Smoothies have become a popular and convenient way to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Blending fruits and vegetables allows you to consume more produce by drinking it rather than eating it raw. Strawberry banana smoothies are one of the most popular combinations. They have a sweet, fruity flavor that appeals to both kids and adults. But are strawberry banana smoothies actually healthy? Let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits and drawbacks of this sweet treat.
Nutrient Content of Strawberries and Bananas
Strawberries and bananas, the two main ingredients in this smoothie, are both nutrient-dense fruits with many health benefits.
Nutrients in Strawberries
One cup of sliced strawberries provides (1):
- Calories: 49
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 98.6 mg (163% DV)
- Manganese: 0.4 mg (19% DV)
- Folate: 25.2 mcg (6% DV)
- Potassium: 233 mg (5% DV)
- Antioxidants like anthocyanins and ellagic acid
Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, an important antioxidant that supports immune health and iron absorption (2). They also provide fiber, manganese, folate, and potassium.
But beyond their vitamin and mineral content, strawberries contain beneficial plant compounds like anthocyanins, which give them their red color, and ellagic acid. These antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds may protect cells from damage and reduce risk factors for heart disease, cancer, and other conditions (3, 4).
Nutrients in Bananas
One medium banana provides (5):
- Calories: 105
- Fiber: 3.1 grams
- Potassium: 422 mg (12% DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.5 mg (33% DV)
- Vitamin C: 10.3 mg (17% DV)
- Manganese: 0.3 mg (15% DV)
Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium, an electrolyte mineral important for blood pressure, heart health, and nerve and muscle function (6).
They also provide fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese. Unripe (green) bananas are higher in resistant starch, which acts like fiber during digestion (7).
Both strawberries and bananas are relatively low in calories and provide important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant compounds that contribute to an overall healthy diet.
Smoothies Help Increase Fruit and Vegetable Intake
Many people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. On average, only 12.2% of American adults meet the daily recommendations for fruit intake and 9.3% for vegetables (8).
Blending fruits and veggies into smoothies can help increase your daily produce consumption.
In one study in overweight adults, participants were instructed to replace two meals per day with smoothies containing 2 cups (300 grams) of fruits and vegetables. After four weeks, their daily fruit and vegetable intake doubled from 2 to 4 servings (9).
Smoothies provide an easy, convenient way to get multiple servings of produce in one meal. Using smoothies to bump up your fruit and veggie intake can improve your overall diet quality.
Smoothies May Help With Weight Loss
There is some evidence that smoothies may aid weight loss:
- They have a lower energy density than whole fruits and vegetables. Blending produces a liquid with fewer calories per gram than eating the whole produce (10).
- The process of chewing and the fiber content of whole fruits helps make you feel fuller compared to drinking a smoothie. This may lead to increased feelings of fullness and reduced calorie intake (11).
- One study gave obese adults smoothies with either whey protein or soy protein. After six months, both groups lost around 2.3 pounds (1 kg), on average (12).
- Replacing higher-calorie foods and beverages with smoothies containing fruits and veggies can decrease overall calorie intake, potentially supporting weight loss over time (13).
That said, some smoothies can be high in calories when ingredients like fruit juice, ice cream, or added sweeteners are used. Monitoring your ingredients and keeping portions in check is important if weight management is your goal.
Downsides of Smoothies
Smoothies provide an easy way to increase produce intake, but they have some drawbacks:
- Lower fiber content. Blending breaks down the cell walls of whole fruits and vegetables, releasing the fiber. This makes some of the fiber less viscous and lowers its ability to slow digestion and nutrient absorption (14).
- Rapid absorption of sugars. Without fiber acting as a barrier, the natural sugars in liquefied fruit are absorbed more quickly into your bloodstream. This can increase blood sugar spikes compared to eating whole fruit (15).
- Loss of resistant starch. Blending bananas turns the resistant starch into rapidly digestible starch, reducing the blood sugar management benefits (7).
- Potentially lower nutrient content. Certain vitamins like vitamin C and folate can degrade and oxidize after blending due to exposure to light and air (16).
For best results, enjoy smoothies in moderation and vary your intake with whole fruits and vegetables, which provide higher fiber content and nutrients.
Optimal Ingredients for a Healthy Strawberry Banana Smoothie
To maximize the nutritional value of your strawberry banana smoothie, include some of these additional ingredients:
Greek yogurt provides extra protein, calcium, probiotics, and a creamy, smooth texture. Use regular or low fat Greek yogurt.
Ground Flax or Chia Seeds
These provide plant-based omega-3 fats, fiber, and minerals like magnesium and calcium. They help thicken your smoothie too.
Baby Spinach or Kale
Adding spinach or kale boosts vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and antioxidants without drastically altering the flavor.
Cinnamon adds flavor and may help regulate blood sugar levels after your meal.
For extra protein and healthy fats, add a scoop of almond, peanut, or cashew butter.
An easy way to increase plant-based protein, omega-3s, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Provide fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and a boost of magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium.
Healthy Strawberry Banana Smoothie Recipe
This balanced smoothie recipe incorporates several nutritious additions:
- 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 medium banana, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (optional)
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1/2 cup ice
- Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender.
- Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Add more milk or ice to reach desired consistency.
Nutrition Facts (16 ounces):
- Calories: 371
- Total fat: 15g
- Saturated fat: 2g
- Trans fat: 0g
- Sodium: 188mg
- Total carbs: 57g
- Fiber: 11g
- Sugar: 33g
- Protein: 13g
This smoothie provides an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, folate, fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
It’s also lower in calories and sugar compared to smoothies made with fruit juice or added sweeteners like agave. The Greek yogurt and almond butter provide filling protein and healthy fats.
Strawberry banana smoothies can be a nutritious addition to a healthy diet when made with whole food ingredients like fresh or frozen fruit and yogurt. They provide an easy way to increase your intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
To maximize nutrition, avoid added sugars and fill up your blender with fiber-rich greens, healthy fats, plant-based proteins, and anti-inflammatory spices like cinnamon.
Enjoy smoothies in moderation as part of a diet focused on whole fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. With the right ingredients and portions, strawberry banana smoothies can be a delicious and healthy choice.