Learning how to make smoothies healthy is an invaluable skill that will stand the test of time. Sure, it’s easy to pick up a smoothie in a supermarket or at a smoothie bar, but if you look at the nutritional value, you’re guaranteed to find that they have extortionate levels of sugar that are bound to induce a blood sugar spike. Hazard a guess as to how many teaspoons of sugar are in a 250ml serving of a seemingly healthy smoothie?

Here, we teach you the essentials when it comes to making a healthy smoothie, the common mistakes people make when building a smoothie and the best ingredients to add to meet your protein, fat and carbohydrate targets. You’ll have much more fun, choice and taste when you make your own smoothie. As a bonus, you’ll discover the shocking amount of sugar that is hidden in manufactured smoothies.

As a word of warning, you may be turned off store-bought smoothies for life! Read on to find out this, plus much more! I’m sure your waistline and your wallet will thank you for it.

How to make smoothies healthy - Jars of fruit smoothies on a table with fruit

Common smoothie mistakes

Adding too much fat: Yes, it’s important to include healthy sources of fat in the diet and fat shouldn’t be feared. However, obtaining the necessary amount of fat is rather easy as they tend to be dense foods. Consequently, people often add too much fat-based ingredients, and the calories can start to spike. Generally, a tablespoon of seeds or nut butter will provide sufficient quantities of fat for a meal. Just remember to measure portions if you are rigorously tracking calories or watching your macros.

Adding too much fruit: The merits of including fruit in the diet are endless, from providing sources of antioxidants to fibre and nutrients; let’s not forget that fruit is a healthy natural sweet treat too. With that in mind, it’s important to be conscious that fruit can be high in sugar, particularly the likes of bananas and pineapples. Avoid a sugar spike by adding 1 portion of fruit. If you’re mixing fruits, opt for a cup of mixed fruits as your serving guide.

Tip: Use the freshest ingredients as possible, especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables. This will not only enhance the flavour, a greater nutrient content is also likely to be present in fresher foods.

Avoiding vegetables: Don’t be afraid to include some vegetables in your smoothie. It’s a fantastic way to increase your 5 a day, and the best part is you often won’t even detect the taste as it’s camouflaged by the other ingredients. Vegetables are often low in sugar and calories and provide important micronutrients. Kale and banana is a popular choice of smoothie that is fruit and vegetable based. Try adding a handful of spinach or kale to your next smoothie to test the theory!

Portion control: Some people will guzzle a smoothie as simply a drink alongside their breakfast or main meal. What they neglect to consider is that smoothies can contain a substantial amount of macronutrients and calories, so much so that a serving of a smoothie often constitutes a meal in itself. Take this into consideration when you are planning your meal and smoothie portions to ensure that you don’t overindulge or eat outside of your food plan.

Tip: Serving your blended smoothie in a bowl may give you the impression that it’s a meal as opposed to just a drink. This also allows you to consume it in a more mindful fashion.
How to make smoothies healthy - Strawberry smoothies in glass jars with metal straws

Protein

  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Milk
  • Non-dairy milk:
  • Protein powder: Flavoured protein powders add extra taste to the smoothie, e.g. vanilla, raspberry, cinnamon, chocolate.

Tip: Opt for low-fat versions of these foods if you’re trying to reduce calories or fat content of the smoothie.

Vegan ingredients:

  • Chickpeas
  • Hemp protein
  • Red lentils
  • Pea protein powder
  • Quinoa
  • Silken tofu
  • Soy beans
  • Spirulina: An excellent source of nutrients and adds vibrant colour to your smoothie too!
  • Split peas
  • Vegan greek yoghurt

Tip: Hemp protein and quinoa contains all 9 of the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.

How to make smoothies healthy - Woman pouring scoop of protein powder into shaker

Fat

  • Avocado
  • Coconut milk
  • Nut butters
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Tip: Nuts and seeds can be added either before blending or after blending if you fancy an extra crunchy texture.

How to make smoothies healthy - Person holding smoothie glass topped with chia seeds and lemon

Carbohydrate

Fruit:

  • Apple
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Cucumber
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Tip: Hold back some of the chopped fruit from being blended and instead use it to garnish the smoothie as a topping.

Did you know? Some store-bought smoothies contain as much as 15g sugar per 150ml; that’s equivalent to almost 4 teaspoons of sugar! Plus, if you drink the whole bottle (which is rather compact in size and considered 3 servings by the manufacturer), you’ll have swallowed a staggering 45g sugar, or almost 11 teaspoons of sugar! Remember, the World Health Organisation recommends a maximum of 5 – 10 teaspoons of free sugar per day, so you would be immediately over your sugar limit for the entire day.

