To Smoothie or Not………

Smoothies seem to be all the rage, but are they the nutritional powerhouse promised?

Smoothies allow people the opportunity to sneak in more fruits and vegetables. Unlike juicing, blending produce into a smoothie preserves fiber. A smoothie can deliver a boost of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals because it often includes fruit skins and pith. If your smoothie includes yogurt or milk, you get some calcium, too.

There is a down side to smoothies, however. Smoothies can quickly turn into a high-calorie beverage. Common sugary ingredients include sweetened yogurt, sweetened juice, sorbet, frozen yogurt or ice cream. Unfortunately, many made-to-order smoothies include these ingredients.

Wondering how to make a smoothie?

The healthiest way to enjoy a smoothie is to make your own. A healthy smoothie should contain a blend of ingredients with protein and fiber to help keep you full and provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

First, make sure that you include a protein. Great options are Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, tofu, almond milk, soymilk or cow’s milk. The protein addition to your smoothie will help with satiety and maximize the nutrition content.

And when it comes to smoothies, don’t forget to keep an eye on portion sizes. If you’re having a smoothie as a meal, aim for 300-400 calories. If your smoothie is a snack between meals, make it small and aim for fewer than 300 calories.

A helpful tip is to use frozen fruit, because frozen fruit eliminates the need for ice.

Following is a list of healthful smoothie ingredients, based on their protein, fiber and nutrient contents:

Best high-protein smoothie ingredients:

nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
nonfat or low-fat plain milk
nonfat or low-fat plain kefir
tofu
natural peanut butter
almond butter
plain soymilk
plain almond milk
Best fruits for smoothies (use fresh fruit, frozen fruit or fruit canned in water or its own juice):

berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
mango
pineapple
peach
banana
apple
melon
cherries
apricot
Best vegetables for smoothies (use raw):

carrot
kale
spinach
avocado
cucumber
Healthful smoothie additions for flavor and additional nutrition:

flaxseed
chia seed
old-fashioned oats
spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)
vanilla extract
coconut water
unsweetened cocoa powder

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