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    Mayo Clinic Minute: Get smart about smoothies

Smoothies can be a nutritious addition to your diet. However, they also can add a lot of unforeseen calories, especially when a smoothie is simply a beverage with a meal.

Mayo Clinic dietitian Kate Zeratsky has some simple ways to get smart about smoothies.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute 

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:00) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Before you fill the blender, ask yourself a question about that smoothie:

"Are you using it as a meal replacement, or are you having it as a beverage with your meal?" asks Zeratsky.

Either way, Zeratsky says let the fruit do the sweet-talking.

"Fruit is a great source of natural sugar, and you need not necessarily add extra sugar," adds Zeratsky.

But you should add some greens like spinach or kale.

"Smoothies, with their natural sweetness, are a great way to mask some of the bitter flavors of vegetables," says Zeratsky.

And back to that question:

"If you’re having it as a meal replacement, you want to make sure that it has the components of a meal," adds Zeratsky.

Include a protein or good fat like natural peanut butter, yogurt, avocado, chia or flaxseeds.

"Just be aware of how much you’re adding, because those can be very concentrated sources of calories," says Zeratsky.

And remain calorie-aware when your smoothie is simply a healthy beverage with your meal.

"Maybe add some vegetables, some water, maybe some ice cubes," says Zeratsky. "That creates a smoothie with more fluid and fewer calories."