How to make smoothies healthy - pink smoothies topped with frozen blackberries in mason jars

Vegetables:

  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini

Tip: Add grains to your smoothie if you want to bulk it up or make the smoothie a substantial meal, e.g. oats, a sprinkle of granola once it’s blended.

How to make smoothies healthy - Green vegetable smoothie in bottle with kale

Flavourings

  • Almond extract
  • Cacao powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Coconut milk
  • Flavour drops
  • Ginger
  • Lemon slice
  • Low calorie or low sugar syrups
  • Matcha powder
  • Stevia
  • Tumeric
  • Vanilla extract

Tip: Fruit juice is often included in the ingredients to enhance the sweetness. Eliminate it entirely if you can and substitute it with the above flavourings. If you can’t bring yourself to eliminate fruit juice, at least minimise the amount of fruit juice that you add to the smoothie, as it does contain a substantial amount of sugar.

How to make smoothies healthy - Smoothies in mason jars topped with cacao

Now that you know the healthy ingredients to make a smoothie, you’ll need to be equipped with the right kitchen tools to whip up a tasty smoothie in minutes. Put the ‘smooth’ into smoothie with this Personal Mini Blender Electric Mixer with 2 Travel Sport Bottles. Nobody wants a lumpy, stringy smoothie, and this blender will cut right through those lumps. Not only is it one of the best-selling Amazon blenders, it’s also an Amazon Choice product, has excellent reviews, comes with 2 bottles for convenience and is easy to use and clean. My personal blender is one of the most used gadgets in my kitchen; plus the fact I don’t have to clean an extra jug is a life-saver, especially if you’re like me and you hate cleaning gadgets!

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Summary

  • Decide if your smoothie is a meal or a side to a meal when dispensing portions
  • Avoid adding excess fruit to your smoothie as it can cause a sugar spike
  • Store-bought smoothies can contain high quantities of sugar, especially if their primary ingredient is fruit
  • Avoid adding fruit juice to smoothies to limit the sugar content
  • Aim to include at least 1 serving of vegetables in your smoothie, e.g. a handful of kale, 1 carrot
  • A single serving of fat is often sufficient as it is a dense food, e.g. 1 tablespoon chia seeds or 1 tablespoon of nut butter
  • Adding a handful of ice cubes is a healthy way to bulk up your smoothie and increase your water consumption

Smoothies are an easy and convenient way to get your nutrients in, especially if you’re in a rush. What’s great about smoothies is that they can all be transformed into a meal simply by serving them as a smoothie bowl, which are all the rage now. Additionally, there are so many varieties of smoothie to choose from that you should never feel stuck in a rut when it comes to flavours. Smoothies can even function as a healthy dessert if you opt for chocolate-flavoured smoothies.

Now that you know how to make a healthy smoothie, why stop there? The unfortunate truth is that there are many other drinks that you are probably consuming that are putting your health at risk. Stop sabotaging your health and your waistline with the best low calorie beverages – cut 100+ calories per drink. If you drink anything other than water, this is a must-read!

I hope you enjoyed the article and found inspiration for healthy smoothie ingredients to use. I’d love to hear your opinion and thoughts on the article. What’s your favourite flavour smoothie? Do you prefer smoothies or smoothie bowls? Do the green smoothies look too healthy for you? Have you tried chocolate smoothies before or do you stick to the traditional strawberry and banana flavours? Please share your thoughts below.

How to make smoothies healthy - Smoothie bowl topped with banana, chai seeds and strawberries

Sources

Cassetty, S., 2019. How To Build A Better Smoothie, According To A Nutritionist. [online] NBC News. Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/how-build-better-smoothie-according-nutritionist-ncna874006  [Accessed 19 July 2020].

Goodrum, T., 2020. 31 Sneaky Veggie-Filled Smoothies. [online] Greatist. Available at: https://greatist.com/eat/veggie-smoothie-recipes#tl-dr [Accessed 19 July 2020].

Honey, M., 2016. 6 Healthy Superfood Smoothies – Modern Honey. [online] Modern Honey. Available at: https://www.modernhoney.com/6-healthy-superfood-smoothies/  [Accessed 19 July 2020].

Julson, E., 2018. Hemp Protein Powder: The Best Plant-Based Protein?. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/hemp-protein-powder#:~:text=Hemp%20is%20a%20high%2Dquality,fiber%2C%20healthy%20fats%20and%20minerals. [Accessed 19 July 2020].

