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When it comes to dieting, smoothies are an tried and true standby. That said, it would be a mistake to think that whipping up a smoothie automatically makes it good for you. Does tossing a banana into a chocolate shake make a healthy smoothie for breakfast? We can only dream, but sadly that ain’t so!

That said, if you’re someone who doesn’t get in the recommended 5-9 servings of fruit and veggies per day, then smoothies are one of the simplest, easiest ways to get you caught up daily. And with only 1 in 10 adults meeting the guidelines for veggie consumption, chances are most of us could use that liquified boost.  

But even the greenest of green smoothies can be a sugary minefield if not done properly.

Recommended serving of fruits and vegetables
Does your plate look like this? For 9 out of 10 people, the answer is 'No'

Benefits of Smoothies

The degree to which smoothies can have a positive impact on your life depends on your answers to the following: Are you eating the recommended daily fruit and vegetable servings? Do you frequently skip meals? Are you nutrient deficient?

If you find that you’re running low on energy or experiencing crashes throughout your day, smoothies are a fantastic supplement to your diet. 

If you’re looking for tips and advice on all things related to food and the best ingredients to incorporate (or avoid) when it comes to whipping up a tasty, nutritious smoothie, be sure to check out our Foodie Corner

Smoothies are packed with nutrients but they also hide boring flavors

A lot of people shy away from green smoothies because they think it’ll taste like the bottom of a mossy forest floor. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. You can throw in a ton of other helpful ingredients to mask or transform the flavor into something that’s more to your fancy. 

That’s actually a big part of the appeal of smoothies in general. Instead of eating pure spinach, blend those leafy greens with some fun flavors, like peanut butter and banana. Although the health benefit of that spinach is still there, you’re more likely to taste the other ingredients, plus you get the protein of the peanut butter and the potassium of the banana.

Avo-pino smoothie
Be creative: Hide that spinach with some yummy flavors!

Smoothies can help you digest food faster

When it comes to certain vegetables, we tend to eat them because we know they’re good for us and have high health benefits. But for some people, eating those foods can be tough on their digestive system. If you’re someone who deals with inflammation on a frequent basis or have trouble digesting your food, blending can help take the load off your digestive system by doing some of the work for it.

With smoothies, making a balanced meal isn’t too difficult

Assuming that you’re making your smoothie at home, you have full control over what and how much goes into it. On a low carb diet? No problem. Just tailor that smoothie to your needs by using more vegetables and sources of fat/protein to make up for the fruit you’re unable to use. And if you’re someone who uses supplements such as collagen in your daily life, same deal. Just toss a scoop of your collagen into that smoothie and start your day .

Smoothies are quick and portable

If you’re a regular meal skipper, smoothies make it harder to find an excuse not to eat. They can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for future snacks to-go. If you’re skipping meals, whether it be because you’re pressed for time or you’re using it as some sort of dieting technique, you could be unnecessarily taxing your body. For one thing, without the right balance of nutrients and vitamins, you’re going to feel less energetic as you go through your day. Plus, if that darn coworker brought doughnuts into the break room and you skipped breakfast, statistically you’re more likely to give into your cravings and indulge in that sugary ball of regret. That cycle of skipping breakfast only to give into cravings later is what’s called a yo-yo diet. Yo-yo diets are bad news as they can wreak havoc on your metabolism and makes it even harder to maintain your weight.

What kind of blenders should be used for smoothies?

If you’re looking for a blender that can get the job done when it comes to smoothies, you’ll want one that can preferably handle a variety of ingredients, from fibrous leafy greens to hard seeds. That generally means stainless steel blades and a strong, reliable motor with high speed capability. That’s the absolute baseline.

However everyone has individual preferences, whether it’s the type of ingredients you like to use, how creamy you like your smoothies or how much you wish to make at a tine. It all depends on your lifestyle. To give you an ‘at a glance’ look, we’ve summarized some the more popular attributes that consumers tend to look for when shopping for blenders. And we give you our recommendation for which blenders should be near the top of your shopping list depending, based on the category.

Best Quiet Blender

There’s no getting around it, blenders are noisy machines. The only way to get something quieter is if build quality gets kicked up a few notches. Sealed enclosures and rubber-mounted components can make a big difference in sound dampening, but also cause a big hit to your wallet. 

