This is a common question in which the answer will depend on if you’re consuming healthy whole-food smoothies full of fruits, vegetables, and (shameless plug) our homegrown superfood microgreens, or if you're consuming highly processed super-sweet smoothies containing sugar and other unhealthy ingredients?
What Exactly are Smoothies?
A smoothie is a fruit or vegetable juice blended with water, milk, yogurt, ice cream, or some combination of these. The benefits of drinking smoothies are that they are easy to make and can be very nutrient dense, depending on the ingredients added to the smoothie. They can also be lower in calories than a complete meal due to the fact that they are smaller and contain less caloric dense foods and fats.
Often, they are comprised of two main ingredients:
- A base like pureed fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, yogurt
- A liquid-like dairy or nondairy milk
Are Smoothies Good for You?
Smoothies are the perfect drink for when you want to eat healthy or for a light, low calorie meal. With the right ingredients they can provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, live enzymes, antioxidants, and much more.
A couple of other reasons smoothies can be good for you:
Increase Your Everyday Fruit and Vegetable Intake
An adult’s daily dietary requirements include at least five servings or 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily.
Smoothies with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables help meet your daily requirements.
They add essential vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals to your diet to improve digestion, reduce inflammation and reduce the risks of chronic conditions like osteoporosis and health disease.
Increase Fiber Consumption
Fiber prevents constipation and reduces the risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. But unfortunately, not everyone consumes sufficient fiber every day. This is where smoothies with fiber-rich ingredients help improve your fiber intake.
Are Smoothies Healthy Snacks or Meal Replacements?
Some smoothies are ideal low-calorie snacks, while those with more than 1000 calories affect your diet and calorie intake.
The best way to decide is based on:
- The smoothie ingredients
- Your specific needs and everyday calorie requirements
For example, 200-300 calorie smoothies with 10g of protein make an ideal snack. However, 400-800 calorie smoothies with 20g of protein are better for meal replacement.
It’s always better to consume freshly made smoothies as you can control your portion size. For example, while fats like avocado, nuts, and seeds contain more calories, they are also nutrient-dense.
However, sugary ingredients are empty calories without any nutrients.
What is the Healthiest Smoothie?
Healthy smoothies are generally classified into these three categories, with some possible overlapping:
Fruit smoothies comprising of one or more fruits with ice cream, fruit juice, water, or milk.
Green smoothies made of leafy green vegetables and water, juice, or milk. These smoothies are pretty heavy as they usually include fruits for sweetness.
Protein smoothies made by blending a fruit or vegetable with a protein source like protein powder, cottage cheese, and silken tofu.
What is the Healthiest Smoothie You Can Make?
The healthiest homemade and commercial smoothies contain ingredients like:
- Vegetables like kale, wheatgrass, carrots, microgreens, cucumber, and avocado
- Fruits like pineapple, mango, peach, berries, and banana
- Herbs and spices like cinnamon, basil, ginger, cocoa powder, and turmeric
- Nuts and seeds like almond butter, chia seeds, flax meal, and peanut butter
- Nutritional and herbal supplements like protein powder, bee pollen, spirulina, and powdered supplements
- Sweeteners like maple syrup, fruit juice concentrates, ice cream, stevia, raw sugar, honey, and pitted dates
- Liquid like water, coconut water, iced tea, cold brew coffee, and vegetable juice
- Other ingredients like vanilla extract, soaked oats, silken tofu, cooked white beans, and cottage cheese
Are Store-Bought Smoothies Healthy?
Store bought smoothies It is always better for people to limit their refined sugar consumption to as little as possible. Occasionally drinking smoothies with added sugar is okay. However, too much is not good, as sugar-rich smoothies are unhealthy and low in nutrient density. Excess sugar also increases the risk of diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.
So if you have smoothies regularly at home, restrict your sugary ingredients by using ripe, whole fruits and use other natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup for sweetness, it can be better for you than adding refined sugar.
But if you buy premade smoothies, avoid those containing added sugar and purchase those with whole foods like fruits and veggies, as most premade store bought smoothies are loaded with refined sugar, and preservatives.
While bought smoothies are usually high in sugar, it’s not a steadfast rule as it depends on the ingredients. Checking the label or company website reveals the ingredients.
Maple sugar and honey are pretty evident and easy-to-identify sugary ingredients. However, not many realize that even nut butter, fruit-flavored sauces, and flavored yogurts are added sugar sources.
Of course most smoothies will contain sweetener, it’s also important to consider if it contains added natural sweetener or if it’s loaded with refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup which is definitely a no-no.
Are Fresh Smoothies Better than Pre-botttled Smoothies?
Fresh smoothies made with fresh, healthy whole-foods and natural sweeter are generally of much higher quality than store-bought, pre-made smoothies.
Store bought smoothies are loaded with refined sugar and preservatives while fresh smoothies often contain better, more fresh ingredients and less refined sugar (if you’re getting your smoothies from the right places.
In short, smoothies make both a healthy snack and meal replacement option based on the ingredients. Different types of smoothies offer various benefits. Smoothies rich in fiber and protein keep you full longer, while those made with fruits and vegetables increase your daily vegetable servings.
As long as you are drinking smoothies made from a variety of fruits and vegetables and low in refined sugar, there would be no problem with consuming smoothies every day. However, fruits are naturally high in sugar and you want to make sure you are consuming an overall balanced diet to maintain optimum health.
Check out our Smoothie and Juice Bar, SuperCharge! Juice Bar & Urban Farm and our Full Smoothies Menu here