Blending a range of healthy ingredients together in a delicious smoothie is an easy way to make sure you’re getting a good balance of nutrients into your day.
How can you be sure exactly what to put in them to tick as many boxes as possible, to maximize the health benefits, and meet your nutrition goals?
With the right combination of ingredients, you can create smoothies that are nutritionally balanced every time! The trick is to make sure that you are including foods that contain these vital nutrients.
Vitamins & Minerals
Fruits and vegetables provide key nutrients and are also important for lowering blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart disease, and even protecting against some forms of cancers.
Some of the fruits and vegetables that provide a range of nutrients include:
- Kale – Vitamins A, C, B6 and K, magnesium, calcium, and potassium
- Apricot – Vitamin A, folic acid, zinc, potassium, iron, and calcium
- Orange – Vitamin C, folate, and calcium
- Papaya – Vitamin C, calcium, and folic acid
- Berries and grapes are a great source of antioxidants, which are thought to have cancer-fighting properties.
Think all fats are bad? Some fats are actually needed for good health. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are heart healthy and vital for helping absorb nutrients properly—perfect for getting the most of the fruit and veggies in your smoothies!
Some easy ways to add healthy fats to your smoothies include:
- Coconut water can be a liquid base or frozen as ice cubes if you’re not using frozen fruit
- Nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts or cashews [1-2 tbsp])
- Seeds (e.g., chia, sunflower, flax and walnut [1-2 tbsp])
Remember that healthy fats are still fats, which is why most smoothie recipes only use ½ cup avocado or a couple of tablespoons of nuts or seeds.
Protein helps fill you up and keeps blood sugar levels stable. Some good sources of protein you can add to smoothies include:
- Peanut butter
- Yogurt, especially Greek
- Seeds (e.g., chia and flax [1-2 tbsp])
- Nuts and nut butters (1-2 tbsp)
Foods that are high in fiber will help fill you up, particularly at breakfast time. On a more delicate note, they will also help to keep your bowels regular!
Adding these types of ingredients to your smoothies will give you a fiber boost:
- Seeds (e.g., chia, flax and hemp)
Are Smoothies and Juices Nutritionally Balanced?
Many people think there’s no difference between juices and smoothies. After all, they both contain fruit and/or veggies, right? Juices will give you some key vitamins and minerals and a bit of fiber because of this but they aren’t nutritionally balanced.
They’re a lot like “healthy” smoothie recipes that don’t contain any protein or healthy fats and are heavy on carbohydrates—particularly from sugar. This can lead to sugar crashes and will not fill you up so you’ll probably be hungry quicker than you think.
Having said that, I recently discovered a way to enjoy the best of both worlds. I simply use a freshly squeezed juice as the liquid base for my vegetable smoothie. It adds great flavor and sweetness and a healthy dose of nutrients, but I still get to enjoy the health benefits of the smoothie.
This can be easily done with a combo blender that is designed for both juicing and blending.
Using the right ingredients and choosing from different ingredient groups, you can have a nutritionally balanced smoothie that’s also delicious and made exactly to your taste.
Daniel Pelegreen is a “smoothie guru,” and founder of EasyHealthySmoothie where you’ll discover natural, easy nutrition hacks for maintaining a healthier lifestyle, as well as tackling excess weight, fatigue, and stress. For more recipes and smoothie ideas, follow his Pinterest and Twitter.