The Best Smoothie Ingredients for Health and Flavor

A dietitian recommends Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts for flavor and nutrients

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Verywell Fit / Crea Taylor

Smoothies are a delicious and portable way to create a drinkable meal or snack. While you can make a smoothie with just your favorite fruit, vegetables, and milk (dairy or plant-based), there are many ingredients you can use to help transform your smoothie, adding different flavors, textures and nutrients. The best smoothie ingredients not only enhance taste but also provide added nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, as well as some combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Reviewed & Approved

Our top pick is the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Shelled Hemp Seeds because they're packed with protein and fat and can make your smoothie even creamier. Another great ingredient is Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Ceylon Cinnamon Powder, because it adds a nice warm, sweet flavor.

In addition to adding fruits and veggies to your smoothie, incorporating ingredients that offer high-fiber carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein will make your smoothie more filling, providing a steady source of energy. We researched various ingredients and considered their nutritional content, taste, blendability, availability, and price. Some of these ingredients offer more protein or fiber, and others are higher in healthy fats or vitamins and minerals. Try using a variety of smoothie ingredients to create a satisfying and nutritionally balanced meal or snack.

Here are the best smoothie ingredients, according to a dietitian.

Best Overall: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Shelled Hemp Seeds

4.8
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Shelled Hemp Seeds

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Contains 10 grams of protein per serving

  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids

  • Rich in minerals including magnesium, iron and zinc

Cons
  • Contains only 1 gram of fiber

What do buyers say? 200+ Walmart reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

We like Manitoba's Hemp Hearts Shelled Hemp Seeds, because they add flavor and nutrients to your blended smoothie and can also be added as a topping for your smoothie bowl. Nutritionally, 3 tablespoons of these hemp hearts deliver 10 grams of plant protein, and the seeds pack in omega-3 fats. They also provide a variety of minerals, like iron, magnesium, and zinc. Texture- and flavor-wise, blending the seeds into a smoothie can add creaminess and a nutty flavor.

Manitoba’s Hemp Hearts are certified gluten-free, paleo, kosher, vegan, USDA Organic, and Non-GMO Project Verified. The company is a Certified B-Corp with a net-zero carbon footprint, with sustainability being at the forefront of everything it does.

Main Ingredients: Shelled hemp seeds | Serving size: 3 tablespoons | Calories per serving: 180 | Fiber per serving: 1 gram Protein per serving: 10 grams | Sugar per serving: 1 gram | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Budget: Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Ceylon Cinnamon Powder

Terrasoul Ceylon Cinnamon powder

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Adds a lot of flavor

  • Contains 4 grams of fiber per serving

  • Contains antioxidants and minerals

Cons
  • Does not contain protein

Cinnamon adds warm, sweet flavor and depth to a blend. It also pairs deliciously with ingredients like vanilla or cacao to create intensified flavor combos. Organic spices can be very expensive, but not this bulk bag of Organic Cinnamon by TerraSoul Superfoods. Compared to a single 1.6-ounce bottle of organic cinnamon sold at most grocery stores for over $5, this 16-ounce bag of cinnamon makes it more affordable to add cinnamon to smoothies.

Add a pinch for a hint of cinnamon flavor, or a larger portion to your favorite recipe to add warmth and grounding flavors to an otherwise cold beverage. In addition to flavor, cinnamon is rich in antioxidants and contains minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus.

If you're worried about sacrificing quality for price, rest assured that TerrasSoul tests its Ceylon cinnamon powder for heavy metals and presence of over 300 chemicals, so you'll get a great product. This product is also USDA organic.

Main Ingredients: Ceylon cinnamon powder | Serving size: 1 tablespoon | Calories per serving: 19 | Fiber per serving: 4 gram Protein per serving: 0 grams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Sweetener: Joolies Organic Whole Medjool Dates

Joolies Organic Whole Medjool Dates

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Naturally sweet and caramel-like flavor

  • Contains 3 grams of fiber per serving

  • Contains B vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and iron

Cons
  • Higher concentration of sugar than fresh fruit

  • Does not contain protein

Fruit is an excellent way to sweeten up a smoothie in a flavorful way. Ripe bananas, berries, and tropical fruits like mango and pineapple, and any other fruit you love, are great ways to add sweetness in addition to nutrients. However, sometimes, a smoothie needs more sweetness without the additional fruity flavor. Dried, Medjool dates are an easy way to add sweetness without an overpowering flavor. Dates feature a mildly caramel-like flavor that also pairs really well with nut butters, cacao, and a wide range of other ingredients.

