Smoothies are a great way to get your daily dose of greens. But when it comes to choosing the best greens for your smoothie, you can become overwhelmed with all the options available. Whether you’re new to smoothies or an experienced enthusiast, this blog post will help guide you through which greens are best for your smoothies and how to use them. So let’s begin our exploration of healthy greens for smoothies.
This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Why Are Leafy Greens Good for You?
Leafy greens are nutrient dense foods. They are low in calories but high in essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Leafy greens contain powerful antioxidants that help protect your body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals. Eating leafy greens regularly can reduce your risk for various diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Adding leafy green vegetables to your diet is also an easy way to improve your mental health. Research shows that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, especially berries, citrus, and green leafy vegetables, increases optimism and reduces psychological distress and depressive symptoms.
What Is a Green Smoothie?
A green smoothie is a smoothie made primarily with leafy greens that give it a green color. Frozen fruit, some type of liquid, and other ingredients can be added to create a smooth texture and make it tastier.
Green smoothies make a great breakfast, but you can also enjoy them for an afternoon snack or any time of day. They’re refreshing and can help reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
Adding Greens to Your Fruit Smoothie
You don’t have to drink a green smoothie to enjoy the benefits of greens. Adding a handful of healthy greens to your regular fruit smoothie is the perfect solution. This will give you a great nutrient boost without changing the flavor too much or at all.
Adding greens to a smoothie is an excellent way to get quality nutrition in a tasty and convenient package. Not only will the smoothie taste delicious, but it’s an easy way to get several servings of fruits and vegetables and lots of nutrients in one drink.
If you start with a mild leafy green, such as baby spinach, you won’t notice any difference at all in the taste or texture. You (or your kids) won’t even notice a change in color, especially if the smoothie has vibrant fruits like berries.
Experiment with different combinations of veggies and fruits until you find one that suits your tastes. You may find that adding some greens to your smoothie makes it even more flavorful and nourishing.
The Best Healthy Greens for Smoothies
Spinach and kale are some of the most popular healthy greens for smoothies, but there are so many other choices. Branch out and experiment!
Spinach (especially baby spinach) has a mild, slightly sweet taste that blends well with other ingredients like fruits, yogurt, and milk. The texture of the spinach is light and airy, so it won’t overpower the other ingredients in your smoothie. Try my recipe for Mango Chocolate Smoothie with Spinach.
Kale has a stronger flavor that pairs well with other fruits and vegetables when added to smoothies. Its crunchy texture gives the beverage more body, making it desirable for those looking for something thicker than juice or milk-based drinks. The sweetness of tropical fruits, such as pineapple and mango, can help to offset the bitterness of kale. Adding yogurt or nut butter can also help to make kale smoothies even creamier and richer in taste.
- Swiss chard
Swiss chard adds an earthy and salty flavor with a hint of sweetness to your smoothie. It adds a creamy texture that is both refreshing and satisfying. The mild taste of Swiss chard pairs well with other ingredients like fruits, nuts, and yogurt.
- Romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce has a mild, sweet taste that blends well with most fruit flavors. Its crunchy texture adds body to the smoothie without making it too thick or heavy. If you have extra romaine lettuce in your fridge, a smoothie is a great way to use it up.
- Collard greens
Collard greens offer a unique and delicious twist to any smoothie. When blended, they create a creamy, slightly bitter flavor that can add depth to your recipe. The crunchy texture of the leaves also adds an interesting contrast with the softness of other ingredients, such as bananas or avocados.
- Dandelion greens
Dandelion greens provide a slightly bitter, earthy, and tangy flavor to smoothies. The greens grow more bitter with age, so choose young dandelion greens if you don’t like the bitter taste. You can balance the bitterness of the greens with sweeter fruits like banana or berries.
- Beet greens
Beet greens won’t add a lot of flavor to your smoothie because they are so mild. They are not bitter like some other greens and add slight earthy notes to the smoothie.
A subtle peppery taste is one of the defining characteristics of watercress. It becomes bitter with age, so you may want to use young watercress leaves.
- Bok choy and baby bok choy
Bok choy and baby bok choy add a unique freshness to smoothies that can help balance out the sweetness of other ingredients. They provide a mild bitter flavor with a peppery aftertaste. Baby bok choy will have a less bitter taste than mature bok choy.
Fresh parsley adds a bright, herby flavor to any smoothie. Adding a handful of chopped parsley into the blender can bring out more depth and dimension in your smoothie’s taste. Use different variations of this herb, such as flat-leaf or curly leafed varieties for different flavor profiles. You can use fresh parsley as an ingredient in the smoothie or sprinkled on top as a garnish.
Fresh mint adds an unexpected zing to the sweetness of a smoothie and an overall refreshing quality. The flavor is sweet and herbal but still light enough not to overwhelm other ingredients. Adding a few leaves of fresh mint to your smoothie can elevate the flavor profile and make it stand out from other recipes.
Microgreens are the young plants of vegetables and herbs. Microgreens sometimes have more nutrients than their mature plants. They offer a variety of colors and flavors depending on the type you choose. Most microgreens taste a lot like their mature counterparts. The most common types of microgreens for smoothies include sunflower, turnip, sweet pea, beet, and kale.
Fresh basil adds a delicate, refreshing flavor to smoothies. Its mild sweetness enhances the taste of other fruits and vegetables in the blend, while its subtle herbal undertones add complexity and depth. Whether you use it as a garnish or blend it into your smoothie for added flavor, fresh basil will make your smoothie even more delicious.
Cilantro’s lemony flavor pairs well with both sweet and savory ingredients. But it also gives a peppery taste. Remember to use it in moderation as too much can overpower the other flavors of your smoothie.
Tips for Adding Healthy Greens to Smoothies
- Use frozen greens and fruit. It eliminates the need for ice, and your smoothie will have an extra creamy texture.
- Start small with one handful of greens per serving. If you’re not used to them, adding too many greens at once can overpower the flavor of your smoothie and make it unappetizing.
- Blend the greens and liquid first and then add other ingredients into the mix. The greens will blend better.
- Balance flavors by using other fruits and vegetables to complement the taste of the greens. For example, try adding a banana or mango for extra sweetness.
- If possible, use a high-speed blender so that all ingredients are blended well without having chunks of fruits and vegetables in it.
- Add other nutritious add-ins to your smoothie, such as flaxseed meal or chia seeds, for fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. These will also thicken up the texture of the smoothie.
- Use added sweeteners sparingly as they can add extra calories and sugar to your smoothie.
- For a thicker consistency, try adding Greek yogurt or nut butters. Both of these ingredients will also add more protein and healthy fats to your smoothie.
Smoothies are an easy way to get creative in the kitchen and find the perfect combination of flavors for your own personal taste. And there are many healthy greens for smoothies that provide loads of nutrients, including some that are especially good for mental health (B vitamins including folate, iron, vitamin K, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C). So have some fun in the kitchen and see what unique smoothie concoctions you come up with.