Is that smoothie helping or hurting you? Smart smoothie checklist

Done correctly, smoothies are nutrition powerhouses that can pump you full of healthy fruits and veggies. Done wrong, they can pad your waistline with excess sugar, fat and artificial ingredients. Here’s a quick checklist to help ensure your smoothie is made of the right stuff!

  • Make your own smoothies. Smoothies from grocery stores and fast-food chains often contain ridiculous amounts of sugar and fat—providing upward of 600 calories, with enough saturated fat to rival a double cheeseburger and carbohydrate grams in the triple digits. And that’s just for the small size!
  • Use plenty of ice. According to Health magazine, research shows that people who drank dense smoothies felt fuller than those who had a thinner version—even when the calorie counts were the same! The best way to thicken your smoothie without adding calories? Ice.
  • Use whole fruits and veggies. Avoid using fruit juice, which is high in sugar and doesn’t have the fiber real fruit offers—fiber takes longer to digest, so you stay fuller longer.
  • Use more veggies than fruit. Fruit can have a lot of natural sugar and calories, so minimize waist-enhancing effects by using more veggies than fruit. Spinach and kale are both surprisingly neutral tasting when blended. Even though they’ll turn your beverage green, they shouldn’t affect the taste much.
  • Fortify with omega-3s. A tablespoon of flaxseed, hemp or chia goes a long way to add both fiber and inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acid.
  • TIP: Try chunking peaches, pineapple, strawberries and bananas and spreading them on a tray and freezing until firm. Then separate into baggies for easy use.
  • Add a little protein and healthy fats. A little bit of unsaturated fat (half an avocado or a tablespoon of nut butter) helps the heart and keeps you full, too. The key word is little, or else you’ll turn the smoothie into a waistline disaster.
  • Don’t add sugar. If your smoothie needs a touch of sweetness, try ¼ cup of coconut milk, almond milk or coconut water. (Again, avoid fruit juices.) Alternatively, try blending in a teaspoon of honey, unsweetened cocoa powder, cacao nibs or try a touch of vanilla extract or cinnamon/

Try this recipe!

Preparation time: 2 minutes, number of servings (yield): 2 (39.4 oz)

What You Need:

  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 green apple, roughly chopped (discard core and seeds)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • ½ an avocado
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds (6.8 oz.)
  • 6 ice cubes
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ½ cup fresh parsley

What You Do:

  1. Blend all ingredients except parsley.
  2. Once smoothie reaches desired consistency, stop the blender, add parsley and blend for five additional seconds

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (19.7 ounces): Calories: 278; Total Fat: 11g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Fiber: 14g.; Sugar: 28g.; Protein: 5g.