The 9 Best Smoothie Ingredients, According to a Dietitian

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The 9 Best Smoothie Ingredients of 2021, According to a Dietitian

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Our Top Picks
"This is Non-GMO Project Verified, keto certified, paleo certified, gluten free, vegan, Whole 30 Approved, and kosher."
"It is certified non-GMO and USDA organic."
"These dates are naturally grown and handpicked in the Coachella Valley of southern California. "
"Free of gums, additives, artificial flavors, gluten, and soy, this powder is great for those with food sensitivities."
"These chia seeds are organic, non-GMO, and naturally gluten-free."
"Flax seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and magnesium."
"With only four ingredients, Malk keeps things really simple."
"This powder is made from single origin, Fairtrade certified, and USDA organic cacao beans."
"It's made by roasting and grinding blanched, dry roasted peanuts until they are wonderfully creamy."

Smoothies are an incredible way to consume a potent dose of nutrients in one meal. Great for picky eaters, folks with little time, or those who would rather not cook, smoothies offer a fast, tasty way to include more vegetables and fruit in the day.

Forget the days of sugar bomb “healthy” smoothies from chain fast food shops. Making your own smoothie at home can help you to control exactly what is in the mix. Smoothies can be delicious and incredibly nutritious, but in order to make this happen, you must be conscious of what you are throwing into the blender. Regardless of whether your goal is weight management or simply improving nutrition, balancing a smoothie with the right amount of fruits, vegetables, and extras (spices, powders, seeds, nut butters, etc.) is critical to making the most of your smoothie. 

Here, the best smoothie ingredients:

Best Overall: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Shelled Hemp Seeds

Shelled hemp seeds, also known as “hemp hearts.” are a healthy way to add variety, taste, and nutrients to your blended smoothie and can also be added as a topping for your smoothie bowl. With 10 grams of plant protein per serving, hemp hearts have two times more protein than chia or flax and offer 12 grams of Omega 3 and 6, with only 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving.

Manitoba’s Hemp Hearts are Non-GMO Project Verified, keto certified, paleo certified, gluten-free, vegan, Whole 30 Approved, and kosher. They are an excellent source of vital nutrients like iron, niacin, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc. Nutrition aside, you can feel good using Manitoba’s Hemp Hearts, because as a Certified B-Corp with a net-zero carbon footprint, sustainability is at the forefront of everything they do.

Best Budget: Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Ceylon Cinnamon Powder

Terrasoul Ceylon Cinnamon powder

Cinnamon adds flavor and depth to a blend, and it may also help stabilize blood sugar.?? Many times organic spices can be very expensive, but not this bulk bag of Organic Cinnamon by TerraSoul Superfoods. Compared to a single 1.6-ounce bottle of organic cinnamon sold at most grocery stores for over $5, this 16-ounce bag of cinnamon is a steal.

Add a teaspoon to your favorite recipe to add warmth and grounding flavors to an otherwise cold beverage, or think of it as another superfood ingredient. If you're worried about sacrificing quality for price, rest assured that TerrasSoul tests their Ceylon cinnamon powder for heavy metals and purity from over 300 chemicals, so you're getting a great product. This product is certified non-GMO and USDA organic.

Best Sweetener: Joolies Organic Whole Medjool Dates

Fruit is an excellent way to sweeten up a smoothie naturally. Ripe bananas and tropical fruits like mango and pineapple are great ways to add sweetness and nutrients; however, sometimes, a smoothie will just call for a touch more sweetness. Dried, Medjool dates are an easy and nutritious way to add sweetness without an overpowering flavor.

Dates are naturally sweet with no added sugar and are low on the glycemic index. Joolies dates are gluten-free, non-GMO vegan fruits that are naturally grown and handpicked in the Coachella Valley of southern California. They’re paleo-friendly and have the following certifications—USDA organic, Kosher, Halal, glyphosate residue-free. Start with one date and adjust as needed. Although this is a more natural way to sweeten up your smoothie, one date does contain roughly 12 grams of sugar.

