While it’s always best to get the majority of your nutrients from whole foods, smoothies work very well as an occasional meal replacement and/or a way to pack extra nutrition into your diet between or with meals.
You might already be a smoothie fanatic and curious about how to reap the maximum benefits from your blended beverage, or maybe you’re wondering what all the fuss is about. Consider the following reasons for why smoothies can be a great addition to a healthy diet:
Breakfast On-The-Go? Try a Smoothie!
This goes for any meal of the day, but usually breakfast is notoriously on-the-go, and this is where poor food choices are often made. Also (for many), breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day, and skipping it completely or eating a breakfast high in refined carbs and sugars can set you up for cravings and increased overall calorie intake (1).
Breakfasts grabbed on-the-go are far more likely to include nutrient-void foods like bread, bagels or processed nutrition bars, but smoothies make a far healthier alternative that can set your day on the right food (especially with the add-ins listed below).
Give Your Digestion a Rest
Suffer from digestive upset, such as gas, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, etc? If so, giving your digestion an occasional break from the hard work it takes to digest a meal and replacing it with a liquid meal (AKA, a smoothie) might be helpful.
Top 10 Smoothie Add-Ins to Supercharge Your Morning
Here are the top 10 ways to add as many nutrients as possible to your smoothie, and start your day right.
Both spiruilna and chlorella are microalgaes, and are incredibly nutrient dense. Spirulina is actually a great source of plant protein (4 grams of protein per 1 gram serving), and is also high in B vitamins, copper and iron (2). Studies show that spirulina is highly anti-inflammatory (3), and many find that it gives a far better energy boost than their morning cup of coffee.
The second microalgae on the list is equally as nutritious as spirulina, but does slightly differ in its nutrient profile. Chlorella is particularly well known for its unique ability to aid in the body’s detoxification processes, as it can bind with harmful chemicals, heavy metals and pesticides to escort them out of the body (also known ad a chelating agent).
You should aim for at least 5 servings of veggies per day (a serving=1 cup cooked or 2 cups raw), and balancing out the fruit you add to your smoothie with veggies is important. Most people lack sufficient dark, leafy greens in the diet, which are important for getting the vitamins and minerals we need (like magnesium, for example). Throw in a handful of spinach, kale, chard or arugula to your smoothie, and you probably won’t even taste the difference.
Chia seeds are definitely in the “superfood” category, and are quite low in calories, as well. They are rich in fiber and antioxidants, not to mention they’re another good plant source of protein. Chia seeds have been shown to lower your risk of heart disease (4).
High in anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, flax seeds are another perfect smoothie add-in. These tasty seeds are also high in fiber, which is crucial for healthy digestion (5). With both flax and chia seeds, add one tablespoon of ground seeds, as these are much more digestible than the whole-seed version.
This less-known smoothie addition has been used historically for hormonal balance and an increased libido in both men and women (6). Whenever possible, choose organic, raw mama powder and follow the serving size listed on the brand you purchase (unless otherwise advised by your healthcare professional). Maca has a sweet, nutty taste that goes well with cinnamon and coconut milk.
Matcha is a type of green tea that has been grown and processed differently than the green tea you usually drink, and comes in powder form. It has been used throughout time in special Japanese tea ceremonies, and studies show that matcha green tea is higher in antioxidants and caffeine, and has been proven very effective in fighting fungal and bacterial infections (7).
Coconut oil gives your smoothie a super-dose of healthy fats, and medium chain triglycerides (the type you’ll get with coconut oil) are known to increase energy and boost weight loss due to their ability to increase fat-burning (8). Add one tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil to your smoothie.
While we’re on the subject of healthy fats, don’t forget that avocado is also a great way to increase the satiety factor of your smoothie (how full it makes you feel), as well as the nutrition. Add in 1/4 of an avocado for a rich and creamy texture to your smoothie, and a fairly neutral taste.
Last but definitely not least, cinnamon is well known for its blood sugar balancing properties, so can go a long way in helping you to curb sugar and carb cravings throughout the day (9). Also, cinnamon is a natural sweetener, so you might be able to use it instead of other sweeteners in your smoothie (like honey or maple syrup). Adding a dash of cinnamon makes almost any smoothie that much more delicious and nutritious.
As a base for smoothies, choose an unsweetened almond or coconut milk, or even a raw cow’s milk if you’re not intolerant to dairy. Fruit is fine but don’t go overboard, as a smoothie that is pure fruit can definitely lead to a rapid spike and dip of your blood sugar, setting you up for cravings later on. Including these add-ins will boost the nutrient density of your smoothie with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, good fats and more.