turmeric

In a survey that tabulated the top 10 New Year’s resolutions, getting healthier, starting a fitness routine and losing weight were month them. Smoothies are a great tool to help you reach your health and fitness goals. As a rule, smoothies are healthy to begin with but there are certain superfoods I like to try to incorporate into mine to get an extra nutrition boost.

A number of health experts are starting to say that it isn’t what you eat as much as how it is prepared that makes the difference in your health.  By that they mean that processed, packaged and restaurant foods can take a toll on your health due to the added ingredients and the loss of nutrients in the processing.  Google “processed foods and health” for some scholarly articles on this subject.  Smoothies are an easy way to get more fresh whole foods into your daily diet.

There are a lot of “smoothie nutrition booster” powders being sold these days.  I avoid them.  The idea here if you want that healthy new body for the new year is to move away from processed foods and toward fresh, natural, organic whole foods as much as possible.  In most cases anything available in powder form is available in the produce or spice section of you local healthy foods store.  There are some exceptions.

Here are some of my favorites.

Quinoa:

nutrition boosters
Flaxseed and Chis Seeds are excellent nutrition boosters

Quinoa goes into almost every smoothie I make.  It’s is such a superfood that the United Nations declared 2013 as the Year of Quinoa.  First of all it is the only plant based protein that is a complete protein.  A cup of quinoa supplies 17% of your daily requirement of protein.  I stopped using expensive protein powders and switched to quinoa.  It’s healthier and cheaper!

It’s high in fiber and loaded with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  Several of the nutrients in quinoa are showing up in studies as “revolutionary” in treating or preventing cancer.  One of these is quercetin which has significant success in stopping the spread of lung and other cancers. 

Quinoa supplies heart healthy fats and supports hearth health and optimal blood pressure.  The fiber content will help you have a lasting “full” feeling so you won’t have your stomach telling you to eat more when you’ve already had all the nutrition you need in your smoothie. Read more about the amazing health benefits of quinoa here. 

If you have a high powered blender such as a NutriBullet or a VitaMix they can pulverize it smooth enough for your smoothie.  If not, soak it in water overnight to soften it for your morning smoothie.

Flaxseed:

While smoothies are a very nutrient dense food, most smoothies lack healthy fats.  Flaxseed provides the omega-3 fats that our heart, circulatory system and brain needs to do their jobs properly.  A good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, Flaxseed is also good for your  digestive system.

Flaxseed provides plant protein, magnesium, manganese, phosporus, copper and thiamin.  It also contains a type of anti-oxidants called polyphenols which protect against heart disease and cancer.    

You can read more about the health benefits of flaxseed here.

Nuts and Seeds:

Nuts and seeds also provide the Omega-3 fatty acids your body needs along with protein and high nutrient profiles specific to each nut or seed.  Nuts and seeds are also good sources of the B vitamins. Among my top choices are almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds and walnuts.  In our healthy foods category you can read up on the healthy benefits of most of these ingredients! 

You can find most of these as nut butters, but again were moving toward whole, unprocessed foods!  If you have a high powered blender they will become smooth enough.  I also find it’s more economical and easier just to use the actual nuts or seeds.

While you can add them to most any smoothie, we have some where they are primary ingredients such as this unbelievably delicious Almond Banana Smoothie.

Cranberries

Cranberries

Cranberries are such a superfood that we wrote a post about them entitled “Cranberries: The Overlooked Superfood.”  Cranberries are best known to help prevent urinary tract infections but this is the least of their health benefits.

Cranberries are actually higher in anti-oxidants and lower in sugar than other berries and fruits.  Much of that benefit is lost when they are eaten in processed form such as canned cranberry sauce or sweetened juices and dried cranberries so I make it a point to buy fresh cranberries when they are available and incorporate them into my smoothies.

They are are high in fiber and thus good for digestion.  The proanthocyanidins in cranberries anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial anti-oxidants that also help prevent gum disease. 

Cranberries can be added as a booster or flavor accent, or as a primary ingredient like we do in this delicious Cranberry, Banana Date Smoothie that is a nutrition powerhouse!

Berries:

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries it doesn’t matter a lot which but I try to make them part of every smoothie.  Berries are well known for containing certain anti-oxidants that are for the most part unique to berries that have anti-cancer properties.  Though they are sweet, they won’t spike your blood sugar the way other fruits do. 

A number of smoothie recipes say to use frozen berries.  Don’t.  Fresh berries are almost always available in the supermarket. 

Avocado:

Avocado is another superfood that has come into the spotlight for it’s cancer fighting properties along with how it can help prevent heart disease.  They are also high in Omega-3 fats and contain another nutrient called oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fat. 

