Dear LIVESTRONG reader, this list is would not be possible without you! Out of the sea of smoothie recipes promising to be the perfect blend of flavor and good health, you knew what you were looking for. These are your favorite smoothie recipes, the ones you go to time and time again.
Ranging from refreshingly light to deliciously decadent, one thing they have in common is whole-food ingredients packed with unique nutrients for good health, from post-workout recovery to revving metabolism to boosting brain health. Without further ado, here are the 10 best LIVESTRONG smoothies according to our readers.
1. Blueberry, Cucumber and Green Tea Smoothie
When you see cucumbers in a smoothie, you know it’s going to be refreshing, and this one delivers. The cucumbers combined with a tiny bit of honey take the edge off of pleasantly tart blueberries and delicately bitter green tea. The splash of fresh lime juice rounds out the flavors with a punch of brightness.
This feast of antioxidants (vitamin C, anthocyanins and polyphenols, to name a few) is still mostly water, so it hydrates while fighting off everyday oxidative insults from pollution and chronic stress, and its potassium helps flush out sodium bloat. You’ll get a serving and a half of blueberries in every glass, putting you well on your way to the two servings of berries per week linked to better brain health.
2. Sunshine Smoothie
Tropical and creamy, you could mistake this protein-packed smoothie for a frothy poolside treat. Mango, vanilla and almonds take your senses to balmy seashores, while tangy kefir gently reminds you that you’re getting a dose of probiotics to keep your gut microbiome in good shape.
The everyday workhorse of this smoothie is its foundation of cottage cheese, which provides 50 percent of the entire day’s recommended protein intake, an excellent source of calcium for strong teeth and bones and a good source of energizing anemia-fighting vitamin B12.
3. Banana, Pear, Cinnamon and Coriander Smoothie
This warmly-spiced vegan smoothie gets its creamy texture from bananas, pears, and a secret ingredient (protein-packed cooked quinoa!). You’ll love the earthy aromatic cinnamon and coriander, two items from your spice rack being studied for their anti-inflammatory qualities.
Slightly unripe bananas offer resistant starch, a kind of fiber aptly named because it "resists" digestion and moves slowly through the body. A 2008 Swedish study found resistant starch can help people feel full and eat less, though more research is needed to confirm these results. But it won’t raise your blood sugar, since it bypasses absorption in the small intestine.
4. Grapefruit, Ginger and Turmeric Smoothie
This lively smoothie will invigorate your senses with refreshing grapefruit, eye-opening ginger and warm turmeric. While this smoothie excites your palate, it also has a soothing effect on inflammation. Red grapefruit offers the antioxidant lycopene, which can thwart the oxidative damage to cells that ultimately leads to signs of aging.
Ginger is known for its stomach-settling and nausea-fighting properties, but it’s also known to reduce pain for osteoarthritis sufferers. Turmeric has similar benefits for osteoarthritis, and has worked as well as ibuprofen for pain relief. It’s topped off by heart-healthy hemp hearts, which have twice as much protein as flax or chia with a third of the carbs.
5. Coconut and Citrus Sunshine Smoothie
Got a sweet tooth? This decadent smoothie is a healthier alternative to typical desserts, and with more wholesome ingredients, too. With rich flavors from coconut milk and cashews, you won’t feel like you’re skimping.
This generously portioned smoothie is a suitable snack for two people or a post-workout meal for one, coming in at nearly 600 calories. The potassium-packed bananas and oranges banish bloating and can help keep blood pressure down. Mango is an amazing source of brain-boosting antioxidant vitamin C and an excellent source of heart-healthy folate, which is also known for its role in healthy pregnancy outcomes.
6. Kiwi, Zucchini and Apple Smoothie
This brightly-hued tonic gets its green from a blend of kale, kiwi, zucchini and green apple. The sweet, tart, and earthy flavors are combined with more mellow notes from coconut water and a drizzle of honey.
This combination of ingredients is a potassium powerhouse for post-workout hydration, and replenishing the electrolytes lost through sweat. Zucchini provides several B-vitamins, which are essential for energy production and a well-tuned metabolism. With this green smoothie, you get three to four servings of fruits and vegetables and a good source of fiber for under 200 calories.
7. Creamy Avocado, Apple and Asparagus Smoothie
This pleasantly vegetal smoothie gets a touch of sweetness and levity from apples, lemon juice and a little honey. Avocados make this smoothie incredibly creamy and delicious. Nutritionists love avocados for their heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, filling fiber and anti-inflammatory and brain-boosting lutein (which is also what makes avocados green).
A 2017 study published in Nutrients on avocados and lutein found that eating an avocado a day improves memory and attention. The leafy greens are another "smart" addition as 2015 research links daily greens to better brain health in the long run.
8. Chocolate Nutter Butter Smoothie
Rich and velvety, this smoothie is a better-for-you way to satisfy a sweet tooth, and its high protein content does double-duty to keep you full and repair your muscles after a challenging workout. Its 37 grams of protein comes from whey protein powder, probiotic-rich kefir (a fermented dairy drink) and pecans. The bananas provide a potassium punch for rehydration, and cacao polyphenols improve blood flow for better nutrient and oxygen delivery.
9. Creamy Chocolate, Cannellini Bean and Cinnamon Smoothie
While this sounds like a dreamy milkshake, be assured that it’s a superfood smoothie. Chocolate’s flavonoids protect cells from the daily damage caused by free radicals. The cannellini beans are mild, creamy and full of filling fiber and plant protein (good for you, good for the planet).
A 2016 study from the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Science shows cinnamon can help reduce blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. Plus, it adds an intense flavor without calories, sugar, salt or saturated fat.
10. Carrot, Mandarin and Cayenne Smoothie
This tangy, peppery, almost savory smoothie gets a kick from cayenne, a base note from carrots and almonds and a smooth sweetness from apples, mandarins and lemon juice. According to a 2015 review in Open Heart, capsaicin, the component of cayenne pepper that makes it spicy, can give metabolism a moderate booster shot.
Almonds are heart-healthy and a source of protein and fiber (a.k.a. fuel for gut bacteria). Carrots are an outstanding source of vitamin A, providing more than an entire day’s worth in one serving. Vitamin A is so important for a healthy immune system and good vision. Just stick to food sources, like the carrots in this amazing smoothie.