We've put together a handy guide to help you identify the benefits of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, so you can build your own delicious smoothie to your tastes, preferences and needs!
Smoothies have become an increasingly popular health beverage following the invention of the first blender in the 1930s. Made from mostly blended fruits and vegetables, these drinks resemble milkshakes but boast a far higher nutrient density, packing fibre, vitamins and flavour into a single glass. Through the emphasis of the need for a more varied diet and a greater focus on healthy eating and the consumption of our five a day, smoothies have become an international favourite amongst the many for a tasty snack, pick-me-up or even a nutritious meal.
Choose 2-3 different fruits or vegetables to include in you smoothie - aim for ½ cup - 1 cup of each depending on whether you're making your drink as a snack or a meal. We recommend choosing one piece of fruit and one to two vegetables in order to control the natural sugar content in your smoothie.
Apples - Apples are an excellent source of polyphenols, like the flavonoid epicatechin. These micronutrients are packed with antioxidants, helping to treat digestive issues, diabetes and some diseases, as well as promoting good gut and bones health. Apples also contain pectin, a water-soluble fibre that are thought to help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Bananas - Whilst most commonly known for being high in potassium, bananas are also a supply of vitamin B6, carbohydrate and vitamin C. Potassium plays a vital role in the regulation of heart function and can help to lower blood pressure. Plus, its high sugar content makes it the perfect choice as an energy booster before or after a workout.
Berries - Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, not only are berries a great way to mix up your smoothies, but they're also great providers of, fibre, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.
Pears - Another great source of pectin, pears are not only a more satiating fruit (helping to keep you full), but they also help to ensure that bowel movements are kept regular.
Honeydew Melon - Rich in several nutrients that are vital for repairing and maintaining strong bones, Honeydew Melon is fantastic for the promotion of bone health. Just one cup of melon provides 8% of your RDI of folate, critical for the breakdown of homocysteine which, if levels become too high, can cause a reduction in bone health over time.
Mango - Known as the 'King of Fruits' in some parts of the world, mango is a stone fruit that boasts an impressive nutritional profile. Vitamin A not only supports eye health, but is also fundamental for a healthy immune system, whilst its vitamin C content also helps the body to produce more white blood cells that can fight disease.
Pineapple - Have you ever experienced a tingling sensation in your mouth after eating pineapple? That sensation is actually caused by a group of digestive enzymes found in pineapples called bromelain. Bromelain breaks down protein molecules, making them more easily absorbed in the small intestine. As a result, pineapple is great for easing digestion.
Oranges, Lemons, Limes and Grapefruit - Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C. In fact, just a single orange contains 100% of your RDI of vitamin C! However, citrus fruits are also rich in other vitamins and minerals such as potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and copper that promote proper functioning of the body.
Beetroots - Rich in calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, folic acid, manganese and potassium, beetroots have become an incredibly popular option for smoothies and juices alike. Its plant pigment, betacyanin, not only give beetroots its rich purple-crimson colour but is also though to help suppress the development of some types of cancer.
Peppers - Belonging to the nightshade family, bell (or sweet) peppers are salad fruits rich in vitamins C, B6, B9 (also known as folate), K1, E and A, supporting a variety of body functions including the formation of red blood cells, the preservation of nerves and muscles and blood clotting.
Celery - At just 10 calories a stalk, celery's claim to fame may be that it's long been considered a low-calorie "diet food." Surprisingly, celery has a number of health benefits, including antioxidants to protect cells, blood vessels and organs from oxidative damage, anti-inflammatory properties that support the digestive tract and a high-water content to keep you hydrated!
Spinach - Considered a superfood and known for its nutritional qualities, spinach has always been a popular addition to smoothies, juices and meals. From vitamin A to vitamin K, spinach is an excellent source of variety of vitamins and minerals, but is most well-known for its iron content, playing a central role in the transportation of oxygen around the body.
Add a healthy source of fat to your smoothie to promote satiety, keeping you full and nourished. Healthy fats are also a great way to make your smoothie creamier and more indulgent!
Pistachios - Botanically, pistachios are actually seeds as opposed to nuts, and contain high levels of unsaturated fatty acids that help to keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol in check. The high fibre, protein and fat content of pistachios are ideal for adding to your smoothies to keep hunger at bay.
Almond Butter - High in monounsaturated fats, almond butter can help to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, which could aid in the prevention of heart disease. Plus, omega-3 fatty acids found in almond butter can also help to prevent irregular heart rhythms, whilst vitamin E can stop plaque build-up in your arteries.
Cacao - For a chocolatey twist to a smoothie, cacao powder or cacao nibs can be added in place of cocoa powder. From reducing symptoms of digestive disorders such as IBS to reducing the risk of some cancers, diabetes, arthritis and depression, cacao is though to have a range of healing properties.
Add liquid to your smoothie until you've reached your desired consistency. For a thicker smoothie (or smoothie bowl), add less liquid and for a thinner smoothie, add more liquid. Always add liquid before adding powders or ice to your blender.
Almond Milk - A plant-based alternative to dairy milk, just 240ml of almond milk is equal to 25% of your daily vitamin D intake, 20-50% of your daily vitamin E intake and many are fortified with calcium to provide 20-45% of your recommended daily intake.
Natural Apple or Orange Juice - Fresh pressed apple or orange juice can also be used for extra sweetness.
Coconut Water - Coconut water is the juice found in the center of a young, green coconut. Coconut water is a rich source of electrolytes - minerals that play important role in maintaining the fluid balance in our bodies. This makes it the perfect choice of liquid for a post-workout smoothie, as it helps to restore hydration and replenish electrolytes lost during exercise.
Switch your smoothie up with a few additional extras - adding both flavour and nutrients!
Ginger - Originating in South East Asia, ginger has used been used medicinally for hundreds of years and is heroed for its healing properties. Aiding digestion, reducing nausea, and fighting viral infections are all thought to be benefits of ginger supplementation, whilst new research has also linked ginger to improved haemoglobin A1c, a marker for long term blood sugar levels.
Mint Leaves - The addition of mint leaves to your smoothies and juices will be sure to leave you with fresh smelling breath, but their health benefits go beyond good oral hygiene. A good source of vitamin A, mint is great for eye health and night vision, whilst menthol (found in peppermint oil) has also been linked to relief from indigestion and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
Honey - Whilst honey only contains trace amounts of several vitamins and minerals, honey is a great option in place of sugar as a sweetener thanks to its lower calorie content. For those that are vegan, this could also be replaced with agave syrup, or dates for an extra burst of fibre!
Protein Powder/Yoghurt - If you're opting to make your smoothie into a meal, add a quality source of protein such as a scoop of protein powder or a tablespoon of Greek or soy yoghurt. Protein is considered the most filling macronutrient, reducing the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin and boosting levels of peptide YY (a hormone that makes you feel full).
Ice Cubes - Ice cubes can be added to your blender with the fruits and vegetables to make for an cool and refreshing drink.
Experiment with your own personal favourite flavour combinations to find what you most enjoy or use the guide above to promote optimal health based on your own personal situation. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet.
We've put together a selection of our favourite smoothie recipes to get you started!
Apples, pears, spinach and ginger come together to make this vitamin packed green smoothie.
With sweet cantaloupe melon, zingy citrus fruit and refreshing mint, this hydrating, energy...
With cantaloupe melon, pears, strawberries and celery, this smoothie packs a nutrition filled punch!
A velvety smooth blend of pink and red fruits and vegetables to be shared with your loved ones on...
Packed with vitamin D, this Sunshine Smoothie is sure to brighten your day. Made with the Dualit...