Glass jars filled with green, purple and red smoothies

Is it time to rethink your morning smoothie?

Those all-in-one liquid meals are everywhere—but are they as healthy as they’re hyped to be?

Feel like you’re seeing smoothies everywhere? You probably are: smoothie stands are one of the fastest-growing restaurant trends in Canada and are popping up on all sorts of menus. It’s easy to see why they’re so popular: packed with fresh fruit and blended ice, they’re tasty, refreshing and a great way to sneak more veggies into your meals. Done right, smoothies can be convenient nutrition powerhouses.

But not every smoothie lives up to its healthy reputation. Oversized portions and too much sugar can easily transform a healthy meal into an unhealthy dessert.

Emerging research suggests that when you consume a beverage, your brain does not register the calories the same way it would do with a meal containing similar calories. So guzzling down a large smoothie will not satisfy your hunger for very long. At the same time, it delivers a good meal’s worth of calories. Retail smoothie sizes can range from 10 to 24 oz, with calories from 150 to a whopping 350 calories or more. That means you may end up taking in far more sugar and calories than you realize. You can temper this problem a few ways: make your own so you control size and ingredients, choose a small retail smoothie, and choose a healthy one. 

What makes a good smoothie? 

For a better smoothie, follow these tips:

  • Keep it small; no more than 10 oz. 
  • For the liquid, choose water or milk  
  • Get at least two servings of fresh or frozen fruit, not including the juice.
  • Look for “no added sugar” on retail servings. Agave and honey count as sugar. 
  • Include a source of protein (Greek yogurt, silken tofu, peanut butter or whey). Retail smoothies with yogurt contain no more than 2g of protein.  Ask for extra yogurt.
  • Don’t be afraid to include veggies.

Tip: Add protein so you digest your smoothie more slowly, helping you feel full longer.

Looking for a balanced smoothie to fuel you when you’re on the go?
Try this delicious, simple 
Mango strawberry smoothie recipe.

Glasses filled with healthy mango strawberry smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 mL) frozen chopped mango
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen sliced strawberries
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) chia seeds, hemp seeds or ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup (250 mL) 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) 1% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) liquid honey or 2 tsp (10 mL) maple syrup
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a blender, combine mango, strawberries, chia, hemp or flax seeds, milk, yogurt, honey and vanilla. Purée until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses and serve immediately.Tip: Using frozen mango and strawberries creates a thick smoothie. For a thinner smoothie, use fresh mango and frozen strawberries.

Nutritional Information   

per serving (1 cup/250 mL)

  • Calories 210
  • Protein 13 g
  • Total Fat 5 g
    • Saturated Fat 1 g
    • Cholesterol 9 mg
  • Carbohydrates 31 g
    • Fibre 4 g
    • Sugars 26 g
    • Added sugars 4 g
  • Sodium 80 mg
  • Potassium 527 mg

Recipe provided by Dairy Farmers of Canada ©

 

5 Responses

  1. MIke

    Here’s my recipe for my morning smoothie.
    100 ml yogurt (0 fat and 0 cholesterol)
    1/2 avocado
    1 banana
    2 eggs (raw)
    1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
    1/2 cup cran-pomegranate
    1/2 cup baby arugula or 5-6 baby carrots
    (optional – 1 tsp fresh ginger)
    This will fit into my One-shot bullet cup. It’s about 450 calories.

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth

      Thanks Mike. This looks like a delicious smoothie recipe. I would however caution you about the raw eggs which can contain salmonella. You can read more about this on Health Canada’s website using this link http://bit.ly/1MkW73O

      Appreciate you taking the time to share this with us. Thanks for your interest in the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s blog posts! Sincerely, Sharon at the Heart and Stroke Foundation

  2. Jurgen Hamm

    I m confused. The article says to avoid added sugar, but the mango strawberry smoothie recipe calls for adding liquid honey or maple syrup. Is that not added sugar?

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth

      Hi Jurgen,
      You are absolutely correct – the advice is clear that we should avoid added sugar as much as possible. The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends you consume no more than 10% total calories per day from added sugars, and ideally less than 5%; that is, for an average 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, 10% is about 48 grams (or 12 teaspoons) of added sugars. So while this recipe does call for honey or maple syrup, at 4 g the added sugars fall well within recommended daily limits, coming in at less than 10%. But thank you for your question – it’s an important one! I apologize for any confusion. Yours in healthy eating, Sharon at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

  3. Jenn

    I often have a fruit smoothie with added vegetables and flax seed for breakfast. I never add sugar as the fruit makes it plenty sweet enough.

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