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A quick all-in-one breakfast, the smoothie combines a variety of ingredients like low-fat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, milk, milk alternatives and 100% fruit juice. Some smoothies use sherbet or sorbet for a cold, smooth consistency. Almond or peanut butter, flaxseed, rolled oats, avocado, spinach and other wholesome ingredients can be mixed and matched. The possibilities are truly endless.
Using full-fat ingredients like whole milk or large portions of higher fat, healthy ingredients (like nut butters or avocado) can sabotage even a wholesome smoothie. And when large glasses of any blended ingredients are poured as one serving (exceeding about 12 fluid ounces) the calories can start going into the 500-plus range — definitely defeating the purpose of a quick and healthy snack or meal.
Fruit juice also has its pros and cons. Juice can absolutely be part of a healthy eating plan but only if it’s 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Other juice imposters are basically water and added sugar. Portions are another big concern.
Four fluid ounces of 100% fruit juice contain about 60 calories and count as a serving of fruit. Most of the sugar is usually natural, meaning, it comes from the fruit. The same amount of 100% vegetable juice is about 25 calories and also counts as a serving of vegetables.
But drinking your fruit and vegetable servings isn’t the ideal way to get them in. Juicing destroys important vitamins (specifically vitamins A and C) which some manufacturers choose to add back in, while others do not. (You can tell if any vitamins were re-added by reading the ingredient list.) Whole fruit and vegetables also offer more fiber, which helps add bulk and keeps you more satisfied.
If juicing suits your fancy, it’s another way to get fruit and vegetable goodness into a glass. But again, portions are important in order to keep calories in check.
Healthy Eats Winner: Smoothies are the winner in this food fight. A well-balanced blend of a variety of wholesome ingredients can add important nutrients to your diet.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »
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