If you’ve seen your friends and favorite health gurus loading up on smoothies in the name of good nutrition, you’re not alone. Smoothies are often a healthy option because they can be made with fresh fruits and vegetables, giving you a convenient, tasty way to boost your intake of real food and fresh produce.
However, not all smoothies are created equal. Some might masquerade as a health food despite containing far too much sugar and empty calories to ever be considered healthy. Some smoothies contain up to 40 grams of sugar per serving — that’s the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of sugar, just coming from your supposedly “healthy” snack.
If you want to know how to make a truly healthful and delicious smoothie, you’ve come to the right place. The best way to craft a healthy smoothie recipe is to start with fresh or frozen, low-sugar, high fiber, fruits and vegetables (such as kale, spinach, blueberries and avocado). This is because the sugar issue is a major problem. Keeping an eye on the amount of sugar and fiber you add to the foods you enjoy will help keep your blood sugar levels in check. If you can balance your blood sugar levels, you’ll have better control over hunger.
There’s no need to overthink what you add to your smoothie, rather, just get into the hang of adding a few favorites foods each and every time, and you’ll be on the fast track to smoothie success!
The Benefits of Vegetables in Smoothies
Vegetables have earned a rightful place in the world of smoothies. Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you add radishes or green peppers to your next concoction, but you might be pleasantly surprised to know that veggies, like kale, spinach, butternut squash, and even frozen cauliflower, can add a rainbow of benefits to your blender.
Vegetables contain plentiful amounts of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds found specifically in plants that have been demonstrated to boost health and wellness as well as provide antioxidants to the body. Antioxidants bind to electrons from free radicals in the body, helping to promote healthy aging and protect against numerous conditions. Vegetables also contain large amounts of fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion. Low-sugar fruits such as berries and avocado also lend a healthy heaping of antioxidants and phytonutrients, while adding a subtle sweetness to your drink without overdoing it on sugar.
The Power of Protein
Finally, no smoothie is complete without a serving or two of protein. In addition to keeping you full, protein is beneficial for muscle growth as well as promoting the health of the connective tissues, such as the skin, bones, nails, joints and hair. There are many different kinds of proteins you can add to your smoothies.
Plant Proteins: If you want to add a vegan protein to your smoothie, you’ll probably want to stick with nuts and seeds. These foods contain a modest amount of protein as well as a decent amount of healthy fats, as well as digestion-promoting fiber. Some of the most common choices are chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and pecans. Nut and seed butters can also make for delicious mix-ins, adding sweetness and thickness to your smoothie. Just be sure to purchase nut and seed butters that don’t include sugar.
Protein Powders: The next option to add protein to your smoothies are protein powders. These can be hit or miss… There are a lot of protein powders that contain artificial ingredients, and equally many that contain added sugars. Egg white protein, brown rice protein, whey protein, and watermelon seed protein are all wholesome bases for protein powders, but ensure that whatever you’re purchasing contains all-natural ingredients.
Collagen Protein: Finally, collagen protein is a fantastic way to diversify the protein content of your smoothie. Collagen is a type of protein that’s found in animal skins, bones and cartilage, and is the main component of the connective tissues. Adding collagen to your smoothie is important not only for boosting protein content, but also for adding in some amino acids that aren’t prevalent in other protein types, such as glycine, proline and hydroxyproline.
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein created by the body that is found in large quantities in the body’s connective tissues, including the skin, bones, joints, hair, nails and tendons. It’s special and different from other types of protein, because in a sense, it helps hold the body together. While we’re young, our bodies are efficient at producing collagen that keeps our bones strong, our skin supple, and our ligaments and tendons in prime condition.
However, after about age 25, our bodies’ natural production of collagen starts to slow. Our ancestors used to get a great deal of collagen in their diets by consuming things like bone marrow, organ meats, and bone broths. However, modern food processing has largely removed collagen from our diets. That’s why we believe in adding collagen back into our diets to help support the connective tissues as we age. Adding collagen protein to your smoothies can offer a number of benefits, including:
- Hair, skin and nail health: Collagen is often known as a beauty supplement because it is such an important component of strong nails, healthy hair and youthful-looking skin.
- Bone and joint health: Collagen is also fantastic for supporting the bones and joints. In fact, one study found that athletes who took collagen noticed a sharp decrease in their likelihood of injury.
- Digestive support: Collagen can be important for supporting the digestive system. The gut lining, after all, is made of skin — a connective tissue.
Choose Your Form of Collagen
If we’ve sold you on the prospect of adding collagen protein to your smoothies, now it’s time to choose your favorite form of collagen. Here are a few of our favorite options:
- Collagen Peptides: Vital Proteins’ Collagen Peptides are a fantastic choice for smoothies. These Collagen Peptides have been shown in studies to be easily digested and absorbed by the body (2), and as a bonus, they are completely flavorless, odorless, and soluble in both cold and hold liquids. Made from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine hide, Collagen Peptides are truly one of the most versatile forms of collagen out there, and they won’t impact the taste of your smoothie in the slightest.
- Marine Collagen: Much like Collagen Peptides, Marine Collagen is flavorless, odorless, and soluble in both cold and hot liquids. The only difference is that Marine Collagen is made from wild-caught red snapper scales, making it a good choice for pescatarians.
- Beauty Water: Vital Proteins’ Beauty Waters are ideal for anyone hoping to add a mild flavor to their smoothie. They contain Collagen Peptides as well as real-food flavors, such as strawberries, lemons and cucumber. They also contain hyaluronic acid, an ingredient which has been shown to help improve skin moisture. The Beauty Waters are available in four flavors: Strawberry Lemon, Lavender Lemon, Cucumber Aloe, and Melon Mint.
- Collagen Veggie Blend: If you either love the taste of vegetables or, conversely, don’t eat enough veggies, the Collagen Veggie Blend is a fantastic choice. Consisting of Collagen Peptides, three serving of vegetables, and one serving of fruit per serving, the Collagen Veggie Blend is an extremely nourishing way to give your smoothie that characteristic vegetable juice taste.
- Matcha Collagen: Matcha green tea is absolutely packed with antioxidants. Vital Proteins’ Matcha Collagen combines the highest-quality matcha available made with Collagen Peptides, making for an extremely healthy smoothie addition. If you love the taste of green tea, this one’s for you.
- Collagen Creamer: Hoping to add some warm and sweet flavors to your smoothie? Vital Proteins Collagen Creamers come in three flavors (Coconut, Vanilla and Gingerbread), and combine delicious flavors and Collagen Peptides with healthy fats from coconut milk. The coconut milk powder in these creamers will lend a smooth taste to your smoothies as well.
DIY Smoothie Bar
So, keeping all that in mind, let’s talk recipes! Building a smoothie can be easy… We recommend combining one leafy green with two to three low-sugar fruits and topping off with at least two sources of protein.
Why Vital Proteins?
Vital Proteins is a great protein choice because of the cleanliness of its products. All collagen in Vital Proteins’ products is sourced from either grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine from Brazil or New Zealand, or wild-caught red snapper from Hawaii. Vital Proteins routinely batch tests to ensure product quality, and never includes added sugars, GMOs, or artificial ingredients of any kind. All of the flavors added to Vital Proteins products from from real-food, often organic sources, so you can rest assured nothing in your smoothie is anything but fresh.