Case in point: the Blendtec Professional 800 Blender. It’s certainly not cheap, but its uncompromising build quality and Sound Enclosure leaves it standing at the front of the pack as the most quiet yet powerful blender you could ask for. 

That said, there are several other quiet-blender alternatives that make a solid case without draining the wallet as much. 

The Blendtec Pro 800
The Blendtec Pro 800: Our favorite quiet blender that also happens to be powerful

Best Portable Blender 

The portable blender game is a competitive one, with several viable options currently on the market. However the PopBabies Portable Blender sits at the top of the heap because of its appealing combination of a low price point, good build quality and ultra portability. It’s not going to go toe to toe against a full-size blender in terms of raw power, but it’s capable enough.

While it was originally marketed to blend baby food, its rechargeable base along with its ability to bust frozen fruits and veggies has made it a favourite for adults on the go.  It’s quiet in operation which makes it office friendly, and it’s also dishwasher safe. In fact, because of its handy USB port it makes a compelling case as a travel buddy. Especially if you’re doing business trips and trying to stay healthy at the same time. 

PopBabies best for people on the go
Yes it was originally for blending baby food, but its also perfect for us grown ups!

Best Blender on a Budget

It may not be able to heat up soups or make large batches of smoothies in one go, but personal blenders such as the Nutri Ninja can be the perfect bang for your buck. It whips up creamy concoctions, is a breeze to set up and clean up, and you don’t have to sell a kidney to acquire it. 

Our favourite feature of the Nutri Ninja has got to be its beefy 900W motor being housed in such a space-saving footprint. Great for smaller kitchens and apartments

There are other blenders such as the NutriBullet that also make a serious case as something to consider in this category. In fact, check out our write-up where we compare these two legendary brands to see which one is the right one for you. 

Nutri Ninja mini blender
Good things can come in small packages!

Should Smoothies Be Used For Weight Loss?

They can be. But it needs to be done correctly for positive results to be seen. If you’re planning on turning to smoothies to diet and lose some weight, you’ll want to be careful how you do this. A common misconception is that all smoothies are healthy, but like any meal the level of healthiness really depends on the ingredients used. 

How healthy is a McDonalds smoothie?
Guess how much sugar is in a Strawberry Banana Smoothie? | Source: McDonald's

A Real World Example of a ‘Healthy’ Smoothie

Grabbing a strawberry and banana fruit smoothie from McDonald’s might seem like a healthier alternative to a burger because it has less calories, but it’s important to keep in mind that calories aren’t everything. When it comes to a healthy diet, controlling your sugar intake is just as important, if not more so.

That small strawberry banana McDonalds smoothie will add up to a whopping 39 grams of sugar. For reference, it’s recommended that women consume less than 22 grams and men less than 37.5 grams of sugar per day.

If you’re thinking that these sugars come from natural sources such as fruits and are therefore fine to eat, well then you’d be falling for a very common misconception. Both artificial sugars and sugars from natural sources are processed the same way. Both start as sucrose and are broken down into glucose and fructose by the body. Glucose can be metabolized by any cell in the body, but not fructose. Fructose can only be handled by the liver, which is where the problem lies.

The liver doesn’t know if that fructose came from a pie or from an apple. That being said, the way the liver processes fructose can be affected by other factors. For instance, fruit contains bioactive components such as fibre, which can aid in the liver’s ability to process sugar.

Returning to the McDonald’s example, it’s highly unlikely that those 39 grams of sugar comes from fruit alone. A single banana is responsible for approximately 3 grams of fibre. Blending up whole fruits should maintain this fibre but somehow the strawberry banana smoothie only has 2 grams of fibre! If the smoothie is lacking in the fiber that’s typically found when using whole fruits, it’s more than likely that it’s not using whole fruits and therefore the sugar is probably artificial.

Sugar can lead to a lot of health issues. It can lead to major metabolic problems and unhealthy weight gain is one end result. But it can also lead to heart disease. Fructose turns into droplets of fat called triglycerides which enter the bloodstream. It also lowers HDL, which is the kind of cholesterol that we want more of. Coupled together, those issues can severely raise your risk of heart disease.

Do It Yourself!

You’re a lot better off making your own smoothies if you want to try to lose weight. Even then, you should still be cautious. It’s easy to fall into the trap of just putting things into your smoothies without thinking about caloric or sugar intake. A peanut butter and banana smoothie sounds delicious and nutritious, but if you’re not measuring your tablespoons of peanut butter, you might unintentionally be cancelling out the desired health benefit.

