What are good sweeteners for smoothies?

Quick Answers

Some good natural sweeteners for smoothies include dates, bananas, honey, maple syrup, and stevia. Avoid using a lot of refined sugars like white sugar or corn syrup. Sweeteners like dates, bananas, and honey provide nutrients as well as sweetness. Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that won’t spike blood sugar. Maple syrup has minerals like calcium and zinc.

What Makes a Good Sweetener for Smoothies?

When choosing a sweetener for smoothies, there are a few things to consider:

Natural vs Artificial Sweeteners

Natural sweeteners like dates, bananas, honey, and maple syrup are nutritious additions to smoothies. They contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose may be low in calories but don’t offer much nutritional value. They can also leave an aftertaste.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar. Lower GI foods (55 or less) are digested more slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar. Higher GI foods (70 or more) lead to faster, bigger spikes in blood sugar. For smoothies, choose sweeteners with a lower glycemic index to provide sustained energy.

Calories and Sugar Content

When adding sweeteners to smoothies, be mindful of calories and sugar content. While natural sugars from fruits and honey are fine in moderation, excessive added sugars can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Consider low-calorie sweeteners like stevia or a pinch of cinnamon to keep calories down.

Best Natural Sweeteners for Smoothies

Here are some of the top healthy, natural sweeteners to use in smoothies:


Dates are rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese and antioxidants. Their sweet caramel-like flavor comes from fructose and glucose. Use 2-3 pitted dates to lightly sweeten smoothies without spiking blood sugar.


Bananas contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, fiber and manganese. Unripe bananas work especially well in smoothies. The resistant starch in unripe bananas may help control blood sugar and hunger. Use 1⁄2 to 1 whole banana.


Honey contains enzymes, antioxidants, minerals like calcium and potassium, and vitamins like B6 and C. It has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. Use 1-2 teaspoons of raw, unprocessed honey in smoothies.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup provides zinc, calcium, potassium and manganese. It has a lower glycemic index than sugar. Use 1-3 teaspoons to lightly sweeten a smoothie without overpowering other flavors.


Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener made from an extract of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It contains antioxidants and won’t spike blood sugar. Use powdered stevia or a few drops of liquid stevia. A little goes a long way.


Cinnamon provides antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. It may also help regulate blood sugar levels. A dash of cinnamon can make smoothies taste sweeter without adding sugar.

Foods to Use in Moderation as Sweeteners

Some foods contain natural sugars and can be used to sweeten smoothies moderately:


Unsweetened applesauce contains fiber and vitamin C. Use 1-2 tablespoons in a smoothie. Too much can overpower other flavors.


Carrots offer vitamin A, vitamin K and potassium. Grated carrots can lend natural sweetness. Use 1-2 carrots in a big batch. Too many carrots alters the texture.


Beets provide nitrates, antioxidants and nutrients like manganese, potassium and folate. Use 1 small beet; any more makes smoothies taste too earthy.


Corn has vitamin C, folate and fiber. Use 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen corn to lightly sweeten smoothies. Too much imparts a strong corn flavor.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Use 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 baked sweet potato; more can make smoothies gummy.

Foods to Avoid as Smoothie Sweeteners

Some commonly-used sweeteners add calories without nutrition and should be limited:

White Sugar

Table sugar has no nutrients. It causes rapid blood sugar spikes and crashes. Limit to a teaspoon or avoid entirely.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added. It offers trace minerals but can still negatively impact blood sugar. Use sparingly if at all.

Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup provides empty calories. Excess intake is linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Avoid using it as a smoothie sweetener.

Agave Nectar

Although marketed as a healthy alternative, agave nectar is high in fructose. It won’t provide nutrition benefits. It’s best avoided in smoothies.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar has trace nutrients like zinc and iron. But it also contains a lot of calories and raises blood sugar. Use sparingly or avoid.

Sample Smoothie Recipes with Healthy Sweeteners

Here are some tasty smoothie recipes using various natural sweeteners:

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Ingredients Amount
Frozen strawberries 1 cup
Banana 1 medium
Milk of choice 1 cup
Greek yogurt 2 tbsp
Ground flaxseed 1 tbsp

Bananas and strawberries provide natural sweetness to this smoothie. Greek yogurt adds protein and creaminess. Flaxseed boosts fiber and omega-3s.

Piña Colada Smoothie

Ingredients Amount
Pineapple chunks 1 cup
Banana 1⁄2 medium
Coconut milk 1⁄2 cup
Greek yogurt 2 tbsp

Pineapple and banana provide sweetness in this tropical smoothie. Coconut milk lends creaminess while Greek yogurt adds protein.

Green Smoothie with Honey

Ingredients Amount
Spinach 1 cup
Frozen mango chunks 1 cup
Banana 1⁄2 medium
Orange juice 1⁄2 cup
Honey 1 tsp
Chia seeds 1 tbsp

Mango, banana and a touch of honey sweeten up the spinach in this green smoothie. Chia seeds provide an extra nutrition boost.

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Ingredients Amount
Carrots 2 medium
Frozen pineapple 1 cup
Vanilla Greek yogurt 1⁄4 cup
Milk 1 cup
Ground cinnamon 1⁄4 tsp
Maple syrup 1 tbsp

Carrots and pineapple provide natural sweetness in this smoothie reminiscent of carrot cake. Cinnamon provides extra flavor and maple syrup lends a hint of sweetness.

Chocolate Avocado Smoothie

Ingredients Amount
Avocado 1⁄2 medium
Banana 1 small
Cocoa powder 2 tbsp
Milk of choice 1 cup
Maple syrup 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract 1⁄2 tsp

The avocado and banana lend natural creaminess and sweetness to this chocolatey smoothie. Maple syrup provides a hint of sweetness to balance the cocoa.

Choosing the Best Sweetener Based on Your Goals

When selecting a sweetener, consider your health goals:

Weight loss

For a weight loss smoothie, avoid added sugars like honey or maple syrup. Stick to lower calorie sweeteners like stevia, a small amount of cinnamon, or fruits like berries and banana.

Blood sugar control

If you’re managing diabetes or blood sugar, choose sweeteners with a lower glycemic index like cinnamon and unripe banana. Limit higher glycemic index options like pineapple.

Nutrient density

To pack the most nutrients into your smoothie, use sweeteners with benefits like dates, maple syrup, cinnamon, carrots and applesauce over purified sugars.


Sweeteners that include fiber like dates, applesauce, carrots and bananas can provide more lasting fullness compared to liquid sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

Safety Tips When Using Natural Sweeteners

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind with homemade smoothies:

Watch Portion Sizes

Even natural sweeteners should be used moderately to avoid excess calories and spikes in blood sugar. Follow suggested serving sizes.

Look for Unsweetened Varieties

When using store-bought ingredients like applesauce or coconut milk, make sure to select unsweetened versions with no added sugar.

Clean Produce

Wash all produce thoroughly before use to remove dirt and reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

Don’t Give Honey to Infants

Honey can cause infant botulism in children under 1 year. Avoid adding honey to smoothies for babies.

Store Properly

Refrigerate smoothies and consume within 24 hours. Discard if smell or taste is off. Keep opened sweeteners like honey sealed and stored properly.

The Bottom Line

There are many great options for sweetening up your smoothies in a nutritious way. Bananas, dates, applesauce, carrots, cinnamon and maple syrup lend flavor and nutrients. Limit empty sources of sugar like white sugar, corn syrup or coconut sugar. Consider your health goals and choose wisely for the best smoothie possible. With so many delicious combinations, you can easily avoid a sugar overload and make healthy, satisfying smoothies.

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