Toi Degree: Smoothies are a good source of nutrients

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 24, 2023

By Toi Degree
N.C. Cooperative Extension

Just in case you didn’t know, Wednesday was National Smoothie Day. I know that smoothies have become a craze, and some people think that they are overrated. But did you also know that smoothies are quite beneficial? Smoothies are a wonderful, convenient, delicious and healthy way to get a variety of nutrients into your diet. They can help promote digestive health, boost energy and brain function, support weight management, and are versatile and customizable to suit individual preferences.

Smoothies also may serve as a convenient meal replacement if you’re making sure it is really replacing a meal, meaning that you are aware of calorie content — not too few calories but also not too many calories either. Smoothies can be a vehicle for many nutrients considered essential to the human body. It all depends on what ingredients are used. Most of the healthy nutrients in our smoothies will come from fruit or vegetables used. The benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables include lower risk of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Here is a list of nutrients found in common smoothie ingredients and why they are good for you:

Vitamins and minerals

Fruits and vegetables are not only rich in color but also in vitamins and minerals, which perform important functions in the body. Vitamins and minerals are needed to build tissues like skin and bones, keep systems running like the immune system, repair damage and hundreds of other roles in the body. Dairy is high in calcium and vitamin D, which are needed to keep our bones strong among other things.


Smoothies are generally composed of blended whole fruit, which has two parts: the juice and the pulp. The pulp is where the fiber is located. Fiber creates bulk and thus contributes to a healthy digestive tract by slowing digestion and sugar absorption.


Water is essential to live. Because fruits and vegetables are largely composed of water and contain some of the minerals needed to rehydrate, smoothies are a great way to become and stay hydrated.


Protein is an essential nutrient found throughout the body — in muscle, bone, skin, red blood cells and hair just to name a few. It is the basic building block for every tissue. Protein can be obtained in a smoothie in several ways, including dairy, peanut, and other nut butters, whole nuts, seeds, legumes and protein powders or supplements. High protein smoothies or protein shakes are most commonly used by bodybuilders and athletes, but they can also be beneficial to people suffering from protein deficiency, pregnant women and older adults.

Health concerns

Although smoothies can contain many health-promoting nutrients, they can have negative health consequences if consumed in excess. The most significant concern is the possible high sugar content, which can contribute to the development of dental caries (cavities), tooth erosion and obesity. Fruit contains high amounts of natural sugars and acid, which can erode the enamel of teeth if they come in contact frequently. Also, smoothies are commonly created with additional sweeteners such as ice cream, honey or sweetened yogurt that can contribute to even higher sugar content.

There is also concern that consumption of smoothies may contribute to obesity. This is because liquid (or semi-liquid) foods do not satisfy hunger and appetite as well, or as long as solid food. By drinking calories rather than eating them, more calories could be consumed later in order to satisfy hunger. Keeping this in mind, smoothies should be consumed in moderation, taking into account your caloric needs. To calculate your caloric needs, go to On this website, you can calculate your dietary needs and track how your diet matches those needs.

Another health concern is the use of smoothies in cleanses such as the “Green Smoothie Cleanse,” a common diet in recent years (Amidor, 2016). This can be a dangerous practice due to the extremely low amount of energy consumed (usually less than 1,000 calories) and can lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients. Its claimed purpose is to remove supposed toxins from the body, allowing for more adequate absorption of nutrients and promoting weight loss. The liver and kidneys are extraordinary organs that perform wondrous functions for the body. One of these functions is to remove actual toxins from the body, a process they can perform without the assistance of a cleanse (Amidor, 2016; Slavin-Lloyd, 2012).

In conclusion, smoothies can be a great way to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables in our diet, which could have many health benefits. However, they may contain large amounts of added or natural sugars, which can contribute to dental problems and obesity. To avoid these potential negative effects, look for smoothies without added sugar, and consume them in moderation.

Take away

A great way to avoid added sugars is by making your own smoothies.

For smoothie recipes:

Toi N. Degree is family and consumer education agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Toi may be reached by phone at 704-216-8970 or by email at

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