Who doesn’t love a sweet, fruity smoothie on a hot day? In general, smoothies are an excellent way to add more nutrients to your diet. Unlike fruit juices, smoothies retain a lot of the healthy fiber and other nutrients found in whole fruits. While smoothies are widely known to be a healthy option, some can be high in sugar. All those bananas and pineapples do add up quickly.

Because diabetics need to be extra careful about their intake of carbohydrates and sugar, the wrong smoothie recipe can do a lot more harm than good. Nevertheless, with some additional planning and the right ingredients, you can enjoy a delicious smoothie just like anyone else. We will review the top ten smoothies for diabetics.

Photographer: Element5 Digital | Source: Unsplash

Why Smoothies for Diabetics are a Healthy Option

Before we get into our favorite smoothies for diabetics, let’s discuss why smoothies can be either a great addition to a diabetic diet, or, with the wrong ingredients, a potentially dangerous and unhealthy option.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that results in one’s blood sugar levels being consistently too high. Depending on the specific type of diabetes, Type 1 versus Type 2, the underlying cause of the high blood sugars will vary. The condition has to do with a hormone known as insulin. Insulin is made by the pancreas; its job is to transport glucose from food into the cells where it is transformed into energy. 

All forms of diabetes stem from some sort of malfunction in this process,  most frequently when the body either stops making insulin or becomes unable to use it effectively. This causes glucose to become stuck in the blood rather than moving into the cells. This results in impaired energy production and high blood sugar levels. If the condition is left untreated, it can be incredibly dangerous and even life-threatening.

Living with diabetes can be manageable. In order to stay healthy with this condition, it is important to be vigilant about your lifestyle choices. To keep your blood sugar levels at a desirable level, you need to follow a carefully planned diet and exercise regime.

How to Incorporate Smoothies in your Diet As A Diabetic

The specifics of adhering to a healthy diabetic diet will vary depending on your specific condition. However, there are some standard tips that we can offer. In patients with Type 1 Diabetes, counting carbs is essential for keeping blood glucose levels regulated as insulin dosage will be dependent upon your consumption. For those with Type 2 diabetes, blood sugar regulation can be achieved by maintaining or achieving a healthy weight and reducing your intake of simple sugars and sugary beverages while focusing on consuming adequate fiber, protein, and fat..

The best way to ensure that your diet is composed of healthy ingredients is to cut back on processed, sugary foods where possible. Homemade smoothies can be a great way to replace an unhealthy drink with a fresh beverage filled with healthy carbs and natural sugars. By using smoothies as a replacement for unhealthy snacks, you will ensure that you get the energy you need while ensuring that you’re not compromising your health.


Photographer: Element5 Digital | Source: Unsplash

How to Make Smoothies for Diabetics at Home

The best way to ensure your smoothies are filled with healthy, diabetic-friendly ingredients is to make them yourself at home. Many commercial smoothie brands end up being sugar traps as they often add fruit juices or fruit syrups to give you that taste that keeps you coming back for more.

With a simple smoothie blender, it’s easy to throw together a bunch of ingredients and create a tasty smoothie in minutes. To create that perfect smoothie, here are a few key ingredients that you should keep stocked :

  • Avocados
  • Flaxseed
  • Tofu
  • Hempseed
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • Chia seed
  • Almond butter

We will use a combination of these in the recipes we share.

The 10 Best Smoothies for Diabetics

Let’s get into some smoothie recipes. Here are our favorite ten recipes for diabetic-friendly smoothies. 

Kale and Pineapple 

Ingredients: 

  • Nonfat Plain Greek Yoghurt (1 cup)
  • Pineapple (1 cup, chopped)
  • Baby Kale (1 cup)
  • Cucumber (½ cup, sliced)
  • Hemp Seeds (2 Tbsp)
  • Add ice/water as needed for texture

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 330
  • Carbohydrates: 40 grams
  • Sugar: 27 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams

Why it’s great:

We love this tasty green smoothie for diabetics because it’s packed with great nutrients and healthy properties. Kale is packed full of amazing antioxidants that help to support the immune system and keep the digestive system functioning well. 

