Smoothies make for a nutritious breakfast, a quick post-workout snack or an evening dessert. By adding superfoods, you will be able to boost the nutritional value of your smoothies.  There are many amazing superfoods for smoothies, and this article will discuss the nutritional benefits as well as best pairings to create tasty and healthy drinks.

By definition superfoods are calorie sparse and nutrient dense, meaning they pack a lot of punch for their weight as far as goodness goes. They are superior sources of antioxidants and essential nutrients – nutrients we need but cannot make ourselves. Antioxidants, also known as free radical scavengers, can neutralize or destroy free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to our body.  Kickstart your day with a smoothie instead of coffee.  Antioxidants offer powerful protection, on a cellular level, for your body.

Smoothies can supplement a well-balanced diet, but they can also be consumed exclusively, like with this green smoothie cleanse.  Here are some the best superfoods for smoothies that heal.

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Green leafy vegetables – spinach, dandelion, kale, lettuce

Fresh, raw green leafy vegetables contain high doses of chlorophyll, easily digestible proteins, enzymes and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. These particular vegetables act as mini-transfusions for the blood, a health tonic for the brain and immune system.

Suggested vegetable pairings with:

– Herbs, berries, ginger, lemon, avocado, nut milk, hemp and chia seeds, ground flax seeds

Bee Superfoods – raw honey, bee pollen, propolis

You may be familiar with the health benefits of honey, but bee pollen is considered one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods [1]. Bee pollen is the food of the young bee and it is approximately 40% protein. It contains nearly all nutrients required by humans. About half of its protein is in the form of free amino acids that are ready to be used directly by the body.

A tablespoon of bee pollen is said to contain between 24-35% protein, 12 vitamins, 22 minerals, 22 amino acids (you only need 8 or 9 of these aminos) and up to 5000+ enzymes.

The powerful antibiotic properties of propolis can help protect humans from bacteria and can strengthen our immune system.

Caution – Bee pollen is not safe for pregnant women. A woman should also avoid using bee pollen if she is breastfeeding.

Suggested bee superfood pairings with:

– Any smoothie recipe

superfoods for smoothies2

Nuts – raw cacao, coconut

Raw cacao beans have an antioxidant (ORAC) score of 95,500. To put that into perspective, that is 14 times more flavonoids (antioxidants) than red wine and 21 times more than green tea [2]. The antioxidants in cocoa nibs are also more stable than in other foods and are easy for the body to assimilate.

They also extremely high in magnesium which has been found to be the most common deficient major mineral even following a balanced diet. Cacao contains phenethylamine which is said to increase focus and alertness.

When selecting cacao, look for raw cacao if possible. Ultimately, it’s best to get whole beans and grind them up yourself. Cacao nibs (pieces) are second best. Powder is the most convenient for adding to green smoothies.

Coconut Coconut is an incredible superfoood!  You can use coconut water or coconut oil. Young coconuts are one of the highest sources of electrolytes in nature. Electrolytes are ionized salts in our cells, which transport energy throughout the body.

Drinking the juice from a young coconut is like giving your body an instant blood transfusion. Coconut oil supports healthy metabolic function and is a revered anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent.

Suggested nut pairings with:

– Coconut, nut butter, nut milk, red berries, vanilla, orange, mint, reishi and chaga mushroom powder/tea, mesquite, maca

Berries – blueberries, goji and acai

Goji berries are an especially rich source of beta-carotene and provide a significant calorie boost to green smoothies without adding a lot of bulk. The best part of using berries in a smoothie – they are low calorie, low glycemic load (GL) goodness packed with abundant amount of antioxidants.  It’s the easiest way to add sweetness without adding calories. Safe even for people who are on a candida diet.

Suggested berry pairings with:

– In any smooothie, try this flat tummy-friendly strawberry smoothie recipe.

Algae – spirulina, chlorella

Algae is a huge family of organisms that range in size from microscopic to 180 feet long (seaweed). Algae are abundant, high in minerals, and can be good sources of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, essential fatty acids and vitamins.

Spirulina is 65-71 percent complete protein compared to beef, which is only 22 percent, and lentils, which is only 26 percent [3].

According to a study done by the Department of Aquataculture in Taiwan, [4] spirulina shows significant immune-boosting properties. Spirulina has been shown to encourage and support the growth of healthy bacterial flora in your gut [5,6].

Caution – you should not take spirulina if you have a severe seafood or iodine allergy. And, if you are pregnant or nursing or have hyperthyroidism, consult your healthcare provider before taking spirulina.

Suggested algae pairings with:

– Banana, greens, avocado, lemon, coconut water, bee products, berries, papaya

Spices – cinnamon and cloves

Cinnamon and cloves are so much more than a fragrant spice.

One teaspoon of cinnamon provides a whopping 22% of the daily recommended value in manganese that helps the body form strong bones, connective tissues, and sex hormones, and coagulates the blood properly. It helps metabolize fat and carbohydrates, regulate blood sugar, absorb calcium, and is essential for optimal brain and nerve function.  WatchFit also offers recipes for metabolism-boosting smoothies

Suggested spice pairings with:

– Apple, pear, banana, coconut, nut butter, nut milk, dates, pumpkin, vanilla, chocolate

Herbs – parsley, matcha green tea powder

Parsley has one of the highest vitamin C levels of any herb. Parsley is valuable for more than its high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, Vitamin A, and folic acid as well as its iron, calcium, and magnesium.

It has volatile oils with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The antioxidant value of parsley is 73,670 μ mol TE/100g [7]. Add a handful of this herb alongside with other ingredients for a healthier kick.

Caution – parsley should not be consumed in excess by pregnant women. It is safe in normal food quantities, but large amounts can have uterotonic effects.

Matcha One scoop of powder in your smoothie is the equivalent of drinking multiple glasses of green tea.

Matcha green tea possesses antioxidant levels 6.2 times that of goji berries, 7 times that of dark chocolate, 17 times that of wild blueberries and 60.5 times that of spinach [8].  Drink before your next workout for enhanced energy and optimal focusing abilities.

Suggested herb pairings with:

– Berries, green veggies, ginger, lemon

Mushrooms – Reishi, chaga

Tree mushrooms may contain the most potent anti-oxidants, contain polysaccharides (beta glucans, protein-bound xylogalactoglucans) important for the immune system, Superoxide Dismutase (a potent free-radical scavenger), and many more fantastic qualities.

By adding mushroom powder or making smoothie based mushroom tea, we can increase our energy, and fortify our overall vitality.

Suggested mushroom pairings with:

– Raw cacao/chocolate, nuts and nut milk, berries, lemon, coconut oil, avocado, bee products

A good website to visit for easy ORAC searches is http://oracvalues.com/sort/orac-value/. The values reported are for 100 grams of the food.

There are few examples of my favorite superfood smoothie recipes:

Energizing Green Superfood Smoothie

Vibrant Green Smoothie

Good Morning Smoothie

Healthy, convenient and portable, smoothies are ideal fuel-on-the-go for breakfast, an afternoon snack or dessert. Enjoy!

Please leave a note and share your experience.

References:

[1] http://beepollen.info/
[2] http://oracvalues.com/
[3] http://www.naturalways.com/spirulina.htm
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20837149
[5] http://www.candidafood.com/spirulina-in-the-candida-diet/
[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18714150
[7] http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/parsley.html
[8] http://www.matchasource.com/matcha-tea-health-benefits-s/14.htm

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