Pure filtered water is the best beverage to quench your dehydration, but let's face it — sometimes you just need a touch of sweetness to excite your taste buds. Don't be tempted to reach for soda or processed juice, however — instead, make your own healthy drinks at home using fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients
Fruits and vegetables are among the most nutritious foods available on the planet, and consuming them may help protect effect against various ailments such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and arthritis.1 There are plenty of healthy veggies out there, but not all of them taste great when turned into juices or smoothies. If you’re not sure which ones to buy, you can get started with these basic ingredients:
- Berries — Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are among the most antioxidant-dense fruits and, according to one study, they (along with pomegranate) have the highest cellular antioxidant activity (CAA) of all fruits tested.2 Blueberries are particularly beneficial — they have been found to help protect against DNA damage. In one study, blueberries were able to reduce induced DNA damage significantly after an hour of being consumed.3
- Kale — In addition to fiber, kale is a good source of vitamins A and C. It also offers phenolic antioxidants, glucosinolates, and minerals such as zinc, iron, manganese, calcium and magnesium.4 One of kale’s benefits is its potential to lower bad cholesterol levels. A study noted that this leafy green, along with dill, may be a “hypocholesterolemic agent.”5
However, one caveat about kale is that conventionally grown varieties are loaded with pesticides. In fact, it ranks as No. 3 on the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 Dirty Dozen list.6 So when you buy kale, always make sure it’s organic.
- Citrus fruits (lemons and limes) — Aside from the tangy flavor and acidity they add to your dishes, citrus fruits also add a wealth of nutrients to your food, as they are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and flavonoids that can bring about many health benefits.7 For example, a 2014 Japanese study suggested that ingesting lemons daily may have a positive effect against high blood pressure levels.8
A 2015 study also noted that citrus fruits have “anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial and anti-allergy effects.” They also exhibit neuroprotective, hepatoprotective and cardiovascular protective effects.9
- Avocados and bananas — Aside from adding a creamy texture to smoothies, these two fruits are loaded with magnesium and potassium, among other nutrients. One study noted that the dietary potassium from both these fruits may help protect your heart from disease. Published in the journal JCI Insight, the study found avocados and bananas could help reduce your risk of atherosclerosis and minimize the chances of having arterial blockages.10,11
To add an extra boost of flavor and more nutrients to your homemade smoothies or juices, add a dash or two of herbs and spices. Cayenne and black pepper add some kick, while ginger provides a refreshing flavor and fragrance. Mint gives your drink a cooling sensation, which is perfect for hot days.
Check out these delicious drinks you can make at home
Blueberry mint smoothie recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes Serving size: 2
- 2 cups frozen organic blueberries
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Blend blueberries, water, mint leaves, avocado, orange juice and lemon juice in a blender until smooth.
(Recipe from AllRecipes.com12)
Mango piña colada smoothie recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes Serving size: 4
- 1 mango, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 1 1/4 cups ice cubes
- 3/8 teaspoon of stevia
- 1 1/4 cups pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
- Place the mango cubes, ice, sugar, pineapple juice, cream and coconut milk into a blender. Puree until smooth, pour into glasses and serve.
(Recipe from AllRecipes.com13)
Kale and turmeric smoothie recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes Serving size: 1
- 6 ice cubes
- 1 cup organic almond milk
- 1 banana
- 3 kale leaves, large stems discarded, leaves chopped
- 1/4 cup flax seed
- 2 tablespoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons peeled, chopped fresh turmeric root
- 1 tablespoon organic almond butter
- 1/4 teaspoon stevia or 2 tablespoons monk fruit sweetener
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Blend ice cubes, almond milk, banana, kale, flax seed, ginger, turmeric root, almond butter, stevia powder, cayenne pepper and ground black pepper together in a blender until smooth.
(Recipe From AllRecipes.com14)
Banana, avocado and spinach smoothie recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes Serving size: 2
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup organic milk
- 6 ice cubes
- 2 teaspoons monk fruit sweetener
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Blend banana, avocado, spinach, milk, ice cubes, monk fruit sweetener and vanilla extract together in a blender until smooth.
(Recipe from AllRecipes.com15)
Remember: Buy fresh, high-quality and organic ingredients
To ensure that you’re getting the most out of the fresh produce you buy, it’s best to buy organic whenever possible. Choosing organic products is one of the top ways to proactively take control of your health. Not only are you reducing your toxic burden by staying away from pesticides, but you’re also supporting safer and healthier agricultural practices.
Again, make sure to check the EWG’s most recent Dirty Dozen list16 so you’ll know which foods are best consumed organic. Alternately, you can also look at their Clean Fifteen list17 — these are the top produce that have very little pesticide contamination, making them OK to purchase conventional when needed.
+ Sources and References