Best Protein Powder: Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder Original Flavor

Protein is an important component of meal satisfaction and satiety, or how full you remain after a meal throughout a prolonged period of time. Have you ever ordered a smoothie that was just fruit and liquid and felt hungry 30 minutes later? Yes, that is because there was no protein. If you are looking to make your smoothie a meal, aim to include at least 15 grams of protein.

Sprout Living’s Epic Protein powder is vegan, organic, and non-GMO. One serving contains 26 grams of protein and 20% of the daily recommended intake of fiber. Fiber is also an important component of smoothies that can promote satiety and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system. Free of gums, additives, artificial flavors, gluten, and soy, this powder is great for those with food sensitivities. Sprout Living’s Epic Protein powder also contains cranberry seed, which adds a nutrition boost by providing antioxidants and polyphenols to support cognition and mood.

Best Chia: Nutiva Organic Premium Black Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are by far the best option if you are looking for a way to improve your gut health and overall well-being without supplements. Packing 16% of the recommended daily intake of fiber in one tablespoon, these small but mighty seeds are also full of nutrition. Chia seeds are an excellent addition to smoothies, as they contain 3 grams of protein, 4 grams of healthy fat, and 10% of the recommended intake of magnesium.

When in contact with water, chia seeds swell to about ten times their size and form a lubricating gel to help move stool through the intestines. Containing mostly soluble fiber, these superfoods can help lower LDL cholesterol and slow digestion, promoting blood sugar stability.?? These chia seeds are organic, non-GMO, and naturally gluten-free. Nutiva is a certified B corporation, and 1% of their sales goes towards regenerative agriculture.

Best Flax: Spectrum Essentials Flaxseed

Flax seeds may be small, but they are full of nutrition and make an excellent addition to smoothies. Whether you are looking for a way to support optimal heart health, stabilize blood sugar, or improve mood, flax seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and magnesium to help you achieve all of these goals.

Spectrum Organic’s Ground Flax Seeds are cold-milled to preserve nutrition. A 24-ounce bag contains 48 servings and is budget-friendly. This product is gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO.

Best Liquid: MALK Unsweetened MALK, Vanilla Almond

When it comes to liquid bases for smoothies, the options are quite frankly, overwhelming. Dairy milk, water, almond milk, soy milk, oat milk—how to choose? Dairy milk is acceptable for those who are not lactose intolerant or dairy sensitive; however, nut milks provide the creamy consistency of milk without the lactose and with a different nutrition profile.

A general rule of thumb is to look for the least amount of ingredients listed on a nut milk bottle. Fortunately, Malk keeps things really simple. This organic vanilla almond milk is sugar-free, non-dairy, and free of soy and gluten. There are only four ingredients in this product: organic almonds, natural vanilla flavor derived from vanilla beans, Himalayan salt, and filtered water.

The nuts used to make MALK are sprouted overnight and then cold-pressed to preserve nutrients and freshness. The product is also BPA-Free, HKA, Glyphosate Residue-Free Certified, and USDA Certified Organic.

Best Flavor Booster: Navitas Organics Cacao Powder

Did you know that a chocolate smoothie can actually be good for you? It turns out, adding raw cacao powder not only boosts the flavor and deliciousness of smoothies but it can increase the nutritional value as well. Unlike cocoa powder, raw cacao powder is a minimally processed form of the cacao bean that maintains the nutritionally dense properties of the cacao seed.

One serving of Navitas Cacao Powder contains 10% of the daily recommended intake of iron, 25% of the daily recommended intake of magnesium, and 6% of the daily recommended intake of potassium. Navitas Organics Cacao Powder is made from single origin, Fairtrade certified, USDA organic cacao beans, which are grown and processed to benefit its farmers and the planet. Navitas is committed to accuracy and transparency. The company third party tests all products to verify quality and nutritional values.

A note to those who are sensitive to caffeine, one serving of cacao powder (2.5 tablespoons) contains 45 milligrams of caffeine, about half a cup of coffee.