The key to this smoothie, and many other diabetic-friendly smoothies, is balance. The Greek yogurt and hemp seeds help to make this smoothie lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein and fat.  The addition of vegetables increases the fiber content, which not only helps keep you feeling full for longer periods of time, but also helps prevent dramatic blood sugar spikes and crashes. With pineapple and cucumber adding flavor and hemp seeds adding a bit of texture, this smoothie is sure to become a favorite. This smoothie would likely better serve as a meal replacement than a snack due to its relatively high calorie and total carbohydrate content. For those of you non-breakfast-eaters out there, this smoothie would make for a great breakfast replacement due to its rich nutrient content.

Peanut Butter and Berry

Ingredients:

  • ½ Banana (medium-sized)
  • Peanut Butter (2 Tbsp)
  • Mixed Frozen Berries (½ cup)
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk (½ cup)
  • Salt (a pinch, to taste)
  • Add ice/water as needed for texture

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 295
  • Carbohydrate: 30 grams
  • Sugar: 16 grams
  • Fiber: 6.5 grams

Why it’s great:

This creamy, delicious smoothie is a great substitute for an afternoon snack or it can be used after a workout to fill you up and replenish your energy. Think of it as a healthy, liquid form of a PB&J sandwich. Natural peanut butter is a low glycemic index (GI) food. This means that it won’t cause your blood sugar levels to rise suddenly. It also adds significant amounts of protein and fat to your smoothie, which will not only keep your blood sugars from spiking, but also help keep you feeling full for longer periods of time, thus cutting down on undesirable snacking. Additionally, peanut butter is high in magnesium, which has excellent benefits for diabetics including the ability to help with blood sugar regulation.

Bananas frequently get a bad reputation related to their high carbohydrate content for diabetics. Despite their seemingly high carbohydrate and sugar content, bananas have a low glycemic index because they are so filled with fiber. They also contain a wide variety of micro nutrients, making them a very healthy choice. It is important to note that because of their carbohydrate content, one medium-sized banana is actually considered two carbohydrate servings whereas most whole fruits are considered one serving. You’ll notice that all of our smoothie recipes call for one serving, i.e. half of a banana.

Berries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any fruit and vegetable. This helps to protect you from developing heart problems and other chronic conditions in the future. 

Unsweetened almond milk is suitable for diabetics and a great addition to your smoothies as it is low in carbs and high in fat and protein. Like Greek yogurt, it won’t cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar levels, thus promoting more stable levels.

Cucumber, Spinach, and Mint

Ingredients:

  • Spinach (1 cup)
  • Cucumber (1 cup, sliced)
  • Celery (½ cup, diced)
  • Mint (4 large leaves)
  • Lemon juice (½ cup)
  • Ginger (to taste)
  • Water (amount per your texture preference)
  • Ice (amount per your texture preference)
  • Parsley (to taste)

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 60
  • Carbohydrates: 17 grams
  • Sugar: 5.5 grams
  • Fiber: 2.5 grams

Why it’s great:

Super low in calories and carbohydrates, this smoothie is an excellent snack. Cucumber makes for a great addition to this smoothie as it’s naturally high in fiber. Although it loses some of the fiber in the smoothie making process, you’ll still get lots of its benefits, one of which is lowering blood sugar levels. 

Spinach and celery, as well as the herbs utilized, are both very low in carbs. Both of these veggies are also filled with some great antioxidants, which have been shown to lower blood sugar levels

Even mint can help you to manage some of the symptoms associated with diabetes. The herb has been shown to improve metabolism and digestion, reduce bloating, and, potentially, lower blood glucose levels. This is one of our favorite smoothies for diabetics. If you’re looking to further enhance the flavor and nutritional value of this smoothie, you could also add some green apple or pineapple; however, make note that this will increase the calorie, total carbohydrate, and sugar content.

