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.

Breana Lai Killeen, M.P.H., RD
Updated March 22, 2021
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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 the 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? Try one of our healthy smoothie recipes and check out our ingredients to choose and avoid for smoothies.

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

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 (here's more information on how to freeze your own fruit).

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

Best Vegetables for Smoothies

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Pictured Recipe: Pineapple Green Smoothie

Use raw or frozen vegetables. Usually, the sweetness of the fruit masks the vegetable flavor but you may need 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, avoid using these ingredients all the time, which provide more calories in the form of added sugar, in some cases without many nutrients.

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