Whether it’s cold and flu season or you’re just in the mood for a refreshing drink, an immune-boosting smoothie is always a good idea. Smoothies are (rightfully) all the rage as they are delicious, convenient, and when made with the right ingredients, a nutrient-dense treat. They can be a quick and easy way to jam-pack your body with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help support a healthy immune system.
There’s a smoothie to aid almost any type of health woe. Need an extra dose of veggies? Try a green smoothie. Lacking protein? Try a peanut butter smoothie. Getting sick? Add an extra helping of vitamin C or an antioxidant-rich fruit to your blender. Want more ideas? Keep scrolling for some delicious healthy smoothies to boost your immune system.
Meet the Expert
- Luc Maes, ND is a naturopathic doctor and director of the Maes Center for Natural Health Care with 30 years of experience in plant-based medicine and the natural products industry.
- Todd Sinett, DC is a chiropractor, author, pain expert, and the founder of Tru Whole Care in Midtown Manhattan.
- Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN is the founder and director of Real Nutrition, an NYC-based private specializing in nutrition, healthy weight management, and wellness.
Super Green Smoothie
This smoothie requires just five minutes, a few simple ingredients, and a blender. The recipe makes two servings so you can share with a friend or just save half for later. To make, simply combine 1 cup of non-dairy milk (or water), a handful of spinach, a 4-inch chunk of cucumber, 1 whole banana (frozen is ideal), and a handful of frozen pineapple chunks. (For an extra nutrient boost, Dr. Maes also recommends adding 1 tablespoon of Kaibae Baobab Fruit Powder, $26.)
With an abundance of vitamin C, vitamin K, prebiotic fiber, flavonoids, polyphenol antioxidants, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, this smoothie is a nutrient powerhouse that promotes easy digestion and a healthy inflammatory response.
"The way all the ingredients work together makes for a fruit and veggie combo that’s got you covered for immunity, nutrition, hydration, natural energy, and taste. It's a smoothie that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy," says Dr. Maes. "Any time we can add a concentrated amount of wild and organic plants in our diet it's a win-win for our immune system."
Citrus Smoothie Booster
It's no secret that vitamin C is a go-to when it comes to supporting immune function—both to help prevent illness and help you recover when you're already sick. One kiwi has over 70% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, making it the perfect base for an immunity-boosting smoothie. To make this citrusy smoothie, combine one or two kiwis, three strawberries, 8 ounces of plain low or nonfat yogurt, 4 ounces of all-natural orange juice, and a few ice cubes to have yourself an orange berry kiwi smoothie.
"Some may assume OJ and strawberries are the keys to success but in fact, kiwi fruit and yogurt are my secret weapons," Dr. Sinett explains. "Both can be added to any smoothie concoction to help boost immunity. Little kiwi fruits contain vitamin C and [the] vitamin D present in yogurt has been studied for its potential to prevent illness such as the common cold and flu."
Lemon Tart Smoothie
This refresher requires 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, one frozen banana, 1 cup of frozen cauliflower, 2 tablespoons of coconut manna, 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened nut milk, and a supplemental tablespoon of baobab fruit powder, if desired. To make, freeze your banana and cauliflower beforehand and then throw all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
"Fruits and vegetables are abundant in an impressive array of nutrients with anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, antioxidants, and immune benefiting properties," says Dr. Maes. This smoothie provides a generous serving of the vitamin C, and according to Dr. Maes, "The prebiotic fiber in baobab fruit powder and the cauliflower also benefit gut health which is at the core of our immune system."
Not only can this smoothie help give your immune system a boost, but it's basically summertime in a cup: "It's smooth and creamy with a slight tang," says Dr. Maes
Fruit-Filled Tropical Smoothie
Green smoothies aren't the only ones that pack a nutritional punch. You've likely heard about the benefits of "eating the rainbow." Enter: This colorful tropical smoothie.
Blend together half of a frozen banana, one orange (peeled), 1/2 cup mango, 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower (rice or florets), 1 inch of ginger, 1 inch of turmeric, a dash of black pepper (required for turmeric absorption), half a lemon (peeled), 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt, up to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened liquid of choice, and 1 teaspoon bee pollen. Blend all ingredients except the bee pollen thoroughly in a high-speed blender. Finish by pouring into a glass and sprinkling with bee pollen.
Shapiro tells us that oranges, mangoes, and lemons are rich in vitamin C, "which has been shown to boost immunity and fight free radicals—not to mention it helps promote healthy skin," she says. "Mango is also rich in beta carotene which may help to enhance immune cell function."
But vitamin C isn't the only nutrient that makes this smoothie worthwhile. Cauliflower contains a lot of fiber and is low in sugar but rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight infection. Adding ginger and pepper promotes digestion. The Greek yogurt provides probiotics, which can help prevent "bad" bacteria from taking over and helps to eliminate infection. The last ingredient, bee pollen, is a powerful antioxidant and also has antimicrobial properties.
Not Just Another Green Smoothie
For this tasty drink, combine some spinach, kale, kiwi, pineapple, lemon, 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds, coconut water, and 1 knob of ginger together in your blender. Blend your greens and liquids first and then add the rest and blend until smooth. Garnish with a slice of kiwi and enjoy.
"Spinach and kale are both rich in vitamin C, folate, and iron which all help boost immunity. Kiwi and lemon are [also] great sources of vitamin C, and pineapple also has vitamin C, plus vitamin B to help with energy," Shapiro says. "Hemp seeds contain your healthy fats that will keep you full, as well as omega-3s to promote a healthy heart and brain, and skin integrity. Coconut water adds the electrolytes, keeping your muscles functioning well and preventing dehydration, [which] promotes overall immunity."
The Final Takeaway
Not every smoothie is a nutritional powerhouse (in fact, some are less than nutritionally sound), but when you use nutrient-dense, whole-food ingredients, you're well on your way to a healthy snack. Looking for an immune boost? Our experts proved that you can reap immune-boosting benefits from a variety of ingredients—from greens to yogurt to tropical fruits—to make a smoothie that suits your mood.
Cleveland Clinic. Strengthen your immune system with 4 simple strategies. Updated April 13, 2020.
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National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C fact sheet for health professionals. Updated February 27, 2020.
Cleveland Clinic. 8 vitamins & minerals you need for a healthy immune system. Updated January 15, 2015.