Green Smoothies: Nutrition, Calories, and Benefits

Green smoothies are still stars in the health and wellness world.

Rumored to help with everything from weight loss to acne, green smoothies remain a favorite of nutritionists, fitness influencers, and medical professionals.

But do green smoothies deserve their reputation as staples in the health and diet worlds?

This article answers all your questions about green smoothies, including whether they’re healthy, whether they can help you lose weight, and how to make your own green smoothies at home.

You can define green smoothies as smoothies that typically contain leafy greens such as kale or spinach — hence their green appearance.

You can buy premade green smoothies at many grocery and convenience stores. Some health foods stores and juice bars allow you to customize green smoothies to your liking.

Plus, you can find thousands of green smoothie recipes online that you can make at home with just a few ingredients and your blender.

Ingredients and nutrition breakdown

Your smoothie’s nutrition depends on the ingredients you use.

For example, smoothies made with only fruits and vegetables are lower in protein and healthy fats than green smoothies made with ingredients such as protein powders and nut butters.

Here’s a nutrition comparison between an 8-ounce (240-mL) serving of a store-bought green smoothie containing just fruits and vegetables and the same serving of a homemade green smoothie made with protein powder and avocado.

As you can see, you’re drinking two completely different green smoothies with different nutrients, despite the similar calorie intake.

The Naked Juice smoothie consists of fruit purees, fruit juices, and vegetables — all low in protein and fat. It also lacks fiber.

Protein, fiber, and fat are essential components of a balanced and satisfying meal because these nutrients help regulate your appetite. For example, protein is the most filling macronutrient and can help you feel satisfied between meals (1).

Although smoothies made entirely of fruits and vegetables boast a variety of vitamins, minerals, and essential plant compounds, they won’t keep you full for long.

However, you don’t have to consider this a bad thing, especially if you’re drinking a fruity green smoothie alongside a satisfying meal that’s rich in protein, fiber, and fat.

If you’re seeking something filling or looking to add extra protein after a workout, consider adding some high protein ingredients such as protein powder or Greek yogurt.

In general, green smoothies are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and bioactive plant compounds — all of which are essential in staying healthy.

Summary

Green smoothies are smoothies that often contain green leafy vegetables such as kale. The nutritional content of green smoothies varies, but they typically provide vitamins and minerals.

Generally speaking, you can consider green smoothies a healthy choice.

They’re an easy way for kids and adults to consume more servings of vegetables and fruits. Embrace them as a quick and easy option for a filling snack or a light meal, depending on which ingredients you use.

However, keep in mind that your diet and lifestyle as a whole determine your overall health.

Though adding green smoothies to your diet can improve your nutrient intake and certain markers of your health, green smoothies can’t make up for an unhealthy diet, lack of sleep, or sedentary lifestyle.

Here are a few reasons you may want to add green smoothies to your diet.

Excellent source of nutrients

One of the top reasons to drink green smoothies is their nutrient content.

Most green smoothies are packed with fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamins and minerals as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant plant compounds.

Drinking green smoothies could help you meet your nutrient needs, especially if you’re looking for more vitamins and minerals.

For example, potassium, calcium, and fiber are considered “nutrients of public health concern” because most people don’t consume enough of them. Ingredients used in green smoothies, such as kale, provide all three of these nutrients (2, 3, 4).

In addition, most people also consume insufficient amounts of magnesium and vitamin C (5, 6, 7).

Fortunately, just one green smoothie containing 1 cup (20.6 grams) of kale, half an avocado (100 grams), and a large banana (136 grams) can provide 53% of your Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C and 25% of your DV for magnesium (4, 8, 9).

This means you could cover a huge portion of your vitamin and mineral needs by drinking one green smoothie per day, depending on its ingredients.

In addition to providing vitamins and minerals, green smoothies can be a convenient, quick source of protein if they include protein powders or Greek yogurt.

Convenient and versatile

Green smoothies are easy to make and don’t require any cooking skills.

Plus, you can make them in large batches and store them in the fridge. This can be helpful if you’re looking to do easy and efficient meal prep.

What’s more, you can tailor your green smoothies to your taste preferences. Don’t like kale? No problem — add some other leafy greens, such as spinach or romaine.

You can also make green smoothies higher or lower in calories, protein, and fat, depending on whether you’re looking for a nutritious snack or a filling on-the-go meal.

Could improve certain aspects of health

Research shows that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may improve many aspects of your health.

For example, adding more produce to your diet by drinking whole fruit and vegetables in your green smoothies may help reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers and help you live longer (10, 11).

However, remember that these health benefits have more to do with consuming fresh fruits and vegetables than consuming smoothies themselves. It all comes back to fresh, nutritious ingredients.

Prioritize getting enough whole fruits and vegetables in your diet. If green smoothies help you reach the recommended intake of at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, then green smoothies can be your key to healthy living.

Keep in mind that the average U.S. adult consumes only 1 serving of fruit and 1.5 servings of vegetables per day, so adding a green smoothie to your daily diet may be an excellent choice (11).

Summary

Green smoothies are nutritious and easy to make, and they may help you meet the recommended intake for nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

As with most nutrition-related topics, many people have questions about green smoothies and their health benefits.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about green smoothies.

