4 steps to make a healthier smoothie

  • Smoothies can be a great way to add more fruit and veg to your diet
  • However, you may be adding unwanted kilojoules and sugar if you're not careful
  • A smoothie is a great breakfast option, as long as it's nutritionally balanced

For many people, smoothies are a popular breakfast choice as they are quick and easy to make and can be consumed on the go.

They can also pack a fibre punch, but if you don’t have the right balance of ingredients, you may end up with a sugar bomb – which might satisfy your sweet tooth, but won't sustain you for long.

So, if you enjoy smoothies, how do you ensure that they are balanced? Here are some tips:

1. Include these four crucial elements

According to nutrition expert Dr David Ludwig of Boston’s Children’s Hospital at Harvard, the following should be included to turn a smoothie into a well-round, filling meal: healthy fats, fibre, protein and some greens. Healthy fats can be supplied by yoghurt, a scoop of nut butter, avocado or coconut oil. Your fibre needs can be covered by a portion of fruit, a scoop of rolled oats, flax or chia seeds. You can then add a protein powder of your choice, but check the label for sugar content. A collagen protein powder is also a great way to bulk up the protein content of your smoothie.

2. Be mindful of the liquid you add

When it comes to smoothie consistencies, we all have our preferences. Some prefer a thick, hearty smoothie, while others prefer a more liquid consistency. When adding liquid, be mindful of your choice, as this can add more kilojoules. Choose low-fat milk or a plant-based milk, or water instead of fruit juice or full-cream milk to dilute your smoothie.

Remember that some plant-based milks may have added sugar. Choose an unsweetened version of you want to cut down on your sugar consumption.

3. Go green

For many, the thought of adding kale or spinach to a smoothie might sound unappetising. However, these greens will be virtually tasteless, while adding a lovely green hue, nutrients and fibre.

Author Victoria Boutenko explained the benefits of green smoothies in a previous Health24 article. According to Boutenko, smoothies are a good way to consume more greens, especially if you don’t enjoy them in regular meals. Here are a few tips to make a green smoothie more palatable:

  • Stick to a 60:40 fruit to green vegetable ratio to avoid the green flavours dominating your smoothie.
  • Avoid adding cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli to smoothies at first, as the bitter taste may be off-putting. Stick to spinach, baby spinach and kale.
  •  As you start to experiment with tastes, include greens such as rocket, asparagus, celery, chard, collard greens, endive, Romaine red and green-leafed lettuce, radishes and wheatgrass.
  • Good herbs to add to green smoothies are aloe vera, baby dill, basil, cilantro, fennel, mint, lemon balm, parsley, peppermint leaves and stevia.

4. Experiment with low-sugar flavours

You might be tempted to add honey or other sweeteners to your smoothie, but this can increase your sugar intake, especially combined with fruit and a protein powder that may already contain sugar.

While additions like raw cacao powder, sugar-free cocoa powder, cinnamon, grated ginger or turmeric are not the tastiest sugar-free options, they will contribute antioxidants to your smoothie.

READ | 5 reasons why intermittent fasting may not be right for you

READ | How to eat healthier if you absolutely hate vegetables

READ | Is canned or frozen produce bad for me?

Image credit: iStock

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