Mistakes That Are Making Your Smoothie Unhealthy

Smoothies are a quick way to prepare a snack or meal. While these blended drinks are often touted as healthy, it's easy to go overboard with less-than-ideal ingredients. Here are some mistakes to avoid when making your next smoothie.

All smoothies need a liquid ingredient to create a smooth drink instead of a chopped fruit and vegetable salad. Fruit juice is a popular option because it adds flavor and sweetness, but it's best to avoid this ingredient. According to Eat This, Not That!, adding just half a cup of orange or apple juice to your smoothie adds 50 calories and 10 to 12 grams of sugar. Whole fruits add plenty of flavor to your smoothie and come with good-for-you fiber that is lost in juicing. Use unsweetened plant-based milk or water as your liquid instead.

Fiber and vitamins don't mean you should only rely on fruit in your smoothie, however. While fruit is a necessary addition to your diet, gulping down a huge serving at once can spike your blood sugar. Fruit also doesn't contain a lot of protein, so a fruit-only smoothie isn't likely to keep you full for long. Add protein powder, nut butter, or Greek yogurt to make your smoothie more filling.

It's easy to go overboard with sugar in your smoothies

Fruit juice isn't the only way extra sugar can sneak into your snack. While yogurt is a great smoothie addition because it adds creaminess, protein, and probiotics, many store-bought varieties are often loaded with added sweeteners. Some fruit-on-the-bottom varieties can have as much as 24 grams of sugar in a single container (via Greatist). If you want to add yogurt to your smoothie, opt for unsweetened versions with a decent amount of protein like Greek yogurt.

Sweetened milk and a large amount of high-sugar fruits like bananas, pineapples, and mangoes can also bump up the amount of sugar in your smoothie. Be mindful of all your ingredients and try to cut down on sugar when possible. And avoid the temptation of drizzling in some honey, maple syrup, or agave. If your smoothie isn't sweet enough for your preference, add in some more fruit. You can also throw in one or two dates, which add plenty of natural sweetness but contain a decent amount of fiber to counteract the sugar.