Smoothies are the perfect way to supercharge your nutrition without feeling like you have to force down too many boring, bitter-tasting veggies. With the right combination of healthy ingredients in liquid form, it’s quite easy to get addicted to these delicious concoctions.
I used to be one of those smoothie types who only thought they could taste good if I added tons of super sweet, sugary fruits (like bananas, peaches, pineapple) and coconut milk. It was a good start, but now I know how wrong I was!
You’d be surprised how tasty some of the following healthy foods can be when you add them to smoothies. Best of all, you’ll stay satisfied for longer and you’ll be nourishing your body with the healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs to stay healthy.
1. Flax seeds
Flax seeds are known for their powerful omega-3 fatty acids and high fiber content. They can make a positive impact on your health by touching almost every corner of your body including your heart, your brain, your skin, your joints, your immune system and more. Add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds to your smoothie for a unique and delicious nutty flavor.
2. Chia seeds
Right up there with flax seeds are chia seeds—another ingredient that packs a nutritious punch. Like flax, chia seeds are also rich in omega-3s, fiber and antioxidants. This powerful little seed helps protect against cardiovascular disease, lowers cholesterol and prevents diabetes. You can add a tablespoon to your smoothie for a neutral flavor that takes on the flavors of the rest of your ingredients.
Avocados are one of the healthiest sources of fat you can get, and when you add some of the ripe, buttery meat to your smoothie, it takes on a smooth and creamy texture when blended well. Its healthy fats and high fiber content will keep your heart healthy, make your skin glow and keep you full. And with about 20 different vitamins and minerals to offer, you can be sure you’re doing your body a real favor.
4. Leafy greens
If you haven’t jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon yet, now’s the time! Adding dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula, swiss chard and others to your smoothies are a great way to eat a salad when you really don’t want the taste or texture that comes with eating a salad. Not only are they low in calories, but they’re also super rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
5. Unsweetened cocoa powder
There’s no better way to turn your smoothie into a decadent, chocolatey dessert than by incorporating cocoa powder into it. Without all the extra sugar and fat, cocoa in its purest form is one of the best sources of antioxidants and a great source of iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc. It also helps lower blood pressure and can act as both an appetite suppressant as well as a weapon to fight cravings.
All berries are magnificent, but blueberries deserve a special mention here for the fact that studies have shown they can significantly boost brain health when you eat them regularly. A whole cup of blueberries is just 84 calories and is packed with lots of water, four grams of fiber, an incredible variety of vitamins and minerals and powerful phytonutrients.
7. Coconut oil
If you haven’t noticed, coconut oil is a big trend these days. And rightfully so. More than 1,500 studies on coconut oil have helped convince us that it’s one of the healthiest foods in existence, and listing out all of its claimed benefits would require writing a book about it. A tablespoon of this healthy fat can help do everything from protect against heart disease and improve brain function to boost metabolism and give you more energy.
8. Hemp protein
Fruits, veggies, and seeds certainly offer a lot of nutrition and even fiber that fills you up, but sometimes you just need a bigger protein boost to help keep you fuller for longer. Derived from hemp seeds—a complete protein that contains every amino acid—hemp protein powder can offer you a generous 14 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving. It’s especially helpful with repairing muscles after a hard workout.
9. Plain Greek yogurt
Another way to add a big protein boost to your smoothie, with the added bonus of extra calcium, is with plain Greek yogurt. It also contains probiotics, which can help support good digestive health. Plain is best because it doesn’t have any added sugar or artificial flavoring. (You decide for yourself if you want fat-free or full fat!) Like avocado, it also creates an irresistible creamy texture in your smoothie.
Oats contain more fiber than any other type of grain and are rich in a certain type of fiber called beta-glucen, which is known to help stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels. This is one nutrient-dense carbohydrate that’s also low on the glycemic index and great for the gluten-friendly crowd. It’s also just a nice switch up from having a bowl of oatmeal every morning when you add it to your smoothie instead.
This isn’t a complete list of healthy foods you can add to your smoothies given that there are so many more, but theses 10 are certainly high up there in terms of nutrition. Keep experimenting with these and other healthy ingredients, and you’ll always have something delicious to look forward to when you’re hungry, low on energy, or craving something good!
Source: Care2.com by Elise Moreau
photo from Food Network