Best Nut Butter: Once Again Organic Unsweetened Creamy Peanut Butter, Lightly Salted

Once Again Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

These days, nut butters are not all created equal. Many are filled with unnecessary added oils and sugars. Once Again keeps things simple and tasty. Their certified organic peanut butter is made by roasting and grinding blanched, dry roasted peanuts until they are wonderfully creamy.
One heaping tablespoon of peanut butter will go a long way to flavor and boost the nutrition of a smoothie. Full of healthy fats and protein, a scoop of peanut butter will help keep you full for hours.

We like that Once Again packs their nut butter in glass jars, which you can recycle or re-use as a cup for your smoothie. Since this product is free of additives and fillers, separation is natural, and there is a 3-month shelf life.

Final Verdict

Smoothies are a quick and easy way to add variety and nutrients to your routine. Increasing the variety of protein and fat sources is crucial to long-term health and well-being. For that reason, Manitoba Hemp Hearts (view at Amazon) takes our pick for the best overall smoothie ingredient. Rich in plant-based protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, these small but mighty seeds will take your smoothie to the next level.

What to Look for in Smoothie Ingredients

Simple Ingredients:

When it comes to smoothies, things can get complicated very quickly. Keep your blend simple by sticking to fruits, vegetables, liquid, protein, and fat. Opt for a liquid with a minimal amount of ingredients listed on the bottle, and be sure that you can identify them all. For items like nut butters or sweeteners, stick to single item ingredients like dates and nut-only nut butters. 

Organic:

If smoothies are a staple, try to buy organic ingredients. Follow the Environmental Working Group’s list of the dirty dozen and try to buy protein powders and superfoods that are organic.

Goal:

When choosing the best ingredients for a smoothie, it is important to think about your wellness goals. For example, if improved digestion is something you are looking for, adding high-fiber “extras” such as flax and chia seeds to the top of your shopping list will help. For blood sugar control and management, making sure your smoothie contains at least 15 grams of protein and a serving or two of healthy fats. A high-quality protein powder and nut butter are helpful for blood sugar control.

Sugar:

As a general rule, we suggest measuring your fruit to no more than one cup to keep sugar levels within a healthy range. Adding fruit will help sweeten smoothies; however, if you need extra sweetness, stick to natural sources like dried fruit, maple syrup, or honey, or try a flavor enhancer like cacao or cinnamon.

FAQs

What are the best smoothie ingredients for weight loss?

Weight loss is highly individual, so what works for one person may not work for another. In general, this holds true for smoothie ingredients; however, making a smoothie that's high in protein and fiber and low in calories and carbohydrates may promote weight loss.

What can I put in a smoothie to make it taste better?

Taste is an individual preference, so something that tastes great to one person may taste horrible to the next. When making a smoothie, think of fruits and vegetables that you enjoy. For example, if you're a fan of berries, perhaps you make a fiber-rich smoothie with frozen strawberries, a bit of peanut butter, a scoop of collagen powder, a handful of spinach, a dash of cinnamon, almond milk, and ice.

If you're looking for more sweetness, try sweetening your smoothie first with fresh or frozen fruit. If that's not enough, try adding a date, maple syrup, or honey.

What Experts Say

"Smoothies are an excellent way to boost your nutrition in a tasty, sweet way. If you love morning smoothies but are strapped for time, consider making your own 'smoothie freezer packs' by combining all smoothie ingredients (except the liquid) in a reusable container and sticking it in the freezer; in the morning, simply combine your mix with liquid and blend."—Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

The products listed in this round-up are items that Sydney Greene, as a registered dietitian and avid smoothie maker, has in her own kitchen as well as items that she would recommend to her clients, friends, and family. Each product has been vetted for quality. She has also read through reviews and product comparisons to choose items that stood out for price and likeability. 

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kizilaslan N, Erdem NZ. The effect of different amounts of cinnamon consumption on blood glucose in healthy adult individuals.?Intern J Food Sci. 2019;2019:1-9. doi:10.1155/2019/4138534

  2. Brown L, Rosner B, Willett WW, Sacks FM. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis.?Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(1):30-42. doi:10.1093/ajcn/69.1.30

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