Whether you enjoy smoothies for breakfast, a snack or even dessert, they're a great way to increase your daily servings of fruits and vegetables. But depending on the ingredients they're made with, smoothies can quickly turn into unhealthy calorie-bombs filled with sugar and saturated fat. And drinking too many high-calorie smoothies could counteract their health benefits and sabotage your efforts to stay--or get--slim.
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The healthiest way to enjoy a smoothie is to make your own. Blending your own choice of ingredients assures you know how much of and what foods you are getting. Wondering how to make a smoothie? A good smoothie should contain a blend of ingredients with protein and fiber to help keep you full and provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
And when it comes to smoothies, don't forget to keep an eye on portion sizes! If you are having a smoothie as a meal, aim for 300-400 calories. If your smoothie is a snack between meals, make it small and aim for less than 300 calories.
Here is a list of the best healthy smoothie ingredients based on their protein, fiber and nutrient contents:
Best High-Protein Smoothie Ingredients:
• Nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
• Nonfat or low-fat plain milk
• Nonfat or low-fat plain kefir
• Natural peanut butter
• Almond butter
• Plain soymilk
• Plain almond milk
Best Fruits for Smoothies (use fresh fruit, frozen fruit or fruit canned in water or its own juice):
• Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Best Vegetables for Smoothies (use raw):
Healthy Smoothie Additions for Flavor and Additional Nutrition:
• Chia seed
• Old-fashioned oats
• Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)
• Vanilla extract
• Coconut water
• Unsweetened cocoa powder
Smoothie Ingredients to Ditch
To keep your smoothie as healthy as possible, avoid adding these ingredients, which provide a lot of calories in the form of sugar and saturated fat, with little or no fiber or other nutrients.
• Sugar-sweetened fruit juice or concentrate
• Full-fat dairy products, such as milk or yogurt
• Flavored yogurt
• Whipped cream
• Ice cream
• Chocolate syrup
• Full-fat coconut milk
• Canned fruit in syrup
What do you put in your smoothie?
By Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D.
Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., is an Associate Food Editor at EatingWell where she splits her time between EatingWell magazine, eatingwell.com, and cooking new healthy recipes in the test kitchen. Breana has a master's degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, a Wine Spirit & Education Trust trained sommelier and is a registered dietitian.
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