Green Tea and Cocoa

Ingredients:

  • ½ Banana (medium-sized)
  • Fresh mint (4 leaves)
  • Ice/water (amount per your texture preference)
  • Cacao Nibs (1 Tbsp)
  • Fresh lime juice (2 Tbsp)
  • Coconut milk (¼ cup)
  • Mango (¼ cup, diced)
  • Matcha green tea (½ tsp)

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 270
  • Carbohydrates: 28 grams
  • Sugar: 14 grams
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams

Why it’s great:

Matcha green tea is an excellent ingredient to throw into your smoothie whether you’re diabetic or not. This type of tea is high in something called EGCG, a catechin, that is linked to benefits including prevention of heart disease and cancer and promotion of weight loss. An added benefit for diabetics is, of course, its low carbohydrate and sugar content.

Cacao nibs, one of the other main ingredients in this smoothie, may initially sound unhealthy. However, pure, dark chocolate actually has a range of benefits that can be especially helpful for diabetics, including lowering blood sugar levels. Cacao contains iron and magnesium. Because magnesium deficiency is common in those with type 2 diabetes, it’s important to make sure you are getting your daily dose.

Strawberry and Banana

Ingredients:

  • Strawberries (1 cup, slices)
  • ½ Banana (medium-sized)
  • Unsweetened almond milk (½ cup)
  • Vanilla (¼-½ tsp to taste)
  • Add ice/water as needed for texture

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 124
  • Carbohydrates: 26 grams
  • Sugar: 14 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams

Why it’s great:

The low calorie and carbohydrate content make this smoothie a perfect snack! This simple smoothie is quick and easy to make, plus, the classic flavors taste delicious together. This smoothie is pretty close to tasting like a milkshake, while still being super healthy. If you’re looking to boost the nutritional value of this smoothie, throw ¼-½ cup of raw oats in as well to up the fiber and protein content; doing this will help you stay full for a longer period after consuming this yummy smoothie.

Strawberries are a tasty source of healthy sugar for diabetics. This fruit is a low-glycemic food, so, again, they won’t cause your blood sugar to spike dangerously.

Bananas are a great source of fiber. However, do be careful with this fruit - it falls slightly higher on the GI index than other fruits. With 22 g of carbs, try to limit your intake of bananas and balance out your carb intake when you do choose to eat bananas or pop them into your smoothies.

Chocolate and Avocado 

Ingredients:

  • Avocado (½ of a medium fruit)
  • Cacao powder (2 Tbsp)
  • Coconut milk (¼ cup)
  • Lime juice (2 Tbsp)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Fresh mint (4-5 leaves)
  • Add ice/water as needed for texture

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 320
  • Carbohydrates: 19 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 9 grams

Why it’s great:

This smoothie is amazing for diabetics; despite its relatively high calorie content, it contains minimal carbohydrates and almost no sugar! Rich in fats and protein, it will help maintain blood sugar levels, preventing the spikes and subsequent crashes to which diabetics are prone. As we’ve already mentioned, cacao is a surprisingly healthy option for diabetics. Investing in some cacao nibs or cacao powder for your smoothies is a great way to give yourself a tasty treat, while avoiding more dangerous types of chocolate which have been processed and/or had loads of sugar added.

Avocados are a good source of fiber while being safe for your blood sugar levels. Lots of medical professionals recommend avocados to diabetic patients because of their low carbohydrate content. This ingredient will give you the energy you need without interfering with your blood sugar.

Coconut milk is a good base for your smoothies because it’s a great source of magnesium. As we’ve noted previously, magnesium can improve insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar levels.

Blueberry and Almond Butter

Ingredients:

  • Fresh or frozen banana (½ of a medium-sized banana)
  • Frozen blueberries (½ cup)
  • Almond butter (1½ Tbsp)
  • Unsweetened almond milk (¾ cup)
  • Flax seeds (½ Tbsp)
  • Chia seeds (½ Tbsp)
  • Add ice/water as needed for texture

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 325
  • Carbohydrates: 34 grams
  • Sugar: 15 grams
  • Fiber: 8.5 grams

Why it’s great:

This smoothie contains a variety of macronutrients, with the seeds and almond milk/butter adding high amounts of both protein and fat. Similarly to the first smoothie we reviewed, you’ll notice that the calories and total carbs in this smoothie are a little higher than some of the others, making it better suited as a meal replacement than a snack. 

Blueberries are an exceptional source of antioxidants that you need for a healthy, functioning body. In fact, these antioxidants fight disease. This yummy fruit also contains important vitamins and fiber, all while having a relatively low glycemic index. This berry is truly a superfood for diabetics and non-diabetics alike. 

