How You Can Make Your Smoothies Healthier, According to an RD

Here's one more reason not to trash your overripe bananas.

Whether it's because we're doing our very best to stay healthy when sitting around at home or because they take approximately 30 seconds to make (if the ingredients come out of the freezer, even better), searches for smoothie recipes have been soaring since the start of the pandemic.

We're obviously on board. But here's the thing: not all smoothie recipes are created equal. Taste-wise, yes, but nutritionally speaking even more so. Glugging a bunch of orange juice or sweetened yogurt into your smoothie can leave you with a breakfast that packs more sugar than a frosted doughnut (not to mention the need to take a nap before noon). We consulted Luisa Sabogal, RDN, MS, CDE, for the best food groups and ingredients to use when blending smoothies for every dietary need. Here's how to make sure your smoothies are as healthy as possible.

Once you've decided which of the below suits you, try making one of our best healthy smoothies.

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For Breakfast

"In the morning, try to incorporate ingredients that have fiber, healthy fats, and protein to keep you feeling full for longer," says Sabogal. Fiber-rich foods take longer to digest, healthy unsaturated fats slow down stomach emptying, and protein reduces the levels of hunger hormone (ghrelin), making this a perfect combination of nutrients for a breakfast smoothie.

Sabogal recommends a blend of protein-packed oat milk (1 cup; our favorite is Califia Farms Protein Oat), frozen banana (1 sliced), cooked oats (1/2 cup), natural nut butter (1 tablespoon), chia seeds (1/2 tablespoon), a dash of cinnamon, and spinach (1 cup fresh or frozen).

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For After You Exercise

Look for ingredients with anti-inflammatory benefits and protein to help muscle recovery. "Carbohydrates and protein in a three-to-one (carb to protein) ratio helps fuel your body, builds muscle, and anti-inflammatory foods decreases inflammation during muscle recovery," explains Sabogal.

Try blending protein oat milk (1 cup), frozen cherries (3/4 cup), frozen banana (1/2 banana), hemp seeds (1 tablespoon), turmeric (1/4 teaspoon), and a pinch of black pepper to activate turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties.

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To Boost Your Immunity

According to Sabogal, we should use ingredients that are high in antioxidant vitamins C and E, omega-3s, and probiotics, which are all known to help build immunity. "Antioxidants improve immune function by decreasing inflammation, omega-3s increase membrane fluidity in immune cells, and probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria."

Blend a mixture of pineapple (1 cup frozen), lemon juice (1 tablespoon), avocado (1/4 medium size), flax meal (1/2 tablespoon), fresh ginger (1 teaspoon), and unsweetened probiotic-rich yogurt (1 cup).

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