Another common issue with using smoothies as a weight loss tool is that many smoothies don’t always leave you feeling full. This increases the chance of you snacking soon afterwards, even if you just used a smoothie as a meal replacement. Our bodies consider chewing to be a part of the digestive process. By drinking a meal, our brains don’t get the signal that we receive when chewing solid food to notify us to stop eating. Because that signal doesn’t happen when drinking smoothies, the body can get confused and we are therefore more likely to get the hunger signal sooner instead.

How to stop feeling so hungry on a diet
You don't always have to feel hungry when using smoothies as a meal replacement!

There is a way around this issue. It all depends on what you put in your smoothie. As much as we look to green smoothies as the gold standard of healthy smoothies, that’s not completely true. If you’re just putting a bunch of kale and spinach and other vegetables into your blender, you’re going to get hungry again, very fast.

In order to be satiated, you need to also include protein in your smoothies. Protein helps to slow the digestion process, which is what controls whether you feel hungry again or not. So when you make that smoothie, always make sure to leave room for some protein in addition to your fruits and vegetables. Protein powders are one way to go, but you can also use things like nut butters, Greek yogurt, or flax seed to help build up your protein intake. If possible, ideally you should use a couple sources of protein instead of just one.

And don’t forget about fat either! Contrary to popular belief, fat isn’t something to turn away from. In comparison to sugar, monounsaturated fat can actually lower your risk of heart disease. You can get this kind of fat from most nuts and avocados, which can easily be added to a smoothie. The other good kind of fat is polyunsaturated, which is needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. Our body actually can’t make this type of fat, but it’s necessary for survival. You can find polyunsaturated fat in most seeds, nuts and nut butters, all of which can be added to a smoothie.

Recommended breakdown of protein fats and carbs
Source: blog.myfitnesspal.com

When we think about weight loss, we often think about taking things away, like sugar and calories, but the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to give our bodies the things that we need like healthy fats and protein. Smoothies can be a great vehicle for these crucial elements of our diet, as long as we approach it in an informed and scientific way.

At the same time, be careful not to use smoothies as a crutch. Just because you’re drinking more smoothies, don’t forget that diet is only one part of the weight loss equation. If you’re not burning calories in addition to consuming them, even if you’re eating healthier if there is no daily calorie deficit you will not lose weight.

Should Smoothies Be Used as a Meal Replacement?

Whether or not you choose to use a smoothie as a meal replacement comes down to what you intend on putting in that smoothie and where it came from. If you grabbed it from a fast food place thinking it’s a healthier alternative to anything else on the menu, you’re probably in for a pretty rude surprise (see the McDonald’s smoothie example above). You also run the risk of overshooting your recommended daily sugar intake and to make matters worse, will likely end up hungry shortly after drinking that sugary bomb.

Smoothies as a replacement for meals
With the right ingredients, smoothies can become a nutritious powerhouse

If you’re planning on using a smoothie as a quick and easy meal replacement, try your best to have it coming from your own kitchen. It’s the only surefire way you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your body. And although it may seem like a good idea to simply blend up a bunch of vegetables, that by itself is not necessarily a great meal replacement. Whether you’re drinking your food from a shaker cup or eating from a plate, a healthy meal should contain a few key elements.

Fruits and/or vegetables should be included of course, but it’s important to realize which of them works best. If you are looking to replace a whole meal, it’s essential that you’re getting enough fibre. Skimping on fiber means being hungrier faster and a meal should be able to fill you up enough that you can make it to your next meal without the overwhelming urge to snack.

Chocolate is a good source of fibre
Add it to your smoothie! Dark Chocolate is a great source of fibre

Fruits like pears, apples, berries, and avocados can provide that crucial fibre boost to your smoothie. So can vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and beets.

If you want your fibre intake to the next level, try also adding chia seeds. 

Also, believe it or not, quality dark chocolate is a great source of fibre! So feel free to treat yourself to a little guilt-free chocolatey goodness in your next smoothie.

