When it comes to the stars of your smoothie, you probably have the same headliners each time: ice cubes, protein and a sweetener, likely low-sugar, and some kind of fruit. But what if you could have all that plus antioxidants, vitamin C, healthy fats, carotenoids and other nutrients that lead to a longer, healthier, happier life—without tossing in a Flintstone’s vitamin? Mix and match any of these amazing 8 superfruits to juice yourself thin.
Nutrition: (1 cup) 103 calories, 24 g sugar, 3 g fiber
This tropical treasure has become increasingly available in American supermarkets, in both fresh and frozen forms. Yes, it’s higher in sugar than almost any other fruit in the produce section, but it also brings to the blender three-quarters of your day’s vitamin C and 25 percent of your vitamin A. Consider added sweeteners entirely superfluous when making smoothies with mango.
Nutrition: (1 cup) 55 calories, 8 g sugar, 3 g fiber
Is there any fruit better for you than papaya? Flooded with vitamin C, replete with vision-strengthening vitamin A, and blessed with one of the most favorable fiber-to-sugar ratios imaginable, papaya proves itself to be one of the most well-rounded foods on the planet. Papaya also boasts papain and chymopapain, two potent enzymes that have been shown to fight inflammation, the cause of asthma, arthritis and other serious conditions.
Nutrition: (1 cup) 84 calories, 15 g sugar, 4 g fiber
Blueberries are best known in health circles for anthocyanins, the phytonutrients that give them their blue-red tint and their dense antioxidant punch. That punch translates into serious brain food, as blueberries have been found in studies to protect our noggins against both oxidative stress and the effects of age-related mental decay manifested in Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Beyond the monster dose of vitamin C (calorie for calorie, you’ll get more C than you’d find in an orange), strawberries also prove to be a rich source of phenols, including the same brain-boosting, anti-inflammatory anthocyanins found in blueberries. They also lay claim to a rare and powerful antioxidant called ellagitannin, which has been shown to provide a stout defense against a variety of cancers.
Nutrition: (1 medium) 105 calories, 14 g sugar, 3 g fiber
Sure, there are fruits with deeper nutritional portfolios, but the humble banana serves as an all-star utility player in the smoothie game. Not only does it offer a handful of hard-to-find nutrients (heart-strengthening potassium, gut-friendly prebiotics), but it also provides smoothies with a balanced, creamy texture and enough natural sweetness to ensure no need for added sugar. Keep a few very ripe bananas in the freezer. When you’re ready for a smoothie, slice off the peel and blend away.
Avocado might not be a traditional smoothie constituent, but we’re convinced that it should be. The calories come primarily from monounsaturated fat, the good stuff that protects your heart and helps beat back hunger. Add to that an impressive fiber load and you have the makings of a seriously satisfying smoothie. Plus, avocados add a richness that makes it feel like you’re splurging, even when you’re not.
Nutrition: (1 cup) 82 calories, 16 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Feeling low on energy? A cup of pineapple might just be the antidote. That’s because pineapple is one of nature’s best sources of manganese, a trace mineral that is essential for energy production. A cup provides 76 percent of your daily recommended intake, making pineapple nature’s answer to Red Bull.
Nutrition: (1 cup) 60 calories, 13 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Peaches pack lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful carotenoids proven to help protect your peepers from macular degeneration. Plus, the blast of beta carotene may help stave off heart disease and cancer. But a USDA survey found that peaches are the most pesticide-laden fruit in the produce section, so if you can afford organic, you might want to spring.