Petre, A., 2016. The 17 Best Protein Sources For Vegans And Vegetarians. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians#section9 [Accessed 19 July 2020].

Tesco.ie. 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.tesco.ie [Accessed 19 July 2020].

World Health Organization. 2015. WHO Guideline : Sugar Consumption Recommendation. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/ [Accessed 19 July 2020].

Categories: Blogs

10 Comments

  • SAM · 25/07/2020 at 3:01 PM

    Hi Sharon,

    I must say, this was a very timely article to chance upon! I’ve recently bought a plant protein powder and making my own breakfast smoothies. Was wondering how else I could make it more interesting.

    What recipe would you suggest to incorporate veggies and plant protein powder? Open to suggestions!

    Thanks for the article, I had a great read.

    Cheers.
    SAM

      Sharon · 26/07/2020 at 2:37 PM

      Hi there,

      Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the suggestions I provided in the post. I hope the article was of use to you and you found some options to try. If I’m honest, all the suggestions I provided in the blog, but as an example, you could mix protein powder with kale and banana, which is delicious. Try a few of the recipes and let me know how you’d get on.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    Amy Smith · 25/07/2020 at 3:17 PM

    I really want to get into to smoothies, they are a great way of getting your 5 a day but the sugar content always has concerned me, thats unbelievable that a whole small bottle will take you way over your daily allowance!
    By making your own your totally in control of this which is great.
    What is spirulina I’ve heard of it but no idea what it is?

      Sharon · 27/07/2020 at 8:39 PM

      Hi Amy,

      Good to hear, I’m glad you’re conscious of your sugar intake. Yes, it is exceptional to think that it is being marketed as healthy! That is, after all, one of my key goals with these posts. Spirulina is a type of algae that can come in powder format. It’s packed with nutrients, so it’s a great addition to smoothies, amongst a range of other foods. Certainly worth trying it out too!

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    Jeff · 25/07/2020 at 5:11 PM

    This is an awesome article on how to make smoothies healthy, I always thought the main ingredients in smoothies were fruit. Now I know fruit actually is not the healthiest ingredient to use in a smoothie, you have provided so many healthy ingredients to choose from. So now your readers can benefit from smoothies without all the sugar, I thank you for sharing this incredible information

    Jeff

      Sharon · 27/07/2020 at 8:42 PM

      Hi Jeff,

      Good to hear, I’m glad you found it valuable and learned a few pieces of important information along the way! Yes, that’s true and I do hope my readers take this on board about limiting fruit in their smoothies.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    C.N. · 27/07/2020 at 9:49 PM

    Great article, Sharon! I love smoothies (some might call me the Smoothie Queen. Haha), but I definitely need to make more health-conscious decisions in my consumption of them (I’ve had way too many Naked smoothies during my lifetime). I’ve never liked pineapples (and though I like bananas, the taste of it in smoothies always seemed strange to me), but I definitely want to try more fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, and mangoes in my smoothies. These fruits provide a plethora of vitamins and minerals, don’t have much sugar, and go down very easily. Oddly enough, I don’t usually include vegetables in my smoothies, but I definitely think it’s time to start-carrots, spinach, broccoli, corn and kale have my name on them. Haha. Yummy! Great read! God bless you!

      Sharon · 28/07/2020 at 6:21 PM

      Hi there,

      Wow you must know a thing or 2 about smoothies so! Vegetables are key to include, especially to keep the sugar levels lower. What’s great is that you often don’t even notice the vegetables present at all! I’m glad you enjoyed the suggestions I provided in the post.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    Katrina · 27/07/2020 at 10:28 PM

    Hi Sharon,

    I really enjoyed your article on smoothies. It is a common misconception that a smoothie is healthy, regardless of where it’s obtained from or how it’s made. I actually have a BA in Nutrition Science and for 5 years, all I learned was food.
    Because I know so much about food, when I try to help my family or friends out, they usually just get upset with me because most of what we put in our bodies is opposite of healthy. 99.9% of “Healthy Foods” marketed in the stores is actually really bad for us.
    Breaking down the entire smoothie category like you did will help people that actually WANT to be healthy, understand what to put in there and what not to.

    Overall, I really enjoyed reading this!

    Katrina

      Sharon · 28/07/2020 at 6:25 PM

      Hi Katrina2,

      Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the suggestions I provided in the post. Wow, 5 years of learning food, you must really know your nutrition so! It’s reassuring to have someone like yourself backup what I have posted and hopefully motivate others who read this to choose how to make smoothies healthy.

      If there’s any particular suggestions you have in terms of making smoothies healthy, I’d love to hear them.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

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