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  • Karen Haralson

Healthy Smoothie Sweeteners

Summer is right around the corner, which means we’re all looking for ways to cool off on hot days. A fruit smoothie is a warm-weather staple and the perfect beverage for a warm day. It’s filling, cold and delicious.



Photo by Giorgi Iremadze on Unsplash



Sugar is fine in moderation, but most fruit that would go into a smoothie already contains plenty of sugar. Unfortunately, this can leave little room to add additional sweetener without ending up with an excessively high-sugar smoothie. Plus, no one wants a sugar crash!


If you are looking to add new flavors and a little extra and natural sweetness to your summer smoothie, look no further: we’ve got great ideas for healthy, easy and delicious ways to sweeten your summer smoothie. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is, of course, derived from fresh or dried coconut meat. Coconut is the edible fruit of the coconut palm, which is a tree of the palm family and frequently grown in the tropics. Coconut oil and coconut milk have many uses in cooking or smoothies, and the flesh can be eaten as well.


Coconut is high in fiber, which will help you stay full, lower glucose levels and lower blood cholesterol. Coconut also contains inflammation-reducer manganese and MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), a type of saturated fat that can be a good energy source and contains fatty acids that combat bacterial growth. A tablespoon of coconut oil in your smoothie is a great way to add rich, buttery sweetness to your summer fruit smoothie.




Stevia

Stevia sweetener comes from the leaf of a stevia plant, which is native to Paraguay and Brazil. This sweetener looks and feels a lot like granulated cane sugar. But the taste is much sweeter than sugar, so a little will go a long way in your smoothie. Stevia may help you manage your blood sugar and some research has linked stevia to increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels. This is a relatively new sweetener, so there is still much to learn about its health benefits.

Maple Syrup

The sap of a maple tree provides us with nature’s ultimate sweetener that has been consumed in North America for many centuries: maple syrup. Canada is maple syrup’s largest producer, though the syrup can be found in most grocery stores. This dark or dark/light, sticky syrup is probably best known for being drizzled on pancakes, but it also makes a fabulous natural sweetener to your smoothie.


While the vitamin content of maple syrup is nothing to write home about, the syrup is high in manganese, which helps promote healthy bones. One tablespoon can contain 33% of your daily value for manganese. Being a plant-based food, maple syrup is high in antioxidants, which reduce the amount of free radicals in your body.



Honey

There’s a lot more to honey than being known as Winnie The Pooh’s favorite snack. Honey starts out as a flower nectar collected by bees and ends up a gooey liquid, similar in texture to maple syrup. Honey has a light golden color, sticky texture and sweet taste.


Honey contains calcium, iron, copper and magnesium. Calcium promotes strong teeth and bones and preservation of strong tissue. Iron helps with oxygen distribution throughout the body, while copper helps with maintaining a healthy nervous system and immune system. Magnesium is a regulator of muscle function, nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. This natural sweetener is an excellent way to boost your smoothie while adding health benefits.





Monk Fruit


This might be one of the more obscure sweeteners on this list. Monk fruit is a small, round fruit that is native to southern China. Part of the gourd family, it is also known as “luo han guo” or “Swingle fruit.”


Monk fruit is cultivated for its sweet-tasting extract- and when we say sweet, we mean 150-250 times sweeter than table sugar! Monk fruit is high in antioxidants, which protect cells from damage from free radicals, and has anti-inflammatory properties.






Cool off on a hot summer day with this sweet and creamy blackberry smoothie! Honey adds sweetness to this smoothie while blackberries and lemon juice give a tart, refreshing flavor. Bananas and Greek yogurt add protein and a creamy texture. Ginger aids digestion and is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. You can use either fresh or frozen blackberries.


Blackberry Smoothie


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

One Serving


INGREDIENTS:


1 cup fresh blackberries

½ medium banana

½ cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger


INSTRUCTIONS:


Combine blackberries, banana, yogurt, honey, lemon juice and ginger in a blender. Cover and process until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.


Enjoy!


Adapted from: www.eatingwell.com




Hannah Moore graduated with a B.S. in Journalism & Mass Communications from San Jose State University and has written for several publications and websites. She is passionate about cooking and food, and how they affect our mental & physical wellbeing.



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