Are Fruit Smoothies Good for You?

strawberry smoothie
A strawberry smoothie surrounded by whole and halved strawberries. (Image: DENIO RIGACCI/iStock/Getty Images)

The simplest fruit smoothies require just a blender, a splash of liquid and some fruit. To drink a smoothie in place of a meal, you'll need to add some protein and fat. Whether a smoothie is good for you depends on the ingredients it contains and the portion your serve yourself.

Smoothie Benefits

Many people don't eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Making a fruit smoothie is an easy way to increase your produce consumption, because these drinks often contain multiple servings of fruit and sometimes vegetables as well. Unlike fruit juice, smoothies also provide fiber, because you use the whole edible portion of the fruit. Fruit smoothies typically contain significant amounts of folate, vitamin C and potassium, because fruits are good sources of these nutrients. These smoothies can also provide other essential nutrients. For example, you get protein and calcium from your smoothie if it contains yogurt or milk.

Sugar Situation

Many store-bought or restaurant smoothies contain added sugar, which increases the calories without increasing the nutrients in the smoothies. The total sugar content of these beverages, including the natural sugars from the fruit, tends to be between 20 and 33 grams per serving, unless they are artificially sweetened. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 24 grams per day for women and no more than 36 grams per day for men. Making your own smoothie allows you to reduce or eliminate added sugars in your drink to make it healthier.

Watch Your Serving Size

You can easily consume too many calories if you drink very large smoothies, especially if you get your smoothie from a smoothie shop. Check the calorie content before ordering, and order the smallest size, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Limit the amount of high-calorie add-ins you use when making smoothies at home to keep the calorie content under control.

Nutritious Ingredients

Don't limit yourself to fruit when you make your smoothie. Add vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, greens or beets, to increase the nutrients in your smoothie without adding many calories. Include a source of healthy fat, such as nuts, nut butter, avocado, flax or chia seeds. This fat will help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in your smoothie. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu or milk can increase the protein content of your smoothie and make it more filling. Oatmeal will add fiber and thicken your smoothie, and unsweetened cocoa powder will increase the amount of beneficial plant chemicals called flavanols.

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