You would think that fresh fruit pureed into delicious perfection is a go-to for anyone who wants a lighter, healthier choice. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds, or maybe you keep your fabulous figure — so you drink a smoothie for breakfast, and you’re good to go.
But is your smoothie actually healthy? Here are three questions to ask yourself to make sure your smoothie gives you the benefits you seek.
- What Fruits or Vegetables Did You Put in Your Smoothie?
If your answer was “banana”, then think again. When you look up recipes for smoothies, you often find banana as one of the ingredients. While bananas may be a good post-cardio snack, they add 17.6 grams of carbs to your smoothie. Compare that to raspberries, which only have 7.1 grams of carbs. You want to find fruits and vegetables that are low in carbs, as well as calories.
If your answer was “kale”, then you’re right — you have yourself a healthy smoothie. Kale has numerous health benefits. There are 36 calories in a cup of kale, and no fat. Not crazy about the taste of kale? Pumpkin could work. So could beets, as they’re full of nitrates and help your body produce nitric oxide.
- What Liquid Did You Put in Your Smoothie?
If your answer was “ice cream”, then spit out that smoothie — that’s a milkshake. Although delicious, ice cream is the worst possible liquid to put in a smoothie if you want it to be healthy. The better option for you is to add yogurt. Some yogurt can contain a lot of sugar, but it has less calories and more vitamins than ice cream.
If your answer was “milk”, then you moooo-ed the right choice. Milk has less calories and sugar than both ice cream and yogurt, yet milk gives you vitamins and nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis. Another option would be adding ice. Ice has zero calories, but it also has zero vitamins. If you choose to use ice in your smoothie, make sure your fruits and vegetables have the vitamins you need.
- How Much Sugar Is in Your Smoothie?
If your answer was “none”, then think about what you’ve already put in your smoothie. Fruits and vegetables have natural sugar in them. Remember how bananas have lots of carbs? Well they also have lots of sugar. Although fruits and vegetables are vital to a healthy diet, it’s important to know how much sugar fruits and vegetables contain.
Bananas and mangos are two very popular fruits to put in smoothies and they are good for you, but both have a lot of sugar. If you want your smoothie to be lower on the sugar-side, then try raspberries, strawberries or avocado — yes, avocado is a fruit. If you prefer vegetables to the taste of fruit, add more kale or spinach.
So, Is Your Smoothie Healthy?
Now you know the basics: Fruits and vegetables, milk or yogurt, and as little sugar as possible. But you can’t throw just any of that into a smoothie and call it healthy. Here are some additional suggestions so you know you’re making a nutritious and delicious smoothie:
- Use fresh fruits or vegetables
- Add high protein ingredients like peanut butter or almond milk
- Choose a non-fat yogurt or low-fat milk for less calories and carbs
- Add honey or vanilla as a sweetener instead of white sugar
There you have it. The next time you go to make a smoothie, you’ll know you made healthy choices on what to put in it. Whether it’s after a workout or your breakfast to start the day right, a smoothie can be as healthy as you think.