A smoothie (occasionally spelled smoothee or smoothy) is a thick beverage made from blended raw fruit or vegetables with other ingredients such as water, ice, dairy products or sweeteners.
In addition to blended fruit/vegetables, smoothies may include other ingredients such as water, crushed ice, fruit juice, sweeteners (e.g. honey, sugar, syrup), dairy products (e.g. milk, yogurt, low fat or cottage cheese, whey powder), plant milk, nuts, nut butter, seeds, tea, chocolate, herbal supplements, or nutritional supplements.
A smoothie containing dairy products is similar to a vegetable milkshake, though the latter typically contains less fruit and often contains ice cream.
The health 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 consist of typically 40-50% green vegetables—usually raw leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, celery,parsley, or broccoli—the rest being mostly or entirely fruit. Most raw green leafy vegetables are bitter, but this can be ameliorated by suitable choice of vegetables (e.g. baby spinach is almost flavourless) or fruit (e.g. banana softens both the flavour and texture).
Some claim that green smoothies are healthier than other smoothies, as balanced diets recommend a substantial proportion of vegetables (particularly green leafy ones), and are arguably a type of health shake. Hence they are popular among the health conscious, such as advocates of raw foodism. Others argue instead that green smoothies are in fact hazardous to health as they contain high oxalate levels, the primary constituent of the most common kind of kidney stones as well as being a possible cause of other health complications such as Vulvodynia (a chronic pain syndrome that affects the vulvar area).
Some blender manufacturers specifically target their products towards making green smoothies, and provide a booklet of green smoothie recipes.
Green smoothies have been growing rapidly in popularity since the early 2000s.
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.
Many types of smoothie are found in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Fruit sharbats typically include yogurt and honey. In India, the mango lassi is a smoothie or milkshake including 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.