Smoothies can be good for you—as long as you make them right. They can increase intake of healthy fruits and veggies, boost vitamin and mineral levels, and provide important phytonutrients known to protect against serious health issues like cardiovascular disease.
The most important thing is to watch your sugar intake. When you blend fruits and veggies into a juice, you’re breaking down the cell walls and exposing the sugars within. This creates more “free sugars” that can add to your daily calorie count while spiking blood sugar levels.
It will help to leave the skins on your ingredients when you can, as this adds important fiber content to your smoothie. Then, choose lower-sugar fruits, lots of vegetables, and even nuts and yogurt to make your smoothie protein- and fiber-rich.
How can you get the biggest nutrient punch in your smoothie today? Below are ten of the best superfoods you can use.
1. Acai Berries
These little round fruits grow on acai palm trees. They have dark purple skin and yellow flesh around a large seed. They’re considered low-sugar fruits and are loaded with antioxidants. In a 2010 study, they were found to be much higher in antioxidants than many other fruits, including apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and more.
2. Hemp Seeds
High in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, and iron, these are super nutritious and have been linked to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease. Hemp seeds are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients and are a complete source of protein. Add these to your smoothie and you’ll stay satisfied for hours.
Other good high-fiber seeds to add to your smoothie include chia and flax seeds.
This is a high-grade green tea ground into a powdered form. Add this to your smoothie and you get the benefits of green tea, which are many. It’s rich in catechins, a type of plant compound that acts as an antioxidant in the body, preventing cell damage and reducing your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Matcha (and green tea) have also been found to help support cognitive function.
Cacao plants have two edible parts: the seeds (also called beans) and the fruit. Cacao seeds are made into chocolate, while cacao fruit is sometimes used in beverages.
Cacao is a true superfood as it’s loaded with antioxidants. It’s the ingredient in dark chocolate that makes it healthy. Studies have linked cacao to better cardiovascular health and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. You can use cacao powder, butter, or nibs in your smoothie and enjoy the chocolate taste along with better health.
5. Low-Sugar Fruits
Any low-sugar fruit is great to add to your smoothie, particularly if you leave the skins on. Good options include strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, lemons, limes, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, apricots, kiwi, cranberries, oranges, and avocados (yes, they’re considered a fruit!). All provide important vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to your smoothie.
If you don’t have time to shop for your fruits, you can do Edible Arrangement delivery for free. They have a fresh fruits box that brings your smoothie fruits right to your door.
6. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens, collard greens, and more are loaded with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you need for good health. You can’t eat salads every day, so adding these to your smoothies is a good way to get them into your daily diet. They freeze well, so you can buy the frozen versions to have ready whenever you need them.
Walnuts are stars when it comes to disease-fighting nutrients. Regular consumption has been linked to lower total and LDL “bad” cholesterol, lower triglycerides, reduced inflammation, and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. They are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and even healthy probiotics. You can add them to the blender with your other ingredients or use them to top off your smoothie after it’s poured.
8. Mushroom Powders
The health benefits of mushrooms have been known for centuries, but they have become super popular lately. They’re rich in fiber, protein, and antioxidants, but they’re low in calories and sugar, making them the perfect addition to your smoothies. Many are also rich in B vitamins.
You can use mushroom powder to make it easy. There are many available at health food stores. Add Chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps, shiitake, or any others that you’d like to try.