In addition to blended fruit/vegetables, smoothies may include other ingredients such as water, crushed ice, fruit juice, sweeteners (e.g. honey, sugar, stevia, syrup), dairy products (e.g. milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese, whey powder), plant milk, nuts, nut butter, seeds, tea, chocolate, herbal supplements, or nutritional supplements.
The healthfulness of a smoothie depends on its ingredients. Many smoothies include large servings of fruits and vegetables which are recommended in a healthful diet. However, too many sweet fruits can lead to too much sugar. Similarly, ingredients such as protein powders, sweeteners, or ice cream are often used in smoothie recipes, but are not necessarily healthful.
Smoothies include dietary fiber (e.g. pulp, often also skin and seeds) and so are thicker than fruit juice, with a consistency similar to a milkshake. The fiber makes smoothies more healthful than fruit juice alone. Smoothies—particularly green smoothies (which include vegetables)—are often marketed to health-conscious people, for example as a healthier alternative to milkshakes.
Some commercial smoothies, however, have added sugar, which can more than double their carbohydrate content. The fact that smoothies can be quickly swallowed without chewing makes them less effective in providing a lasting hunger-inhibiting effect than eating the raw fruit/vegetables they contain.
Green smoothies typically consist of 40-50% green vegetables—usually raw leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, celery, parsley, or broccoli—with the remaining ingredients being mostly or entirely fruit. Most green leafy vegetables are bitter when served raw, but this can be ameliorated with a suitable choice of vegetables (e.g. baby spinach is almost flavourless) or fruit (e.g. banana softens both the flavour and texture). Green smoothies have been growing rapidly in popular culture since the early 2000s.
Some blender manufacturers specifically target their products towards making green smoothies and provide a booklet of green smoothie recipes.
Around the world
Smoothies have become increasingly popular worldwide since the 1990s, due in part to being factory-produced (usually in bottles), enabling them to be sold via supermarkets and other mass-market outlets. However, they have a much longer history in various countries.
Health food stores on the West Coast of the United States began selling smoothies in the 1930s, thanks to the invention of the electric blender. The actual term “smoothie” was in use in recipes and trademarks by the mid-1930s.
By the late 1960s, smoothies were widely sold across the US by ice cream vendors as well as health food stores. They were mainly made from fruit, fruit juice, and ice, though from the early 1970s, ice milk was sometimes added to create the “fruit shake”.
In 1973, Steve Kuhnau founded Smoothie King. He set up numerous smoothie bars across the United States and popularized adding ingredients such as vitamins and protein powder into the smoothies. As smoothies became more popular and prominent, large companies decided to make pre-bottled smoothies and sell them in supermarkets.
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Many types of smoothies are found in Indian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Fruit sharbats (a popular West and South Asian drink) typically include yogurt and honey. In India, the mango lassi is a smoothie or milkshake comprising crushed ice, yogurt, and sometimes sugar; in South India, pineapple smoothies using crushed ice and sugar (without yogurt) are more popular. Smoothies are also mixed with soft drinks or alcohol to make cocktails.