Smoothies are a refreshing treat, and when made the right way, they can be packed full of health benefits. Most importantly, smoothies are a quick, easy way to get your daily allowance of fruits and vegetables — especially if you’ve got picky eaters in the family.

Here are some other reasons you should start enjoying healthy smoothies on a regular basis.

  1. Better digestion. Smoothies do the work for your digestive system, making it easier to process foods, which in turn can ward off indigestion and constipation.
  2. Weight loss. When made with the right mix of protein, fiber and vitamins, replacing one meal a day with a smoothie can help you slim down. Add a scoop of protein powder or peanut or almond butter to your smoothie to boost its protein value. Let the natural sugars do their job and avoid adding any sugar or sweetener to your smoothie.
  3. Strengthen immune system. Vitamins and minerals found in fruits and veggies are essential for keeping your immune system strong. Citrus fruits are known for their vitamin C content, but other fruits like avocado, kiwi, cherries, plums, peaches, apples and pears also contain vitamin C. A daily smoothie can help give your immune system the boost it needs to keep you healthy.
  4. Reduce cravings. Craving something sweet? Rather than indulging in a bowl of ice cream, grab some fruit and whip up a smoothie to satisfy your cravings with a healthier option.
  5. Get more fiber. Fruit smoothies can help increase your dietary fiber intake and help slow digestion, control blood sugar and lower cholesterol. The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. All fruit contains some fiber, but blackberries, pears and apples are highest in fiber, with five to seven grams per serving.
  6. Fight inflammation and disease. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries contain powerful antioxidants that help decrease inflammation in the body and fight diseases.

Here are some simple smoothie recipes to try, whether you’re looking to shed unwanted pounds, boost immunity or simply enjoy a healthy treat.

Blueberry Smoothie
(Makes one serving)

1 cup skim milk
1 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries
1 Tbsp cold-pressed organic flaxseed oil

Blend milk and blueberries in blender for 1 minute. Transfer to glass and stir in flaxseed oil.

Banana Spice Smoothie
(Makes two servings)

2 cups spinach
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
3 bananas
1 piece (½-inch) fresh ginger, peeled
½ tsp ground cinnamon
â…› tsp ground cardamom

Blend the spinach and coconut milk until smooth. Add the bananas, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom and blend again until smooth.

Watermelon Mojito Smoothie
(Makes two servings)

2 cups Swiss chard, stems removed
¼ cups fresh mint, stems removed
2 cups chopped watermelon
2 cups chopped mango
Juice of ½ lime

Blend the Swiss chard, mint and watermelon until smooth. Add the mango and lime juice and blend again.

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie
(Makes one serving)

½ cup fat-free milk or milk replacement
½ cup fat-free plain yogurt
2 Tbsp creamy natural unsalted peanut butter
¼ ripe banana
1 Tbsp honey
4 ice cubes

Blend ingredients together until smooth.

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