This year, the first day of summer falls on June 21, which also happens to be National Smoothie Day! What a cool and refreshing way to celebrate the summer solstice.
In recent years, smoothies have become very popular as a wellness beverage, but they’ve actually been around since the 1930s with the invention of the electric blender. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who works in both acute care settings and in local communities, here’s my take on the top 5 reasons you should reach for a smoothie!
- Nutrient-Packed. Freshly made smoothies made with the core ingredients of milk or yogurt, fruits, and vegetables provide protein, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, healthy carbohydrates, and phytonutrients as part of a healthy meal or snack.
- Hydration and Recovery. Research indicates that low-fat milk can be effective as a post-exercise rehydration drink and can help maintain positive fluid balance, more so than water or sports drinks.
- Easy to prepare. It’s simple to make smoothies just by using what you have in your freezer or refrigerator. You can change, adapt, and be creative with ingredients to modify not just flavors, but colors, textures, and nutrient content as well.
- Portable. Smoothies travel well when you are on the go and moving around – in a sippy cup, a mason jar, a bowl, a tumbler, in Tupperware, etc.
- Popular. They are super versatile and popular in various forms in many cultures. Plus, they are the perfect food item for busy people who want to make sure they are consuming more nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods.
Tips for Building a Better Smoothie:
- Lactose-free milk is a great option if you are sensitive to lactose–it has the same 13 essential nutrients as milk without the lactose!
- Unsweetened yogurt–Greek or traditional–adds creaminess, a tangy taste, and beneficial bacteria while increasing the protein in a smoothie.
- Frozen fruits and/or frozen vegetables will help you thicken the consistency of your drink.
- Bananas are a common ingredient in smoothie recipes because they add a thick, creamy base that’s healthy, provides natural sweetness, and pairs well with other flavors.
- Watch your portion size: an adult portion of any smoothie should be about 8 – 12 ounces.
- Freeze leftover smoothie mixtures into popsicles to have as a healthy, cooling snack.
- Experiment with add-on flavor and nutrient boosters like dates, ground flaxseed, avocado, fresh ginger, mint leaves, cinnamon, nut butters, vanilla extract, cacao powder, or turmeric.
Want to expand your smoothie recipe collection beyond the usual blueberries, strawberries, and bananas? Try a few of these recipes made with some of my favorite ingredients: Avocado-Mango Smoothie, Mean Green Smoothie, Tropical Smoothie Refresher
Nana Ataa Ofosu-Benefo is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the owner of Tungsten Wellness, LLC, a medical nutrition therapy and wellness private practice. Her non-diet nutrition counseling approach is grounded in intuitive eating and Health At Every Size principles, supports radical self-acceptance, and is weight–and size–inclusive. Ms. Ofosu-Benefo also currently works as an Adjunct Lecturer at Southside Virginia Community College and Virginia State University. For thirteen years prior to starting her own business, Ms. Ofosu-Benefo worked as a Clinical Dietitian for Morrison Healthcare at VCU Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill, Virginia. Her experiences include all aspects of acute care coverage (general med-surg floors and the ICU), the dialysis unit, labor and delivery, the oncology center, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation classes, community diabetes education classes, precepting dietetic interns, food service management, and interdisciplinary staff training/development.