4 Easy Ways to Make Any Smoothie Better for You
1. Use fresh, not frozen fruit (most of the time).
Fruit loses nutrients, vitamins and flavor during both the freezing and unfreezing processes. Stick with fresh, seasonal fruit whenever you can to get the most nutritional and flavor bang for your buck in your smoothie recipe. If you just have to have peaches in the middle of winter or any other out-of-season fruit, opt for frozen. Fruits are frozen at their prime and will retain more nutrients than a piece of fruit that has to travel thousands of miles to get to your grocery store.
2. Nix the fruit juice: Use a natural, zero-calorie sweetener.
Skip the sugar, the high fructose corn syrup and the fruit juice (yup, fruit juice is a major source of sugar and calories in smoothie recipes). Instead, use a natural zero-calorie sweetener like stevia. This type of sweeter significantly reduces calories and cuts sugar in half-from about 60 to 70 grams per 16 oz smoothie to about 30 to 40 grams. What's more, sweeteners derived from the stevia plant, like PureVia, are natural and contain no extra preservatives or color.
3. Build it with yogurt and ice.
Smoothie recipes should be cool and refreshing, but stay away from ice cream and sherbet. Why? "The sugar found in 100 percent natural, nonfat yogurt is from natural sources (including those naturally found in milk in the form of lactose)," says Red Mango founder Dan Kim, who uses this type of yogurt in his smoothies. That's far better, he says, "than unhealthy additives like high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners that are used in ice cream and sherbet." What's more, real yogurt (but not fro yo) is lower in fat and calories and contains probiotic live and active cultures that help support the health of your immune and digestive systems.
4. Leave out artificial ingredients.
You may be intending to avoid artificial ingredients but get them anyway: Many "healthy" smoothie recipes sneak in artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, stabilizers and high fructose corn syrup. Using high quality, fresh ingredients (or making sure your favorite smoothie shop does the same) will give you all the flavor and nutrition you need without unnatural additives.