Although some people choose to forgo dairy altogether, it’s recommended by the USDA that your average meal contains at least some dairy or a dairy substitute. If your diet isn’t lactose-friendly, consider blending your smoothie with alternatives such as almond or soy milk. Just be sure to go for the unsweetened and unflavored versions.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of dairy-free milk substitutes, as well as some delicious non-milk based recipes, check this out.

The key nutritional components that are often overlooked in a smoothie are fats and protein. It’s such a shame that the word ‘fat’ has such a negative connotation in our diets. It’s been a standard belief for far too long that people should follow low-fat diets. But the reality is that we need healthy fats in order to keep our bodies functioning properly. There are easy ways to include a little healthy fat in our smoothies, like adding an avocado or nut butter.

Similarly, protein is crucial for our body’s health. Although it’s a common misconception that protein is just for developing muscles, it is also essential for healthy hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, and enzymes. It’s recommended that we get 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. If you’re replacing multiple meals with smoothies and not adding in sources of protein, it’s likely that you will could become deficient in the nutrient – so don’t be shy!

Replacing Breakfast With a Smoothie

We’ve spent most of our lives being told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But nutrition science can sometimes be a fickle beast! New studies are starting to challenge the old classic standbys. At the very least, we’re discovering there is more than just one approach to living a healthy lifestyle.

More than anything else, it’s because people’s bodies are inherently different. What works for one person may not work for another. If you’re an intermittent faster who never eats breakfast anymore, maybe that works incredibly well for you. 

Many people that use intermittent fasting actually have more energy and use it to effectively lose weight, all while skipping ‘the most important meal of the day’. But for others, it’s the exact opposite; without a proper breakfast their day is not nearly as productive as it could be. The human body is a complex machine, and we need to pay attention to our own body’s unique needs, and not just the latest diet guru’s commandments.

Can you replace breakfast with a smoothie?
Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

If you’re not typically a breakfast fan, adding smoothies to your morning routine might not be a top priority for you. However if you do eat breakfast and need to figure out a way to up your nutrition game, smoothies are a pretty solid option.

This is particularly true if you’re someone who often can’t find the time to have breakfast. Need to be at a meeting for 9am but regularly wake up at 8am because of late night Netflix binge watching? Cooking eggs will probably have you running late.

Skipping breakfast when you haven’t already made a habit of skipping the meal can leave you feeling lethargic throughout the day and put your mind in a fog during that big meeting. Blending up a smoothie  allows you to eat on the go, because let’s face it: you’re probably not going to bed any earlier!

Most people’s impression of breakfast smoothies is something that is packed with a ton of fruit. That is because for whatever reason we don’t associate breakfast with vegetables. It’s normal to see a side of fruit come with your french toast. But why not a side of spinach?

Remember, having too much fruit isn’t ideal as it can really up your daily sugar intake. Try to look for smoothie recipes hat have a high amount of vegetables in the mix.

With that in mind, here are a few examples of some smoothies that kick butt for breakfast:

Recipe for creamy spinach breakfast smoothie

Berry Nice Spinach Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup of vanilla almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach
  • ½ cup of frozen mixed berries
  • 1 Tbsp of flaxseed
  • 1 heaped Tbsp of almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 1 banana

This recipe is a great example of a green smoothie that’s well balanced and can help kick your morning off right. Play around with the amount of almond milk you use to adjust the consistency to your liking.

Apple avocado smoothie recipe

Avocapple Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup of vanilla almond milk (unsweetened)
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 whole apple (cored and sliced)
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach
  • ½ banana
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ ground ginger + optional: chia seeds
  • Handful of ice cubes

Not only is this a great morning smoothie, but if you’ve had a particularly social night before, it’s a great detox drink. It’s high in fibre and healthy fats.

Strawberry Tangerine breakfast smoothie recipe

Strawberry Tangerine Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup coconut water
  • ½ cup of fresh or frozen strawberries (about 4 whole berries)
  • ½ tangerine (peeled and seeded)
  • ¼ inch of fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp raw hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Beets are high in fibre, and if you grab a smaller one it won’t have as bitter a taste. Even if it is bitter, that should be overshadowed by the sweetness of the fruit.

How About Smoothies for Dessert?

Got a sweet tooth? Find it hard to end the day without a little treat? Good news: smoothies can be a fantastic substitute if you’re willing to exercise a bit of will power will still scratching that itch.

