How Healthy are Your Smoothies?
Smoothies are a great way to cool down, get your daily recommended amount of fruit, and lose weight. But don’t be fooled by their healthy appearance and good reputation. Smoothies can easily become an unhealthy option, depending on the ingredients. While these drinks normally consist of healthy ingredients like yogurt, skim milk and fresh fruit, adding in sweet extras can really increase your caloric intake. If you aren’t careful, you could be drinking upwards of 600 calories per glass! Here’s how you can keep your smoothies tasty, refreshing, and waist-line friendly.
Ditch the Unhealthy Add-ons
It’s easy to get carried away with your smoothie. Peanut butter, ice cream, chocolate sauce and other sugary syrups give smoothies added sweetness and texture, but they can quickly transform a healthy drink into an unhealthy dessert. In addition to the increase in calories, some of these extras add unnecessary carbs and saturated fats, ingredients that will make you gain weight. To keep your smoothie simple and healthy, use no more than five ingredients – most of which should be fruit.
Opt for Healthy Add-ons
For added nutrition, crunch and flavor, use any of these ingredients in combination with your other smoothie components:
- Old-fashioned oats
- Chia seeds
- Wheat germ
- Coconut water
- Flavor extracts
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger
Cut the Fat
Smoothies can quickly go from light to loaded when too much fat is added. To give your smoothie that silky texture, skip the ice cream and go for low-fat or non-fat dairy items like silken tofu, Greek yogurt, skim milk or cottage cheese. These more nutritious options not only put the ‘smooth’ in smoothie, but they are also rich in protein.
If hunger is creeping up on you not long after you finish your smoothie, think about adding in more protein. Protein can help you lose weight and feel full. The recommended amount of protein for the average male is 56 grams and for the average female, 46 grams. If you feel that your smoothie is lacking in the protein department, add ingredients like whey protein, almond milk, soy milk or kefir. These additions will make that smoothie feel more like a meal, leaving you feeling satisfied.
Experiment with Texture
Bananas are a common smoothie ingredient, and they are great for adding flavor and body, but did you know that there are other options with even more benefits? Try using an avocado instead of a banana. It won’t be as sweet, but it has potassium just like the banana, and lots of antioxidants and fiber. Even though avocados are high in fat, they contain oleic and linoleic acids that help lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as healthy cholesterol, making it a great swap.
When assembling your smoothie ingredients, keep in mind that your drink should be high in protein, minerals, and fiber. If you drink smoothies to aid in weight loss, remember to use them as a meal or snack replacement and not in addition to your meals. Also, skip the fatty, sugary add-ons to keep the calorie count down. Build a better smoothie with wholesome ingredients and enjoy every guilt-free sip! For more smoothie ideas, check out these healthy recipes.
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