Things to Put in a Healthy Smoothie

by Sara Ipatenco, Demand Media
    Fresh fruit is a nutritious smoothie ingredient.

    Fresh fruit is a nutritious smoothie ingredient.

    A smoothie is a refreshing treat, but so many of them have ice cream or frozen yogurt in them. To be totally honest, that's what makes them taste so good, but you don't need these no-no's to make a yummy smoothie. You can make a smoothie that is low in sugar and calories that also tastes great by choosing healthy ingredients over ice cream and frozen yogurt.

    Protein Foods

    Frozen yogurt, ice cream or sherbet thicken a smoothie, but they aren't your only choices. Use plain low-fat yogurt instead. It thickens your smoothie, but it won't pack it with too much fat, calories or sugar. As an added bonus, the yogurt adds calcium and protein. Use soft tofu instead of yogurt for a similar consistency. Combine low-fat plain yogurt or tofu with a small amount of skim, soy, almond or rice milk to to add more nutrients and make your smoothie taste even better.

    Fruit

    Fresh fruit supplies a good dose of fiber, potassium and vitamin C and also adds natural sweetness to your smoothie. Fruit keeps your heart healthy and can prevent cancer, too. Use berries, bananas, peaches, pears, cherries and melon to create yummy smoothies. Make your smoothie with 100 percent fruit juice as another way to add vitamins and minerals to this healthy treat. You won't get as much fiber, but your smoothie will taste good, and you'll get vitamin C and potassium.

    Vegetables

    Vegetables aren't as sweet as fruit, but they add iron, fiber and vitamin A to your smoothie. Pureed or steamed vegetables don't alter the taste of a smoothie significantly, if you're worried about the flavor. Add a tablespoon or two of cooked spinach, carrots, squash or sweet potatoes to a smoothie recipe. Combine vegetables with fruit to create even more tasty combinations. Pair cooked carrots with apple juice or pureed broccoli with blueberries or blackberries for a smoothie that tastes good but that is also good for you. Cucumbers with strawberries or mango with sweet potatoes are more combinations that you might want to try.

    Spices

    Dried spices add a burst of flavor to a smoothie, but they also do good things for your health. Sprinkle cinnamon into a fruit or vegetable smoothie. A 2010 study published in "Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition" notes that cinnamon can boost heart health and lower cholesterol. The journal also reported that cinnamon might keep cancerous tumors from growing and can be used to treat type 2 diabetes. Another study published in 2006 in the "European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology" notes that herbs and spices contain antioxidants that keep you from getting sick. Add mint, nutmeg or cloves to a smoothie to take advantage of these potential benefits.

    About the Author

    Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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