The Best & Worst Smoothie Ingredients

Depending on what you blend up, a smoothie can quickly turn into more of a milkshake. Find out the healthiest smoothie ingredients to use—and 10 to ditch.

Whether you enjoy smoothies for breakfast, a snack or even dessert, they're a great way to increase your daily servings of fruits and vegetables. But depending on the ingredients they're made with, smoothies can quickly become heavy on calories and filled with sugar. One of the healthiest ways to enjoy a smoothie is to make your own so you know how much of and what foods you are getting.

Wondering how to make a smoothie? A good smoothie should include some protein and fiber to help keep you full and provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals—typically from fruits and vegetables.

Need inspiration? Check out the best ingredients to choose from—and ones to avoid—then try one of our healthy smoothie recipes.

Best High-Protein Smoothie Ingredients

Adding protein helps make your smoothie more satisfying. Protein helps fill you up and there are plenty of ways to add it to your smoothie without using protein powder. If you do want to add protein powder, choose one without a lot of extra ingredients and no added sugars or sweeteners. Or try adding one of these protein-rich ingredients below.

  • Plain yogurt (unsweetened)
  • Plain milk (unsweetened)
  • Plain kefir (unsweetened)
  • Tofu
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Natural almond butter
  • Plain soymilk (unsweetened)
  • Plain high-protein almond milk (unsweetened)
  • Lentils

Best Fruits for Smoothies

Easy Smoothie Bowl

Pictured Recipe: Raspberry-Peach-Mango Smoothie Bowl

Pretty much any fruit is great for smoothies. Use fresh fruit, frozen fruit or fruit canned in water or its own juice. One great tip is to freeze your fresh produce if you know you won't get to eat it before it goes bad. This works with overripe bananas, strawberries, blueberries, sliced apples and more.

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Melon
  • Cherries
  • Apricot

Best Vegetables for Smoothies


Pictured Recipe: Pineapple Green Smoothie

Use raw or frozen vegetables. Usually, the sweetness of the fruit masks the vegetable flavor but you may need to play around with combinations and amounts to find what works for you. These veggies are all a good place to start.

  • Carrot
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin

Flavor and Nutrition Boosters

Berry & Flax Smoothie

Pictured Recipe: Berry & Flax Smoothie

Add these to boost up the nutrition even more or add to the flavor of your smoothie. Flax and chia seeds add omega-3s and protein, oats deliver healthy fiber. Spices and extracts, like vanilla, add fun flavor.

  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seed
  • Old-fashioned oats
  • Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Coconut water
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

Smoothie Ingredients to Choose Less Often

To keep your smoothie as healthy as possible, choose these ingredients less often. All these ingredients provide more calories in the form of added sugar—in some cases without many nutrients—and turn your healthy smoothie into more of a milkshake.

  • Sugar-sweetened fruit juice or concentrate
  • Flavored yogurt
  • Flavored kefir
  • Whipped cream
  • Ice cream
  • Sorbet
  • Sherbet
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Chocolate milk
  • Canned fruit in syrup

Bottom Line

Smoothies can be a healthy, nutritious addition to your day—any time of day. Making your own smoothies allows you to tailor them to your taste buds and nutritional needs. Including fruits and vegetables, a protein source, and flavor and nutrition boosters make the tastiest, nutrient-dense smoothies that will satisfy your taste buds and appetite.

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