Homemade smoothies are both delicious and very nutritious beverages. These drinks are a great way to consume fruits, fresh vegetables, proteins and superfoods (we will come back to this term later in the article). However, to ensure optimal nutritional value, it is important to choose the right ingredients. Criteria to consider when choosing ingredients may include their nutritional value, taste, texture, and ability to combine with other ingredients.
In this article, we will find out which ingredients can be added to your smoothies and what their benefits are, with some sample recipes.
Fruits are the staples of smoothies. They provide a sweet taste and essential nutrients. Fresh and frozen fruits are the best choices for smoothies because they contain vitamins and antioxidants that help maintain good health. It is possible to put all kinds of fruits in your smoothies, here is a selection with many benefits:
- Red fruits : rich in antioxidants, sources of vitamin C, rich in fibre, low in calories. Red fruits help protect against cardiovascular disease, fight against brain degeneration, boost the immune system, fight against aging of the retina and maintain beautiful skin.
- Bananas : bananas are a good base for smoothies by giving it a creamy texture. Also, they are rich in antioxidants, potassium, fiber, vitamins, including vitamins A, B6, C, and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and copper. The advantage of the banana is that it is a very nutritious fruit, being a source of natural sugars. In addition, the presence of fibers makes it possible to reduce the speed of assimilation of carbohydrates. Thus, the banana is a complete fruit offering a satiety effect.
- Apples : rich in vitamins C, A and B, and in nutrients: potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Apples are also rich in antioxidants, also high in dietary fiber, especially pectin, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels and improve digestive health by regulating intestinal transit. The benefits of apples are therefore numerous: reduction of the risk of cancer, fights cholesterol, reduction of the risk of diabetes, promotes weight loss with an appetite suppressant effect.
- Mangoes : mango is an ultra-vitamin fruit, rich in vitamins C, A, B1, B2, B6 and E. It is also rich in antioxidants. Mango helps fight against cancer, promotes eye care and facilitates intestinal transit.
- Lawyers : rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins B, C, E and K, and rich in potassium. Avocado is rich in healthy fats and improves cholesterol with a decrease in bad (LDL) and an increase in good (HDL). Avocado thus reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fruit combinations may vary depending on tastes and nutritional needs, but it's important to use fresh, seasonal fruit for optimal flavors. Frozen fruit is also a great choice for smoothies. They are convenient and retain their nutrient content with spoilage curbed by freezing. As for them, canned fruits or dried fruits often contain added sugars, so they should be avoided or limited in smoothies.
Vegetables are often overlooked in smoothies, but they can add essential nutrients and interesting flavor. Green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and lettuce, are rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber that aids digestion. Other vegetables, such as carrots, beets and cucumbers, can also be added to smoothies to vary the taste.
To properly blend vegetables in smoothies, it is recommended to chop them finely before adding them to the blender. Here are some examples of vegetables you can add to your smoothies:
- Spinach : rich in vitamins and minerals: vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate (vitamin B9), potassium and iron. Spinach is also high in fiber and antioxidants. Spinach helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and promotes intestinal health.
- Carrots : sources of fiber, rich in beta-carotene (precursor of vitamin A) and vitamin B and C, rich in antioxidants, fiber. They also contain potassium and magnesium. Carrots help reduce inflammation, promote digestion, strengthen the immune system, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help maintain retinal health.
- beets : beets help fight cancer thanks to the presence of betanin, which promotes the destruction of cancer cells. Beets are also rich in antioxidants and potassium that play a role in maintaining heart health. Beets also contain many vitamins: A, K, B2, B9, B1, B5, B6, C and E.
The term "superfood" refers to foods that have a high nutrient density, that is, they contain a significant amount of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. They are often considered to have greater health benefits than common foods. There are many, here are a few:
- Chia seeds : rich in omega 3, magnesium and potassium promoting heart health. Chia seeds are also rich in fiber, antioxidants and calcium. Chia seeds also have the advantage of being hydrating and helping to lose weight with a satiating effect.
- Spirulina : spirulina is a very complete superfood: rich in protein, iron, vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B9, A and E). In addition, spirulina contains chlorophyll to detoxify the blood.
It is possible to buy spirulina and chia seeds in organic stores.
- Ginger : rich in minerals (manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium, iron) and vitamins (mainly B3 and C). Ginger is a food packed with antioxidants. Ginger thus has a powerful anti-inflammatory action, promotes digestion and is beneficial for the heart.
- Cocoa : In addition to being delicious, cocoa is also rich in nutrients and offers several health benefits. Indeed, cocoa is rich in flavonoids and magnesium. The benefits of cocoa are numerous: strong antioxidant power, anti-stress, reduction of cardiovascular risks. Cocoa is therefore good for health, but to be consumed in moderation. It is also necessary to be careful to take cocoa without sugar.
- Oilseeds (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.): oilseeds have the advantage of being rich in good fats. Indeed, they are rich in unsaturated fatty acids (omega 3 and 6). They then help prevent cardiovascular disease by maintaining good cholesterol levels. Oilseeds are also rich in antioxidants, fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals.