In addition to flavor, they provide 3 grams of fiber and are rich in antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, iron, and B vitamins. Because dates have a higher concentration of sugar, they provide more quickly releasing energy, great for a pre- or post-workout smoothie. If you want to slow the release of glucose from the dates, try adding more fiber, protein, or healthy fats to the smoothie (such as extra veggies, protein powder, and nuts or seeds).

Joolies dates are grown and handpicked in the Coachella Valley of southern California. They’re USDA organic, kosher, halal, and glyphosate residue-free. Start with one date (don't forget to remove the pit!) and adjust as needed. Depending on the power of your blender, chopping the date or soaking it in warm water before adding it to the smoothie can help it blend up more smoothly. Trying to decide which blender to buy to make the best smoothies? Take a look at our recommendations for the best blenders for smoothies.

Main Ingredients: Medjool dates | Serving size: 2 dates | Calories per serving: 110 | Fiber per serving: 3 gram Protein per serving: 1 gram | Sugar per serving: 25 grams | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Protein Powder: Sprout Living Epic Protein Vanilla Lucuma

Sprout Living Epic Protein Vanilla Lucuma
Pros
  • Contains 20 grams of plant-based protein per serving

  • Contains 30% daily value of iron, as well as some calcium and potassium

Cons
  • Expensive

Protein is an important component of satisfaction and satiety, or how full you remain after a meal throughout a prolonged period of time. If you need your smoothie to keep you feeling fuller a bit longer for busier days, it's important to include protein. If you are looking to make your smoothie a meal, aim to include at least 15 grams of protein in addition to sources of carbohydrate and fat.

Sprout Living’s Epic Protein powder is made from pea protein, so it's both vegan and organic. In addition to offering 20 grams of protein per serving, this product contains 3 grams of fiber and 6 milligrams of iron (30% Daily Value).

The protein source for this powder is peas, so it can be safely used by those with allergies to soy protein or whey proteins. Because this product is unflavored and unsweetened, it adds protein while allowing you to create the flavor profile you want for your smoothie.

Main Ingredients: Yellow pea, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, vanilla bean and lucuma fruit | Serving size: 2 scoops (38 grams) | Calories per serving: 140 | Fiber per serving: 3 grams Protein per serving: 20 grams | Sugar per serving: 6 grams | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Chia: Nutiva Organic Premium Black Chia Seeds

Nutiva Organic Premium Black Chia Seeds

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Contains 5 grams of fiber per serving

  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids

  • Good source of magnesium and iron

Cons
  • Lower in protein

Chia seeds pack in fiber, protein, and micro-nutrients. They have a very mild, slightly nutty flavor and will thicken a smoothie quite a bit, depending on how much you add and how much liquid you use. Packing 16% of the recommended daily intake of fiber in one tablespoon, these seeds can be a nice smoothie option if you need to boost your fiber intake. The seeds also contain omega 3 fats as well as magnesium and iron.

When in contact with water, chia seeds swell to about ten times their size and form a gel. Containing mostly soluble fiber, these superfoods can help lower LDL cholesterol, promote blood sugar stability, and aid in digestion. These chia seeds are organic and non-GMO. Nutiva is a certified B corporation, and 1% of its sales goes toward regenerative agriculture. Chia seeds are also a versatile ingredient and a great addition to recipes from salad dressings to oatmeal to pudding.

Main Ingredients: Chia seeds | Serving size: 1 tablespoon | Calories per serving: 60 | Fiber per serving: 5 grams Protein per serving: 3 grams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Flax: Spectrum Essentials Flaxseed

Spectrum Essentials Flaxseed

Source: Spectrum

Pros
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids

  • Contains 3 grams of fiber

  • Good source of magnesium

Cons
  • Lower in protein

Like many seeds, flax seeds may be small, but they are full of nutrients and lend a mildly nutty flavor to a smoothie. While whole flaxseeds can pass through the digestive tract undigested, meaning that their nutrients don't get absorbed, ground flaxseed allows for nutrient absorption as it passes along the digestive tract. In additional to a small amount of protein, these contain 3 grams of fiber and omega-3 fats as well as magnesium and other vitamins and minerals.

Spectrum Organic’s Ground Flax Seeds are cold-milled to preserve nutrition. A 24-ounce bag contains 48 2-tablespoon servings.