As always, be mindful of what ingredients you add to those smoothies. If you want something sweet, rely on fruit as much as possible instead of going for artificial sugars. But remember, even with fruit it’s possible to go overboard as too many natural sugars aren’t great for us either.

Good breakfast smoothies
Who needs ice cream when you could have something this refreshing?

When making a dessert smoothie, since it’s less likely to be vegetable based and sweeter than a breakfast smoothie, go for a smaller portion size than you normally would have. 

Here are a few examples of smoothies that work for a healthy yet delicious dessert:

Healthy banana dessert smoothie recipe

Banana Fundae Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-large sized banana (sliced and frozen in advance)
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 0.5 tbsp salted almond butter (if unsalted, add a pinch of sea salt)
  • ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional (but delicious!): 2 pitted dates

Who doesn’t love a good banana split? Well too bad, you’re trying to be healthy. This smoothie skips the sundae part but no sacrificing taste here! And if you have them handy, don’t forget on the pitted dates – we highly recommend it.

Black forest smoothie recipe

Black Forest Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • ½ frozen pitted cherries
  • Drizzle honey to taste

Black forest cake is decadent but so is this smoothie. And the best part? This smoothie is healthy enough that you can have it a whole lot more often than that cake.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie healthy recipe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1.5 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • Handful of ice cubes

Perhaps one of the most common dessert smoothies, the chocolate peanut butter smoothie is a go-to favorite because those two flavors marry so well together. This recipe is quick, easy and filling with the right amount of sweet.

Smoothies as a Midday Snack

It’s important to keep in mind that a smoothie used as a meal replacement isn’t the same as one you would whip up for a snack. You should be getting the majority of your calories from your meals – the snacks are there to tide you over in between.

If you’re drinking snack smoothies of the same size and calorie density as your meal replacement smoothies, you could be overdoing it. Here are a few options for some snack-friendly smoothies that are filling yet low on calories.

Strawberry cottage cheese smoothie

Strawberry Cottage Cheese Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • ½ banana 
  • ½ Hood cottage cheese with Strawberry
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup of milk (cow or almond milk – your choice)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Cottage cheese with berries is a pretty common snack. This option is basically that snack, but blended up with a few extra treats: banana and vanilla, and it totally tastes like a milkshake!

Vegan pumpkin smoothie recipe

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen medium banana 
  • ¼ cup of pumpkine pureé
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp maple syrup

This smoothie is a great energy boost during that afternoon slump. Plus, having pumpkin as a base means that you’re filling up on fiber, making you less likely to want to snack on that break room candy bowl. 

Does Juicing Have the Same Benefits as Smoothies?

Not exactly. Juicing is very different from making a smoothie and one is not necessarily better than the other. It’s all dependent upon what you want your drink to do for you.

Juicing is not a meal substitute. We often hear about cleanses and how juicing is an essential part of them, but don’t mistake a cleanse from drinking a full day’s worth of calories and nutrients.

When we juice fruits and vegetables, we leave behind all of the pulp, which is actually what contains most of the fibre and a lot of the nutrients that are good for us. Fibre is important to our diet and it’s a tool that we can use to help keep us fuller, longer. So with juicing, we potentially end up throwing out the part of the fruits and vegetables that are healthiest.

is juicing or smoothies healthier
To juice or not to juice?

When you make a smoothie however, you don’t just extract the juice from the fruit. Blending the entire fruit allows you to preserve the fibre and all those good nutrients. As a bonus, most smoothies encourage you to use other ingredients that help round out the nutritional value. Milks and nut butters help to create a much more balanced meal than strictly juicing.

If you’re not looking to replace a meal and you just want a nice cup of something other than water, there’s nothing wrong with juicing. In fact, juicing at home is a much healthier alternative to buying juice in a store. Store bought juices often contain added sugar and preservatives. Just keep in mind that you’re not getting the same benefits to your apple juice as you would if you actually ate a full apple.

Can Smoothies Be Used for a Cleanse?

Cleanses come in all types of forms, and are often billed as “detoxifying” . Cleanses first came into the public eye thanks to the Master Cleanse and since then, many other variations have popped up.

When we hear about cleanses, we often hear that they help us rid our body of toxins. The reality is that our bodies do not need the assistance of a cleanse to get rid of toxins. The liver, kidneys, and lungs all do that for us. What we can do is assist these organs by consuming a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in fibre. 