- Honey : honey has an antibacterial and antiseptic action. It is also anti-inflammatory and improves digestion. In addition, honey has an important sweetening power, giving a good taste to smoothies. However, it should be noted that since honey is high in sugar, it is important to consume it in moderation.
Which milk to choose?
There are several types of milks you can use in smoothies. Depending on the milk chosen, the benefits will not be the same. Here are the main types of milk:
- Cow milk : Cow's milk is the most common option for smoothies. It's high in protein, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, making it a great choice for smoothies that are meant to be complete meals. Cow's milk is also rich in vitamins, especially B2 and B12.
- Almond milk : Almond milk is a popular alternative to cow's milk. It is low in calories and fat, but rich in vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and iron. It is also naturally lactose-free, making it an option for those who are lactose intolerant. However, almond milk is low in protein.
- oat milk : oat milk is rich in fiber, vitamins (mainly E and B) and minerals. This milk contains the same amount of fat as cow's milk, but it is low in carbohydrates. So, oat milk is one of the best alternatives for people who want to lose weight.
- Coconut milk : Coconut milk is rich in healthy fats, phosphorus, iron, potassium and has a tropical taste that goes well with fruit. It can also impart a creamy texture to smoothies.
- Soy milk : soy milk is rich in protein, fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Naturally, it does not contain calcium, but it is possible to find it enriched with calcium. It is also lactose-free, which makes it suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
- Goat's milk : goat's milk is a less common alternative, but rich in proteins, calcium and lipids. This milk is also rich in vitamins A, D, E and B12. However, its lipid concentration makes it fatter. It also has a unique taste that can add variety to smoothies.
It's up to you to choose the milk that best suits your preferences and nutritional needs. Keep in mind that some milks can affect the taste and texture of your smoothies, so feel free to experiment to find your favorite combination.
How to make a smoothie?
As you may have understood, the ingredients mentioned above have many benefits. Thus, when designing your homemade smoothie recipe, it is important to choose ingredients that you like while ensuring their nutritional quality. Try to opt for ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. In this way, you can indulge yourself while doing good for your body.
To make your smoothie, you will need a blender to blend your ingredients to a smooth, creamy consistency. If you don't have a blender, I personally use the Philips To-Go Mini Blender*. This blender has several advantages: it is aesthetic, does not take up much space and is easy to clean with the possibility of putting it in the dishwasher.
It is possible to store your smoothie, but its storage time depends on the ingredients used and the storage conditions. In general, smoothies should be consumed immediately after preparation to reap their full nutritional benefits. If you cannot drink it immediately, you can store it in the refrigerator for a few hours, but no longer than 24 hours. The ideal is therefore to drink it directly to make the most of its benefits.
Examples of smoothie recipes
The recipes are endless, whether it's: banana-raspberry smoothie, green smoothie, banana-strawberry smoothie, mango-banana smoothie... it's easy to get lost. Here are some examples, with their composition, of possible smoothies to make. Feel free to modify the recipes to your liking. It is important to have fun, be creative!!
- Energizing Smoothie : 1 banana, 2 oranges, 1/2 lemon, 1 apple, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 150 ml of milk
- Detox smoothie : 1 banana, 1 handful of spinach, 1/2 squeezed lemon, 1 cm of ginger, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 200 ml of coconut water
- Refreshing smoothie : 1 cucumber, 1/2 cup mint leaves, 1 squeezed lemon, 1 cup ice cubes, 250 ml water
- protein smoothie : 1 banana, 1 handful of almonds, 1 handful of walnuts, 40 g oat flakes, 150 g cottage cheese (as low in fat as possible), 150 ml milk
Let's finish with a last tip, it is possible to add ice cubes to your mixture before mixing to obtain a very fresh smoothie, but also to have a thicker and creamier texture.
Frozen fruits: Bouzari, A. et al. (2015).
Red fruits: Zhou, Y. et al. (2022).
Bananas: Bhatt, A., & Patel, V. (2015). ; Mitsou, EK et al. (2011).
Apples: Boyer, J. et al. (2004). ; Hyson, DA (2011). ; Johnston, CS et al. (2018).
Mangoes: Amado, LC et al. (2018). ; Anunciacao, PC et al. (2018).
Lawyers: Fulgoni, VL et al. (2013). ; Ghanim, H. et al. (2019).
Spinach: Neelakantan, N. et al. (2019).
Carrots: Kim, Y. et al. (2018).
Beet: Clifford, T. et al. (2015).
Superfoods: Illian, TG et al. (2011). ; Azam, MS et al. (2018). ; Deng, R. et al. (2010). ; Latif R. (2013). ; Guasch-Ferré, M. et al. (2020). ; Kim, Y. et al. (2018). ; Al-Waili, NS (2011).
For more information regarding scientific references, feel free to ask in the comments.
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Images from Pixabay and Freepik.
Very interesting and very complete article, which makes you want to try smoothies 😉