They contain over 20 vitamins and minerals and vital plant compounds. You’ll find avocado blends in well with a number of smoothie recipes, both fruit and vegetable and it will give your smoothies a nice creamy texture.

Try this creamy High Protein, Probiotic Avocado Smoothie and see how you feel.

Greens:

Arugula
Fresh Arugula

Spinach, arugula and kale are superfoods and while they are often one of the main ingredients in a smoothie, I add some of one of them to almost all smoothies I make.  A cup of spinach or arugula can be added to fruit smoothies and not have a negative impact on the taste.

Of these I believe arugula is the most beneficial.  At just 5 calories per cup, it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods you can get.  It’s known for it’s cleansing benefits, particularly your liver.  It, along with broccoli, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables.  The American Cancer Society recommends eating these vegetables for the prevention of cancer, and truthfully I think most of us don’t eat anywhere near enough fresh green vegetables!

Read more about the health benefits of arugula here. 

Cayenne Pepper:

Cayenne pepper can boost your immune system and help clear out your sinuses if you have a cold.  It contains capsaicin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  I know people that make it a point to sprinkle some on every smoothie they make.

Here I would stick to the spice bottle and just sprinkle some on.  I think trying to pulverize a whole cayenne pepper in the mix would end up being too much.  If you try it, drop me a comment and let me know how it worked out.

Cinnamon:

Cinnamon has a naturally sweet taste without the calories or blood sugar spike associated with sugar.  Cinnamon tops the list in terms of anti-oxidant levels of all the popular herbs and spices.

Cinnamon’s health benefits derive from cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, and cinnamate.  These compounds give it antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, immunity-boosting, cancer and heart disease-protecting abilities.

Cinnamon has a long list of health benefits we wrote about in this post on why you should substitute cinnamon for sugar as much as possible.  

You can just sprinkle some into your smoothie from the spice jar.  Or if you have a powerful blender, you can just drop a cinnamon stick in.

Turmeric:

Turmeric is one of the superfood rising stars.  It doesn’t significantly change the flavor so I add it to every smoothie I make.  It’s said to be a powerful anti-cancer agent, anti-inflammatory agent, and support healthy digestion.

It’s also been found to improve brain function, and help prevent or even reduce brain diseases.  This includes Alzheimer’s. You can read more on the health benefits of turmeric here.  

You can either buy fresh turmeric root at the store and grind it up in your smoothie, or just sprinkle some in the blender from the spice jar. 

Bee Pollen:

Bee pollen is a nutritional powerhouse.  One of the thing that make it unique is that it provides all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.  The only other non-meat/dairy complete protein I know of is quinoa.  It’s delicious taste works well in a number of types of smoothies, particularly those that use nut milks, contain fruits and or cinnamon.

Ginger:

ginger
Grated Ginger Root

Ginger is a delicious spice with powerful medicinal properties.  It’s known to help with everything from menstrual pains and cancer to controlling blood sugar and reducing menstrual pain.  You can read more about the health benefits of ginger on Healthline.   

You can grate some ginger root and add it, or just sprinkle some in from the spice jar.  It goes well with smoothies where you add cinnamon.

Tea:

I was delighted when I discovered how delicious tea is in a smoothie.  Simply brew up a cup on the strong side, let it cool and use that for the liquid you add.  Tea has a long impressive list of health benefits.  It also adds caffeine that seems to release more slowly than coffee so you don’t get the lift followed by the slump.

Rooibos tea also has a very impressive nutrient profile.  It’s a great choice if you don’t want the caffeine and it’s exceptionally delicious in fruit smoothies.  Check out two of the delicious smoothie recipes we tested with tea.  You’ll become a “tea smoothie” fan as soon as you do!

Strawberry Green Tea Smoothie Recipe

Strawberry Kiwi Rooibos Tea Smoothie Recipe

Coconut Water:

Coconut water has become the rage as a natural alternative to sports drinks to replenish the electrolytes you lose during intense exercise.  It’s particularly high in potassium, but also in manganese, magnesium, sodium and calcium.  Make it part of the smoothies you make to replenish after jogging or working out.

Greek Yogurt:

What Greek yogurt brings to the table is protein and the probiotics you need for a healthy gut.  I usually stick to plain Greek yogurt and get my fruit flavor from the ingredients I add.  Two exceptions is I find the coconut and the vanilla ones can add a delicious taste to certain smoothies.

Getting a NutriBullet and adding smoothies to my daily diet changed my life from dragging myself through the days and being concerned about some developing health issues to waking with energy and vitality that lasts most of the day.

There are obviously more superfoods that you could add into your smoothies you may think of.  These are the ones I turn to and swear by. 

Here’s to that healthy new body you promised yourself in this new year!