For that reason, yes, smoothies can be used in a “cleanse” to the extent that we should consume smoothies with a high concentration of fruits and vegetables, particularly vegetables that are rich in fibre.

Can you do a cleanse with smoothies
Is long term weight loss the goal? Then skip the 'Master Cleanse'

But beware of trying to sustain yourself strictly on smoothies. The reason why cleanses are so popular is because they can promote quick weight loss. Sounds nice in theory right?

The reality for most of this weight loss is losing water weight. And unless you’re drinking smoothies that are packed with protein, you’re probably also losing lean tissue mass, as muscle starts being broken down for fuel. This effectively results in you increasing your fat to lean muscle ratio. No good!

If you’re using a cleanse for dietatic purposes, your goal is definitely not to lose muscle mass. Even worse, that muscle mass breakdown results in nitrogen compounds that need to now be excreted from your body. If you’re not taking in enough calories for an extended period of time (such as during a long cleanse), you start making ‘ketones’, which is a buzzword you might recognize from the popular keto diet.

But ketones are acidic substances that cannot stay in your body. They’re acidic fuel substitutes, and if they aren’t flushed out, they can cause a loss of minerals, like calcium from your bones. In other words, going on a cleanse for any extended period of time, can actually do more harm than good to your body.

Smoothies vs Juicing for Cleansing

If you’re going to do some kind of cleanse, you’re better off doing a short one and stick with smoothies, not juicing. At the bare minimum your goal should be to use this time to focus on eating mindfully and using nutritious ingredients. If you’re juicing, you lose all the health benefits from vegetables and fruits that we talked about earlier (e.g. fibre).

With smoothies, you know those benefits stay in the glass. And don’t forget that your body also needs calories for energy. Depriving yourself fully of calories isn’t a healthy way to spend a few days. Compared to juicing, smoothies have higher calories because they keep more ingredients intact, and those ingredients can up the calorie count in a way that juice extraction cannot.

That being said, remember to pay attention to what you’re putting into your smoothies so you don’t accidentally overdo those calories. 

What are the Best Smoothies for Cleansing?

If you want to try a cleanse, certain ingredients will be better than others. Generally if you’re looking to do an effective cleanse, look for high fibre foods as they are particularly good for your digestion. Here’s a few examples of smoothies that would be good for a quick cleanse.

Lemon kale drink for cleansing

Lemon Kale Cleanser Smoothie

 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mango cubed (Optional: frozen)
  • ½ banana
  • ¼ peeled lemon (or juiced)

Lemons are actually a great way to help your digestion and relieve constipation. They’re also high in vitamin C, which pulls water into your gut, helping to keep you more regular. When you’re talking about a reliable cleanse, lemons are the real deal.

Pineapple detox cleanse

The Pineapple Detox

 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup pineapple (chopped)
  • ½ cucumber
  • ½ lemon
  • 6 dates

This is another smoothie that relies on lemons to help you detox, as well as dates, which is another great aid for digestion. Pineapple is there to help reduce inflammation and help with recovery time, making this a gym-goers’ smoothie fave.

What are the Most Popular Smoothie Ingredients and Are They Actually Good for You?

You’ve likely already noticed a trend in what kind of ingredients show up in smoothies. There’s often a lot of overlap as far as what ingredients are good regardless of what your goal is. For instance, you might have noticed that spinach and other leafy green vegetables tend to show up in nearly ever health goal, from weight loss to energy boosting smoothies. 

But does that mean that these common ingredients are all good for us? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ingredients and break down how much you should actually be incorporating into your smoothie for maximum benefit. And if it’s specifically vegetables that you’re interested in, be sure to check out our article where we rank the best vegetables for smoothies.

Spinach

In most green smoothies, you’ll probably see spinach somewhere in the recipe. And there’s a good reason for that. It’s hard to overdo eating spinach. There’s no downside to tossing this vegetable into your drink. It’s got vitamin K for bone health, vitamin A for skin and hair growth, vitamin C for immunity boosting and heart health, and magnesium and folate for energy. It’s very low in calories and the flavor is easily disguised by adding a few fruits to the mix. Tossing in a few handfuls of spinach to any smoothie gives it an automatic health boost.

