What you add to your smoothie can quickly tip the balance from a healthy drink to a sugary shake.
If you are working hard at being healthier, or trying to reduce the added sugar in your diet, what are the smoothie ingredients you should use to get the balance of your blend just right?
We’ve asked a team of nutritionists list of their top five, natural smoothie ingredients that are big on goodness and flavour, but low on sugar – they also let us in on the foods to avoid.
Best low sugar smoothie ingredients
As well as being packed with “YUM”, berries are bursting with nutrients, a good source of fibre and contain fewer kilojoules per serve than many other fruits. What’s not to love! Bring on more raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.
It’s not just for smashing on toast. Adding avocado to a smoothie gives it a deliciously creamy texture (no need for ice-cream) and tonnes of goodness. Avocados are nutrient dense and an excellent source of good fat. The healthy fat in avocados may also help keep you feeling full for longer and help control your appetite.
3. Nut milks
There is no added sugar in unsweetened nut milks with popular brands like So Good Unsweetened Almond Milk containing just 0.1g of sugar per 100ml – that is 97% less sugar than lite dairy milk. So Good Unsweetened Almond Milk is also high in calcium, a source of Vitamins B12, B2 and E and 98.5% fat free. And, if you like the flavour of coconut, mix it up with a coconut and almond unsweetened milk - yum.
Forget the sweet stuff and flavour up with spices like cinnamon, ginger and turmeric. You can get creative with delicious fruit and spice flavour combinations – think apple and cinnamon – with the added benefit that many spices also have anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Whole grains
If you are starting your day with a smoothie, it's important to add in some whole grain cereal to provide the low GI carbohydrates your body needs to replenish fuel supplies and get moving in the morning. Adding more whole grains to your diet could also help you achieve a smaller waist, a flat belly, healthier heart and a happier gut - and that’s just the start.
Now for the no-nos
If you want to cut back on sugar, try to limit fruit juices, flavoured yoghurts, some protein powders (check the label) and the so-called healthy syrups, such as rice syrup and malt syrup (which are just sugar!).
Also, you can have too much of a good thing and it’s easy to keep slurping on a smoothie. If you are having your smoothie as a quick snack, keep the serve size small, and be mindful about adding too much nuts and other healthy fats like avocadoes and even protein powders. But, if you start your day with a smoothie, including some wholegrains, nut spread and a few slices of avocado will increase the nutritional value and help set you up for a busy morning.