How to Build a Better Smoothie
Smoothies sound like they’re good for you, but are they? Many are total sugar bombs and lack the balance of protein, fat, and fiber necessary to be truly nourishing.
One of the great things about smoothies is that they can be improvised using ingredients you probably have on hand. Here, Sun Basket registered dietitian Lindsey Kane shows what ingredients to choose to make any smoothie a nutritional powerhouse. For more smoothie inspo, check out Lindsey's four smoothies for starting your day right.
Give your smoothie a rich, creamy body. Because fats are slowly digested, they'll also keep you feeling fuller longer. Plus, our fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) need to be digested with fat in order for us to reap their benefits. Fats are also important in hormone regulation, cognitive health, fighting inflammation, and so much more.
Fresh, dried, or frozen fruit can sweeten your smoothie while delivering the highest level of nutrient density possible, that's because every ounce of natural sugar is also packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Almond milk, coconut milk or water, fruit juice, kefir, soy milk
To make sure your smoothie isn’t too thick, you’ll want to add a little liquid to thin it. Choose one that delivers both flavor and added nutrition. Almond and soy milks are both good sources of protein, and coconut milk is full of good fat.
- Chia seeds, hemp seeds, nut butters, yogurt
Like fats, proteins are digested slowly and delay blood sugar absorption, which translates to a boost of long-lasting energy. Proteins are also important for building and repairing tissue and they support nearly every enzyme and metabolic process in your body. Sure, protein powders deliver protein, but we consider minimally processed whole foods the gold standard of protein sources.
Spices and other flavorings
If you want to add a little something extra to your smoothie, check your spice cabinet. Spices can enhance your immune system, ease digestion, boost your metabolism, balance hormones, and combat disease. And they taste great. Cocoa and matcha are both good sources of antioxidants.
- Beets, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, greens such as chard, spinach, and kale, fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley), peas, zucchini
Nutrient-dense and fiber-rich vegetables will help stabilize blood sugar, promote satiety, and feed your gut microbiome. Chop vegetables before adding them to the blender for a smoother smoothie (and to keep green bits from getting caught in your teeth).
Illustration by Ekström Design