Baby spinach in smoothies
Combine spinach with sweeter fruits, such as mangos, oranges, blueberries and apples

Bananas

Bananas are a classic standby when it comes to smoothies. Banana and peanut butter smoothies are almost always on the list of breakfast or lunch smoothies. We tend to love the flavors together and you can hide any number of green veggies underneath that delicious combination.

But bananas show up in a lot of different smoothies. There are plenty of benefits when it comes to bananas, like boosting your metabolism, recovering from tough workouts, and refueling when your energy dips. That being said, some people put bananas on the list of fruits to avoid because they’re higher in natural sugars and contain more calories than, say, a scoop of berries.

If it’s less sugar you’re targeting, then it’s likely best not to put a banana in every smoothie you drink. If you are going to include a banana, keep in mind that you should avoid adding too many other ingredients that are higher in calories and sugar.

Peanut butter for smoothies
Tip: Get 'natural peanut butter' if you can - it comes with no added sugars or veggie oils

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter and bananas just go together well. But is peanut butter a healthy ingredient to put in your smoothies? Well nut butters in general are high in healthy fats and protein. If you’re looking to replace a meal with a smoothie, nut butters can be a simple way to make sure you’re getting a more balanced meal. However, go for almond butter or natural peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter, which contains added sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Milk

Most smoothies use some sort of milk as a base. The argument over whether or not milk is good for you has been around for a long time. There’s tons of vitamins and minerals in milk and it’s been linked to bone and teeth health, heart health, and diabetes prevention.

That being said, it’s also been linked to risk for skin conditions, inflammation, and certain types of cancers. And, of course, some people are just allergic to milk in general. All in all, there are benefits and risks to drinking dairy milk and it’s up to you if you believe the benefits outweigh the risks. There are other alternatives to cow’s milk out there to try instead, like soy, almond, or oat milk.

Just be sure that if you’re getting these alternatives, you’re getting the unsweetened variety so that you can avoid added sugars. For that same reason, you should avoid flavored versions of your milk subsitute (like chocolate or even vanilla). If you wouldn’t drink several glasses of chocolate milk all day long, you wouldn’t be much better off drinking several glasses of chocolate almond milk either!

Berries

Different types of berries contain different types of properties. Some are better for immune boosting, for example darker berries such as blackberries and blueberries. And others are better for boosting your metabolism, like raspberries. That being said, berries are low calorie and high in fiber and are easy to throw into most smoothie recipes. They add a lot of flavor and a lot of nutritional value, but many of them, particularly blackberries and strawberries, have a low amount of sugar as well.

Berries are great in smoothies
The darker the berry, the better for you!

Chocolate

Who doesn’t love a little chocolate in their smoothie? It’s a delicious way to add a little sweetness to your drink. That being said, always reach for that dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants. Not only that, it contains plenty of fibre as well as the good kinds of fat, helping you raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad one. It even has a high percentage of vitamins like iron, magnesium, and potassium.

But, if dark chocolate has lots of potassium, does that mean you can substitute a banana with dark chocolate? Sorry, you can’t (but nice try!). While dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate, there’s still sugar in there. It’s also not a low calorie food. If you’re putting a bar of chocolate into every smoothie, you’re overdoing it and the health benefits are offset by your sugar consumption. Chocolate should always be consumed in moderation.

Protein powder in your daily shake
Not all protein powders are created equal!

Protein Powder

For a lot of people, protein powder is a must when it comes to whipping up that power shake to tackle the day. But not all protein powders are created equal. Overall, protein powders can help you burn fat and boost muscle growth, as long as you’re also working out. Powders can also help repair the damaged muscle and tissues that come from strenuous workouts.

But pay attention to your nutrition labels. Many protein powders also contain added sugars. Some protein powders are also milk-based so, if you’re lactose intolerant, make sure you’re not accidentally picked up something that’ll wreak havoc on your digestive system.

It’s also important to note that protein powders are a supplement. That means that the FDA does not evaluate the safety and labeling of the product. It’s up to the manufacturer to do that. Something which may not be ideal. In 2018, a nonprofit group released a report about toxins in protein powders. They found that, after screening 134 products for 130 types of toxins, many were found to contain heavy metals, BPA, and pesticides, all of which have links to cancers and other health conditions – including heart disease. 

So if you want to use protein powders, know that there might be healthier options out there. It just requires a bit of homework to find additional ways to add more natural protein into your diet, like by adding nuts and beans.

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