Main Ingredients: Ground flaxseed | Serving size: 2 tablespoons | Calories per serving: 70 | Fiber per serving: 3 grams Protein per serving: 3 grams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Liquid: MALK Unsweetened MALK, Vanilla Almond

MALK Unsweetened MALK, Vanilla Almond

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Adds liquid texture and a subtly sweet, vanilla taste

  • Unlike many other almond milks, it contains just four simple ingredients

Cons
  • Expensive

When it comes to liquid bases for smoothies, the options can range from very simple (water) to more complex (mixed nut/seed milks). Depending on the type of milk, it can change the flavor and/or texture of the smoothie as well as the nutrition profile. For instance, dairy milk has a pretty neutral flavor and adds creaminess and protein. Dairy milk is an option for those who are not lactose intolerant or dairy sensitive. For people who cannot eat dairy or prefer the texture and/or flavor of non-dairy milks, there are many options. Nut milks provide the creamy consistency of milk without the lactose, or milk sugar. In general, nut and seed milks are mostly water. If you're depending on them to provide the calcium and vitamin D of dairy products, then it's important to choose an option that is fortified with these nutrients.

This organic vanilla almond milk is a simple option that only has four ingredients: organic almonds, natural vanilla flavor derived from vanilla beans, Himalayan salt, and filtered water. The nuts used to make MALK are sprouted overnight and then cold-pressed to preserve nutrients and freshness. The product is also BPA-Free, HKA, Glyphosate Residue-Free Certified, and USDA Certified Organic. If you are already getting your calcium and vitamin D from other food sources throughout the day and are just looking for a liquid for your smoothies to add creaminess, this is a great option.

Main Ingredients: Almonds, filtered water, vanilla extract, Himalayan pink salt | Serving size: 8 ounces | Calories per serving: 60 | Fiber per serving: 2 grams Protein per serving: 4 grams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Flavor Booster: Navitas Organics Cacao Powder

Navitas Organics Cacao Powder

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Rich in chocolate flavor

  • High in antioxidants, minerals and fiber

Cons
  • Contains caffeine, which may not be suitable for all

Adding raw cacao powder not only boosts the flavor and deliciousness of smoothies, but it also can increase the nutritional value. Cacao powder is made from grinding up the seeds of the cacao plant, cold pressing the mixture, and drying it. It differs from cocoa powder, which goes through more processing steps, including roasting. Cacao powder has an intensely chocolatey flavor and pairs well with fruit, nut/seed butters, and almost every other potential smoothie ingredient. In addition to adding rich flavor to a smoothie, cacao powder adds fiber and a variety of nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Navitas Organics Cacao Powder is made from single-origin, Fairtrade certified, USDA organic cacao beans, which are grown and processed to benefit its farmers and the planet. Navitas is committed to accuracy and transparency. The company third-party tests all products to verify quality and nutritional values.

A note to those who are sensitive to caffeine: One serving of cacao powder (2.5 tablespoons) contains 45 milligrams of caffeine, about half a cup of coffee.

Main Ingredients: Cacao powder | Serving size: 2.5 tablespoons | Calories per serving: 60 | Fiber per serving: 5 grams Protein per serving: 4 grams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Nut Butter: Once Again Organic Unsweetened Creamy Peanut Butter, Lightly Salted

Once Again Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Contains 8 grams of protein

  • Contains healthy, filling fats

Cons
  • Lower in fiber

Nut butters are fully versatile additions to smoothies. They add creaminess, even if you use water as a liquid base. They also add nutty flavor and a satisfying combination of protein and fat. Once Again keeps things simple and tasty. The company's certified organic peanut butter is made by roasting and grinding blanched, dry roasted peanuts with a pinch of salt until they are wonderfully creamy. While a small amount of salt can tie together sweet flavors in a smoothie, a salt-free version is also available.

We like that Once Again packs its nut butter in glass jars, which you can recycle or re-use as a cup for your smoothie. Since this product is free of emulsifiers, separation is natural, and there is a three-month shelf life if not refrigerated.

Main Ingredients: Dry roasted peanuts, salt | Serving size: 2 tablespoons | Calories per serving: 190 | Fiber per serving: 2 grams Protein per serving: 8 grams | Sugar per serving: 2 grams | Non-GMO: Yes | USDA Organic: Yes

Final Verdict

Smoothies are a quick and easy way to add variety and nutrients to your routine. Increasing the variety of protein and fat sources is crucial to long-term health and well-being. For that reason, Manitoba Hemp Hearts (view at Amazon) take our pick for the best overall smoothie ingredient because they provide protein and omega-3 rich fats, so all that's left to add are carbohydrates, fruits, and veggies. Rich in plant-based protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, these small but mighty seeds will take your smoothie to the next level.

