know where to start? Try out one of these USA TODAY-curated recipes that include carbs, proteins and fats.
Nut Butter Split:
PB & J:
The “Looks Bad, Tastes Good”
Sweet Potato Treat:
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