Fruit smoothies are usually considered to be very good for the body, providing valuable nutrients while adding only a limited number of calories to your diet. Unfortunately, many smoothie mixes are chocked full of an ingredient that is the exact antithesis of healthy – refined white sugar. Likewise, the smoothies sold in restaurants are similarly loaded with this popular sweetener, as well as copious amounts of saturated fat.
The better alternative is to make your own smoothies from the confines of your kitchen. This doesn’t require all that much work, and yields a tasty drink that promotes good health. Below are some tips that outline which ingredients should be added into your smoothie.
Make Good Use of Your Blender – We’re probably stating the obvious here, but a blender is an essential tool for making a smoothie. Any blender worth its salt should be able to crush the ingredients placed into it.
Choose Sweet-Tasting Fruits – Instead of relying upon sugar, honey or other sweeteners to boost your smoothie’s taste, opt for fruits that and naturally sweet to begin with. Pineapples, mangos, peaches and berries of all types should fit the bill nicely.
Add Protein Into the Mix – Protein? In a fruit smoothie? Yes, though most people associate protein with meaty fare like chicken and beef, this essential nutrient can be easily worked into healthy beverages. One option is to throw some Greek yogurt into your blender. This Hellenic import (“Hellenic” is a term used to describe people and things from Greece – you learn something new every day!) has three times the protein of regular yogurt. While shopping for Greek yogurt, make sure to pick a brand that is low in fat and calories.
Use Cinnamon as a Sweetener – Like protein, you might be surprised by the inclusion of cinnamon on this list, given that this spice is often used to add extra flavor to pastries and sugar-drenched treats. While there is no denying its qualifications as a flavor-enhancer, studies have linked cinnamon to everything from lower blood pressure to reduced arthritis pain. Additional research has found that cinnamon possesses anti-bacterial properties, thereby helping the body to better ward off infection. This spice also features several key nutrients, including iron, calcium, fiber and manganese. Of course, these benefits shouldn’t be taken as an excuse to pour teaspoon after teaspoon of cinnamon into your smoothies; limit your daily consumption to about 6 grams, or 1 ½ teaspoons.
The Awesome Avocado – Avocados tend to get overshadowed by more popular fruits, such as bananas, oranges and apples. While they may not get the press of their fruity counterparts, the nutritional value of avocados clearly earns them a spot in your smoothie mix. Avocados are rich sources of fiber, potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C. The healthy fat content of this fruit can contribute significantly towards lowering bad cholesterol, while simultaneously increasing your levels of good cholesterol.
Milk…From Almonds??? – Milk doesn’t just come from cows. Believe it or not, milk can actually be extracted from almonds. In fact, almond milk is probably sold at the supermarket nearest to your house. Though almond milk might sound like a bit of an odd concoction, many consumers have grown fond of its sweet taste. Almond milk has no saturated fat content, is high in calcium and is sold in many flavors.
Add Some Green Tea – It’s hard to top green tea’s nutritional résumé – this beverage has been linked to better skin health, a more potent immune system and a reduced risk of cancer. And as with almond milk, green tea is sold in many flavors. While browsing the tea aisle, you’re liable to find green tea flavored with blueberries, pomegranate, mint and lemons, among other options.