A smoothie might just be a nicer term for "liquid meal" but regardless, it can be an effective way to give your body some high quality fuel that might just make you feel on top of the world! Here are five (well, technically six) highly nutritious foods that are perfect for your liquid meal.
Add leafy greens, including kale and spinach, to smoothies for a boost of vitamin K and beta carotene.
Vitamin K is essential for wound healing, supports bone strength and also plays a role in strengthening immune function.
Beta carotene supports immune function as well, along with improvements in diabetic retinopathy for those with type 2 diabetes, fights tumor growth, protects skin from sun damage, and supports better vision. Beta carotene is a carotenoid that is effective in the production of active vitamin A. By weight, spinach is among the top three-richest sources for it, behind sweet potatoes (the number one source) and carrots.
Leafy greens are a decent source of folate, a B-vitamin that's essential for proper cell function, fetal development, sustained energy, and improved memory. Greens will even contribute to your total daily calcium and potassium intake!
In smoothies, leafy greens are paired well with lemon, ginger, and berries.
Turmeric contains a powerful polyphenol, curcumin, and it’s an impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.
From knocking out free radicals and fighting inflammation, the curcumin in turmeric could play a positive role on your lipid profile, such as decreasing total cholesterol and LDL-C, and increasing HDL-C. As few as two grams of curcumin a day have been associated with improvements in symptoms of ulcerative colitis, reducing amyloid beta plaque in the brain, alleviating depression, and preventing joint inflammation and swelling.
But let’s not stop there. Curcumin is known to lower blood glucose levels, reduce insulin resistance, and slow generation of fat cells. Altogether, curcumin is a well-known, seriously powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that will serve your body well!
You might appreciate turmeric most in smoothies that feature yellow and orange colored foods like mango, bananas, pumpkin and carrots, as you’ll see this yellowy-orange-colored food pigments everything it touches!
Cinnamon is well-known for its blood sugar regulation in type 2 diabetes. It may even play a role in lowering cholesterol and regulating blood pressure. Supplementation of cinnamon has also been shown to reduce triglycerides.
Studies have suggested that the warm spice may reduce lipid (fat) accumulation in the liver, and interfere with the formation and accumulation of inflammatory compounds linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
While more research is needed, it can’t hurt to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to your smoothie!
Cinnamon pairs wonderfully with chocolate, bananas, apples and pears.
Hemp hearts are an efficient form of nutrition! Just three tablespoons provide 12 grams of omega-3 fatty acid and 10 grams of protein, together contributing feelings of fullness, satiety, and sustained energy levels.
Adding hemp hearts to your smoothie can support your body’s response to stress, regulate metabolism, strengthen bones and teeth, lower blood pressure, and prevent headaches. That’s thanks to magnesium and potassium, where 3 tablespoons provide over 200mg and 350mg, respectively.
Hemp hearts have a place in your smoothie where it may need a boost of healthy fats and protein. They add a mild and nutty flavor, along with a pleasantly soft texture.
Cocoa & Cacao
Since both chocolate powders are significantly similar, they’re being presented together. Yet, they do have differences, and here’s the primary one:
Cocoa powder is cacao without cocoa butter. Making you cuckoo crazy trying to wrap your head around that one? You’re tellin' me!
Both are chocolate products that are rich in antioxidants and great for boosting memory and mood. They can even support regular blood pressure, insulin levels and insulin sensitivity, and even reduce oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.
Perhaps most comforting of all is that cocoa and cacao support satiety. Having a little chocolate after a meal doesn’t have to be so bad after all! Especially if it’s coming in the form of a nutrient-dense smoothie. Add cocoa or cacao to smoothies featuring bananas, nut and seed butters, berries, and coffee!
And here’s a fun fact for ya...
Cocoa beans were used throughout Mesoamerica as currency, a practice that probably existed for many centuries. Columbus and his crew encountered some Amerindians who were very protective of their “almonds” (what were really cocoa seeds/beans).
Cheers to fabulous health!
The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website. If you're interested in making diet and lifestyle changes to gain fabulous health, we have nutrition and wellness service options that could help:
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References & Additional Reading:
Badrie, N., Bekele, F., Sikora, E., & Sikora, M. (2015). Cocoa agronomy, quality, nutritional, and health aspects. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 55(5), 620–659. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2012.669428
CraftChocolateTV. (2020, Jul 20). How We Make Cacao Nibs | Ep.50 | Craft Chocolate TV). YouTube. https://youtu.be/kVdor-5kM0o
Cometto, A. (2021, Nov 5). One Plant, Numerous Benefits. Fabulous Nutrition LLC. https://www.fabulous-nutrition.com/post/sweetpotatoes.
Gruenwald, J., Freder, J., & Armbruester, N. (2010). Cinnamon and health. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 50(9), 822–834. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408390902773052
Jiang T.A. (2019). Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices. Journal of AOAC International, 102(2), 395-411. https://doi.org/10.5740/jaoacint.18-0418
Montagna, M. T., Diella, G., Triggiano, F., Caponio, G. R., De Giglio, O., Caggiano, G., Di Ciaula, A., & Portincasa, P. (2019). Chocolate, "Food of the Gods": History, Science, and Human Health. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4960. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244960
Nutrition Data: Know what you eat. (2018, May 25). Collards, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2410/2
Nutrition Data: Know what you eat. (2018, May 25). Kale, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2
Nutrition Data: Know what you eat. (2018, May 25). Spices, cinnamon, ground [Cassia], Nutrition Facts & Calories. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/180/2
Nutrition Data: Know what you eat. (2018, May 25). Spinach, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2
VitaJing Herbs. (2019, Apr 19). Difference Between Cacao & Cocoa? YouTube. https://youtu.be/xxuCGtc_GTo
Zimmermann, B. F., & Ellinger, S. (2020). Cocoa, Chocolate, and Human Health. Nutrients, 12(3), 698. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030698