Are they helpful for weight loss?

Not really. Adding a green smoothie to your diet without making other changes to your diet or activity level won’t help you lose weight.

However, if you’re replacing a high calorie snack or meal with a green smoothie, you may find that it helps you manage your weight over time.

For example, if you replace your usual snack of a candy bar and chips with a green smoothie, then you may take in fewer calories. This can result in weight loss, but other factors, such as physical activity and gut health, also play a role in weight management (12).

But don’t think of green smoothies as your magic potion for weight loss.

Instead of focusing on one food or beverage, it’s more effective to look at your diet and lifestyle as a whole. Make healthy changes to promote weight loss, such as reducing your fast food intake and taking more steps every day.

Are they a good choice for meal replacement?

It depends.

Could a green smoothie made with frozen fruit, veggies, protein power, and nut butter be a good choice for breakfast or lunch? Yes.

However, you’d need a higher calorie green smoothie in order to feel full enough to replace your meal.

Remember that most green smoothies available in stores contain only fruit and vegetable purees. These smoothies don’t contain enough calories or protein to be a suitable meal choice.

Do you have to use greens or vegetables in your smoothie for it to be considered healthy?

No. Some people find it unpleasant to drink raw greens or veggies. That’s fine — everyone has their preferences.

If you prefer fruit smoothies, drink fruit smoothies. The absence of greens does not mean that fruit smoothies are less healthy.

As long as you’re getting your 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, feel free to drink any smoothie you’d like.

Are they a safe choice for people with diabetes?

Yes, green smoothies can be a good choice for people with diabetes.

However, people with prediabetes or diabetes may want to add a source of protein, reduce the smoothie’s fruit content, and add more leafy greens, such as kale.

This can ensure that the smoothie promotes better blood sugar management.

For example, a green smoothie made with pea protein powder, 1 cup (142 grams) of frozen mixed berries, a handful or two of kale, and a quarter of an avocado is both diabetes-friendly and high in protein, fiber, and fat.

Adding protein to a carbohydrate-rich meal slows your digestion and may help decrease your blood sugar levels. Plus, consuming optimal protein each day may help improve insulin resistance and blood sugar levels (13, 14).

Are they OK for kids?

Yes!

In fact, a small 2021 study that included 68 preschoolers found that 84.3% of the kids in the group tasting smoothies made with fruit and dark green vegetables willingly tasted all five green smoothies and rated the green smoothies as “moderately liked” (15).

Plus, the kids’ green smoothies intake helped them reach 31% of the weekly dark green vegetable recommendation set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (15).

Kids can help you make green smoothies by tossing fruits or vegetables into the blender and choosing which fruits and vegetables they’d like to try.

If you’re purchasing a premade green smoothie for your child, consider choosing one that contains no added sugar.

Summary

Green smoothies can be a good choice for kids and people with conditions such as diabetes, but they’re not a magic bullet for weight loss. If drinking a smoothie as a meal, make sure it has enough calories and protein to keep you satisfied.

Whether you’re making green smoothies at home or purchasing premade smoothies from a smoothie shop or a grocery store, you can keep a few tips in mind:

  • Read the ingredients. Some premade green smoothies contain added sugars. It’s best to skip sugar-sweetened beverages whenever possible and stick with green smoothies made with no added sugar instead.
  • Make sure it contains enough calories and protein. If you want a smoothie to replace a meal, make sure it has enough calories and protein. Everyone has different needs, but smoothies with less than 350 calories and 15 grams of protein may not keep you satisfied.
  • Use ingredients that you like. There’s no reason to chug a green smoothie that you hate just because it’s healthy. Try making green smoothies with ingredients that you prefer, such as fruits, vegetables, honey, protein powder, and nut butter.

So, now that you know green smoothies can make a healthy addition to your diet, you’re probably wondering how you can make one at home.

Here’s a recipe for a simple and delicious green smoothie that you can whip up in just a few minutes:

Simple green smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 large banana (frozen in chunks if possible)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 cups (60 grams) leafy greens of your choice (spinach or kale works well)
  • 1/2 green apple, sliced
  • 1–2 scoops (30–60 grams) unsweetened vanilla pea protein powder
  • 2–2 1/2 cups (470–590 mL) milk of your choice (or enough to make the smoothie come together)

Directions

Add the ingredients to a blender and blend on medium to high speed until smooth and creamy. This recipe makes about 2 servings.

Summary

You can make easy green smoothies with a few simple ingredients. If buying premade green smoothies, choose products with no added sugar and make sure they contain enough calories and protein if you’re looking to use them as meal replacements.

Green smoothies can help you meet your nutrient needs and are a delicious way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

A green smoothie can be a great choice for you or your kids. If you live with a health condition such as diabetes or are looking to lose weight the healthy way, you can blend up a green smoothie too.

However, it’s not necessary to drink green smoothies if you don’t like them.

Remember, your diet and lifestyle as a whole is what matters most when it comes to health. Focus on getting enough fruits and veggies in general — with or without green smoothies.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/green-smoothie-calories