Food and Recipes: 15 Picks for Your Perfect Smoothie

Smoothies can satisfy your sweet tooth while supplying ample nutrients.

Blended Bliss

The perfect smoothie can satisfy your sweet tooth without a lot of calories -- but with a bunch of nutrients. Looking for cool ideas to throw in your blender? There are plenty of options for you to try.

Avocados supply heart healthy good fat that supports favorable cholesterol levels.

Avocados

They'll give your smoothie weight, thickness, and a silky texture. Yes, they're full of fat, but it's the "good" fat. The kind that's linked to good heart health and good cholesterol levels. They'll also help you feel full longer.

Beets are rich in fiber and antioxidants.

Beets

You can't -- ahem -- beat them, really. They have lots of fiber and will add sweetness and a beautiful red color to your smoothies. They're also good for your heart and your brain and are loaded with antioxidants. If red's not your color, you can use yellow beets instead.

Peanut butter adds protein and potassium to smoothies.

Peanut Butter

In a smoothie? Yeah, lots of people do it. It not only adds flavor, it also changes the texture -- especially if you use the "crunchy" kind. It has some fiber, and it's a great source of protein and potassium.

Coconut ups the potassium and manganese content of smoothies.

Coconut

It's full of nutrients, like potassium and manganese, and will add body and texture to your smoothie. Any kind will do, but check out young Thai coconuts -- they're the ones used to make the "coconut water" sold as a natural, lower-sugar sports drink.

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense leafy greens.

Kale

This king of the green leafy veggies is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, with only 33 calories per 2.5-ounce serving. And along with fruit or lemon juice, it's surprisingly good in a smoothie.

Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and it helps keep your bowels moving.

Flaxseed

It's high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and can help keep your cholesterol levels in a healthy range. Ground flaxseed makes for a smoother smoothie than whole seeds, and your body can absorb it more easily. But go easy: It's commonly used to help with constipation, so you can imagine what happens when you eat too much of it.

Chia seeds add fatty acids, antioxidants, and an interesting jelly-like texture to smoothies.

Chia Seeds

They have lots of antioxidants and fatty acids that are linked to healthy cholesterol levels and good heart health, but you may not be able to get them from these seeds as well as you can from other foods. Either way, they'll add more texture and a nutty flavor to your smoothie -- but don't use more than a tablespoon or so, or you'll end up with a glass of jelly instead.

Honey adds a touch of sweetness to smoothies along with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

Honey

It makes everything a little sweeter. Just don't overdo it -- it's still mostly sugar. The exact ingredients depend on where the honey's made, but most have small amounts of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are good for your digestion.

Agave is highly processed and it is sweeter than sugar, so use it sparingly.

Agave Syrup

Be careful with this one -- it's really just a kind of sugar. It may sound natural, but it's highly processed, like high-fructose corn syrup. It's sweeter than regular sugar, so you may use less.

Mangos are high in carotenoids, which have antioxidant activities.

Mangos

Like squash, carrots, and grapefruit, these are high in carotenoids -- chemicals that help keep your cells healthy. They also add a beautiful orange color and delicious flavor to smoothies.

Almond milk adds nutty flavor and a bit of sweetness to smoothies.

Almond Milk

This adds a tasty nutty flavor with a touch of sweetness. But it's not a good source of protein -- even though raw almonds have plenty -- and it can sometimes cause digestive problems.

Full-fat yogurt supplies protein, calcium, and probiotics, and may help you maintain a healthy weight.

Yogurt

It can really put the smooth in your smoothie. It's loaded with calcium, protein, and probiotics that help keep a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. And full-fat yogurt (not low-fat, strangely) has been shown to help keep you at a healthy weight.

Pineapples are high in fiber and vitamin C and they have anti-inflammatory properties.

Pineapples

Sweet as they are, a cup only has about 82 calories. At the same time, they're loaded with fiber and vitamin C. They're good for your bones, your vision, and your digestion. They also help with inflammation.

Berries are high in fiber and antioxidants that reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Berries

Low in calories and high in antioxidants and fiber, these are the super foods of the fruit world. And that's just part of the reason they're a smoothie standard. They can help with inflammation and lower your risk of heart disease -- and they may help protect you against certain cancers as well. Plus, they'll add bite, color, and a touch of sweetness.

Bananas are loaded with potassium that helps prevent stroke and boosts cardiovascular health.

Bananas

They're loaded with potassium, which helps prevent stroke and improves cardiovascular health. They add bulk to your smoothie, and also make that kale taste like … well, banana.

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REFERENCES:

  • Harvard Health Publications: "Ask the doctor: Why is peanut butter 'healthy' if it has saturated fat?" "In search of a milk alternative."
  • NIH: "Beneficial effects of potassium on human health," "The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease," "The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L.," "Effects of agave nectar versus sucrose on weight gain, adiposity, blood glucose, insulin, and lipid responses in mice," "Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects," "Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review," "Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Types of Berries," "The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease."
  • LiveScience: "Eating Potassium-Rich Food May Lower Stroke Risk," "What are Carotenoids?" "Pineapple: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts."
  • Mayo Clinic: "Does ground flaxseed have more health benefits than whole flaxseed?"
  • Nutrition and You.com: "Coconut nutrition facts."
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