How Healthy Is Your Smoothie?

When you’re busy, hungry, and on the go, what could be wrong with grabbing a fruit-filled smoothie? As it turns out, a lot. But it can all be fixed if you take the time to make a proper smoothie at home.

Overall, people think that smoothies are healthy because, in their minds, they’re just drinking fruits or vegetables. They’ll have it as a snack or as a meal, but depending on where you get it, smoothies can be loaded with sugar. It’s something that sounds healthy but has enough added sugars and calories you might as well be eating ice cream.

Drinking a premade smoothie as a meal replacement will not necessarily save you calories. Like drinking juices and soda, it will temporarily give you an energy boost, but they’re a quick source of sugar and calories, so you’ll be hungry later after your blood sugar has spiked and crashed.

But just because smoothies can be loaded with not-so-good-for-you additives doesn’t mean you should kiss blended fruit treats goodbye. Done right, smoothies can be a great meal replacement or snack. Your best bet? Make it at home. Follow these tips for a delicious, smoothie that can keep you powered up for hours.

  • Use whole fruit. When you use juice, you lose the natural fiber that helps your body process sugar. Try whole or frozen fresh fruit in your next smoothie. Freezing lots of berries (because of their high concentration of fiber and antioxidants) and just-overripe bananas.
  • Be smart with liquids. The added fruit juice that comes in premade smoothies provides unnecessary sugar, without any of the fiber or volume. Use unsweetened almond milk for creaminess. At 40 calories per cup, it’s really nutritious and tastes great.
  • Make it heart-healthy. Up the nutritional power of a smoothie by including a heart-healthy fat, like a tablespoon of almond butter or ground flax seeds.
  • Go green. You can put in any greens you want because they are pretty benign in flavor but high in nutrients. Because they’re low in calories, feel free to add as much as you’d like. Try spinach, kale, or cucumber, which have a natural sweetness.
  • Use filling protein. Protein is what transforms a smoothie from snack to meal. Our body takes the most time to break down protein, so it’ll keep you full for a longer amount of time. Try using raw, vegan protein powders.
  • Skip these. Avoid yogurt, dairy, and additional sweeteners to keep calories, fat, and sugar down. Keep in mind that even one cup of nonfat Greek yogurt has almost 200 calories.