The addition of flax and chia seeds make this smoothie even more beneficial. Flax seeds are an extraordinary food for controlling diabetes. These seeds can improve insulin sensitivity and help you to manage your blood sugar levels

Chia seeds, on the other hand, are very rich in antioxidants, along with omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and magnesium. All of these can help to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. Just a few chia seeds thrown into your smoothie will dramatically boost your daily intake of fiber, so it’s definitely worth investing in these miracle seeds! This is without a doubt one of the best smoothies for diabetics.

Peach

Ingredients:

  • 1 Peach (medium-sized, pitted & peeled)
  • Unsweetened almond milk (½ cup)
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt (½ cup)
  • Cinnamon (to taste)
  • Vanilla extract (¼-½ tsp, to taste)
  • Add ice/water as needed for texture

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 145
  • Carbohydrates: 21 grams
  • Sugar: 17.4 grams
  • Fiber: 3.4 grams

Why it’s great:

The low calorie and carbohydrate content of this smoothie make it a perfect healthy snack during your day. The almond milk and Greek yogurt really enhance the nutritional profile of this sweet smoothie by increasing its protein content, thus stabilizing blood sugars and helping keep you full during the day. Feel free to add some raw oats (¼-½ cup) to add even more fiber and protein if you’re looking to get even more bang for your buck!


Ginger, Mango, and Carrot

Ingredients:

  • Carrot juice (¼ cup)
  • Unsweetened almond milk (¾ cup)
  • Lemon juice (1-2 tsp)
  • Fresh or frozen mango (1 cup, diced)
  • Ginger (1 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (⅛-¼ tsp)
  • Flax seeds (1 Tbsp)
  • Add ice/water as needed for texture

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 195
  • Carbohydrates: 36 grams
  • Sugar: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 6.5 grams

Why it’s great:

Although fairly high in carbohydrates and sugar in comparison with some of the other smoothies we’ve mentioned, this smoothie is so good for you!  The addition of flax seeds and almond milk, as with some of the other smoothies, helps balance the macronutrient composition of this smoothie. Mango is a delicious, flavorful fruit that is great for diabetics when consumed in moderation. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber, making it a very healthy addition to your smoothies. However, it’s important to note that mangoes do actually contain a significant amount of carbs. For every 100 g of mango, you’ll consume around 20 g of carbs. Despite its high carbohydrate and sugar content, it is considered a low-glycemic food; however, we recommend consuming this smoothie in moderation and monitoring your blood sugars after consumption. 

Fruity Tofu 

Ingredients:

  • Frozen fruit (we recommend ½ cup cherries and ½ cup blueberries)
  • Silken tofu (6 ounces)
  • Peanut butter (1 Tbsp)
  • Add ice/water as needed for texture

Nutritional value:

  • Calories: 263
  • Carbohydrates: 27 grams
  • Sugar: 18 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams

Why it’s great:

This is our only smoothie that contains silken tofu. Tofu is a superfood for diabetics. It’s a complete protein, which means that it contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs and, as a result of its rich protein content,  can help to regulate blood sugar levels. In fact, many claim it’s one of the best foods a diabetic can eat. The good news is, it tastes delicious when mixed with fruits and a little peanut butter for added sweetness.

Final Thoughts - Are Smoothies for Diabetics?

We hope you’ve been inspired by this list of delicious smoothies for diabetics. Once you get the hang of these recipes, try mixing and matching some of the ingredients listed above. With a nonfat plain Greek yogurt or almond butter/milk as your base, you can add a variety of fruits and leafy greens into your smoothie maker to concoct the perfect smoothie for you!

Make sure to monitor the carbohydrate content of your smoothies when creating your own - it’s easy to get carried away with the fruits, which is what often causes smoothies to be high in carbs and sugars (and also what makes them taste so yummy!). It is generally recommended that diabetics consume snacks with 15-30 grams of carbs (i.e. 2 carb servings) and meals with 45-60 grams of carbs (3-4 carb servings), so make sure your smoothies fit accordingly.

Let us know your favorite smoothie recipe below!