What to Look for in Smoothie Ingredients

Simple Ingredients:

When it comes to smoothies, things can get complicated very quickly, and that's okay if you enjoy a complex smoothie! But for a more efficient smoothie-making routine, you can stick to the very basic plan of including a source of carbohydrate (like fruit), a source of protein (nuts, seeds, protein powder, yogurt, milk) a source of fat (avocado, nuts, seeds, nut butter), and veggies (try frozen spinach or cauliflower). As far as liquid goes, you can keep it as simple as water or opt for cow's milk or plant-based milk, yogurt, or coconut water. Be sure to experiment with frozen fruits and vegetables for smoothies as they tend to be less expensive, store for longer, and create a thicker smoothie texture.

Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN suggests, "If you love morning smoothies but are strapped for time, consider making your own 'smoothie freezer packs' by combining all smoothie ingredients (except the liquid) in a reusable container and sticking it in the freezer; in the morning, simply combine your mix with liquid and blend."

Meal versus Snack

When choosing the best ingredients for a smoothie, it depends on what you need this smoothie to accomplish in terms of lasting satisfaction. If you need the smoothie to function as a meal or a snack that lasts a bit longer, making sure you've got enough food in general and also that it includes fat, protein, and high-fiber carbs can create a more lasting smoothie experience. No matter how long you want the smoothie satisfaction to last, experiment to find flavor combinations you love.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are essential to providing the body with adequate energy. Fruit is a great source of high-fiber, nutrient-dense carbohydrates to add to smoothies. If you are looking to boost the sweetness and carbohydrate content of your smoothie, try adding dried fruit like dates or a touch of honey or maple syrup. To slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream for sustained energy and more stable blood sugar, add some combination of extra fiber, protein or healthy fats to the smoothie.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I make a smoothie?

    Start with a liquid base, such as water, coconut water, or your milk of choice. Next, we recommend adding fruit and vegetables for high-fiber carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. For vegetables, we like frozen cauliflower and spinach, which tend to be flavor neutral when paired with fruit and other ingredients. To make the smoothie more satisfying and nutrient-dense, add some healthy fats like nuts, seeds, or nut butter as well as protein from protein powder, yogurt, or nuts. When choosing a yogurt, to a plain Greek yogurt which provides a creamier texture and higher protein content, compared to regular yogurt.

    Here's an example of a delicious and nutritionally balanced smoothie recipe: 1/2 cup of mixed frozen berries, 1/2 banana, two handfuls of spinach, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds.

  • What can I put in a smoothie to make it taste better?

    Taste is an individual preference, and it can also change. Before making your smoothies, consider the general flavor and texture you want to accomplish. Do you want a creamy smoothie? Thick? Sweet? Fruity? Once you know the main flavor(s) and texture you're aiming for, you can put together your ingredients. Once you taste your smoothie after the first blend, you can adjust by adding ingredients like dates (for more sweetness), cinnamon or cacao powder (for a richer flavor), or more nut butter (for a creamier smoothie). Ice can create a colder, slushier smoothie and can be great addition to pep up the texture.

  • How do I make a smoothie bowl?

    Smoothie bowls typically contain a thick, smoothie base topped with a variety of ingredients with different tastes and textures. Try the smoothie recipe above, and add chia seeds for added thickness topped with granola, mixed nuts, and coconut flakes.

  • How do I make a smoothie thicker?

    There are a variety of ways to add thickness to a smoothie. One option is to incorporate more frozen fruits and vegetables or ice. Chia seeds add thickness, because they take up water and expand. You can also try adding Greek yogurt, nut butter, or avocado to amp up the creaminess.

  • How do I make a smoothie with yogurt?

    Yogurt is a great way to add protein, vitamins, minerals and creaminess to a smoothie. It contains probiotics, which are live bacteria, some of which may help support a healthy gut microbiome and aid in digestion. We recommend using a plain Greek yogurt, which is thicker and higher in protein than regular yogurt. If you are using frozen ingredients, you may need to add some liquid, like water, milk, or plant-based milk, to thin out the smoothie to your desired texture.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

The products listed in this round-up are items that Sydney Greene, a registered dietitian and avid smoothie maker, has in her own kitchen as well as items that she would recommend to her clients, friends, and family. Each product has been vetted for quality. Sydney has also read through reviews and product comparisons to choose items that stand out for price and likeability. 

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Nyanzi, R., Jooste, P., Buys, E.Invited review: Probiotic yogurt quality criteria, regulatory framework, clinical evidence, and analytical aspectsJournal of Dairy Science. 2021;104(1):1-19.