More Amazing Natural Ingredients to Enhance the Nutrition of Your Smoothie: Part 2
"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 SIX highly nutritious foods that are perfect for your blended beverage.
And in case you missed it, Part 1 shared five other (well, technically six) highly nutritious foods you can toss in the blender!
Maca is a root that originates from the Andes mountains of Peru and has been used as food and medicine for at least 1,200 years. Occasionally it’s marketed as “Peruvian Ginseng,” though it is not actually part of the ginseng family. Instead, it belongs to the Brassicaceae family, along with broccoli, Brussels spouts and horseradish.
Maca is touted for its benefits on sexual and hormonal health, such as libido and fertility enhancement, mood regulation, alleviation of menopausal symptoms including hot flashes; treatment for erectile dysfunction, and it may also improve sperm count.
This functional plant food has antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties that can boost energy levels, sustain concentration, support exercise performance, lower anxiety and depression, and improve quality of sleep.
While more research needed, it shouldn’t be harmful adding powdered maca to your smoothie. Side effects, if any, are uncommon and mild, mostly including GI symptoms and headaches.
Maca goes best with chocolate flavors, such as cocoa or cacao, as it has very earthy flavors. If you find the flavor totally unpalatable but still want to enjoy the benefits of maca, it's also available in capsule form, which you'll take with a glass of water instead of adding it to a smoothie.
You probably already know this creamy and green fruit is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat with lots of fiber; a great way to add more potassium, alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), vitamin K, B-vitamins, magnesium, copper, and other bioactive compounds such as sterols and carotenoids. Here’s what it all means:
Fiber prevents constipation, supports the microflora of the intestines, and regulates blood sugar. Along with beta-sitosterol, the two will promote healthier levels of cholesterol in the blood stream.
In addition to healthier total cholesterol: carotenoids, potassium, and monounsaturated fat will further strengthen the cardiovascular system by regulating blood pressure, decreasing oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), strengthening blood vessels, and may also reduce triglycerides; altogether, reducing the risk for atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
Alpha tocopherol (vitamin E), an antioxidant, will work on protecting the body from the harmful effects of air pollution, UV rays from the sun and cigarette smoke. It also protects your body’s immune system, along with vitamin K and beta-sitosterol which enhances proliferation of pathogen-fighting lymphocytes and natural killer cells.
Since avocado is relatively mild in flavor, it works well in many smoothies; however, you may love adding it most to green smoothies. Not only will it enhance the nutrient profile that supports fabulous health, it can create a thicker and creamier beverage, too. Because avocado is higher in fat though, you may want to limit other fat-containing foods like dairy milk, nut/seed butters, flaxseed and hemp hearts. Remember to balance the fat with quality carbs and protein to support better blood sugars and energy levels.
Also known as linseed, these small brown seeds are a fantastic source for ALA omega-3 fatty acids where one tablespoon whole seeds provides around 3 grams, and two tablespoons ground (also called flaxseed meal) provide about 4 grams. They’re also a source of fiber, B-vitamins and magnesium.
Many studies exist showing the cardiovascular benefits of flaxseed in any form: whole, ground and oil. Regular consumption of flaxseed (1-2 tablespoons daily) is associated with better blood pressure, healthier LDL-cholesterol levels, a lower risk for atherosclerosis, and lower total cholesterol.
Try adding two tablespoons ground flaxseed to just about any smoothie for a boost in nutrition and cardiovascular health. Take care, however, to store flaxseed in the refrigerator and be sure to use by the “best by date” as the fatty acids can easily oxidize, rendering them counterproductive to health, if not kept cool.
Ginger has long been known for its nausea- and vomiting-reducing action. And there’s more to this anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich root! Most research shows that between just one and five grams of ginger each day is associated with health benefits.
If triglycerides and cholesterol are a concern for you, you may want to consider ginger as a supportive treatment option. About one tablespoon (5 grams) of ground ginger a day could lower triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, as well as increase HDL-cholesterol.
There is evidence that just one gram (about ½ teaspoon) of ground ginger in the morning and at night could facilitate more effective metabolism of fat, prevent storage of fat, reduce body fat, and reduce feelings of hunger.
Animal studies suggest that ginger can reduce joint swelling and cartilage destruction. It may even lower inflammation related to joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
Just one to three grams a day may reduce C-reactive protein, and improve insulin sensitivity in those with diabetes.
As is common, more studies would be helpful in understanding proper dosage in specific treatments. But adding ginger – fresh or ground – is more likely to support health rather than harm it, especially if you enjoy its vibrant and unique taste.
Add up to a tablespoon of ground or fresh ginger to smoothies with lemon, greens, berries, apples, mango or pear.
That’s right! Pollen collected by bees is a nutritive food you can add to your smoothie!
While its nutrient profile will vary based on geographical location, what plant the pollen came from, and the health of the plant, bee pollen tends to be a source of vitamin E, B-vitamins: biotin and folic acid, minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper, essential oils, amino acids, natural antibiotics, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, and several additional life-supportive compounds!
Bee pollen has antibiotic properties, benefits your heart, liver and kidneys, boosts immune function, and may even reduce allergic reactions (the irony there, right?!). In fact, animal studies have shown that the “life-giving dust,” as the Egyptians call it, has stopped production of IgG and IgE, antibodies that are associated with allergic reactions. Of course, in the event of a severe allergic reaction, please use an EpiPen.
As you might imagine, bee pollen has a light and floral scent, and can be added to any smoothie from 1 teaspoon up to 1 tablespoon. Soaking the grains for 5-10 minutes can help with softening them and lead to a smoother smoothie.
If smoothies are commonplace in your dietary patterns, then you can’t go wrong keeping citrus on hand. Citrus peels are a great way to strengthen your immune system with phenolic compounds and flavonoids. These compounds can fight inflammation associated with infection, and act as antioxidants that protect cells against damage.
Remove peels from citrus using a microplane (also called a zester), and add directly to your smoothie. It’s also convenient to freeze zest/peels for later use. Alternatively, you may cut citrus into slices and freeze individually (i.e. lay slices evenly across a parchment-lined sheet, freeze, then store frozen slices in a bag or container in the freezer up to three months). Using citrus slices is an easy way to add both the benefits of the peel and vitamin C from the fruit. Frozen citrus slices will produce a colder and thicker smoothie, too!
Citrus peels will work great in both green or fruity smoothies...maybe not so much chocolate-based ones...but don't ever ignore your curiosity!
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:
Beharry, S., & Heinrich, M. (2018). Is the hype around the reproductive health claims of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) justified?. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 211, 126–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2017.08.003
Bhuyan, D. J., Alsherbiny, M. A., Perera, S., Low, M., Basu, A., Devi, O. A., Barooah, M. S., Li, C. G., & Papoutsis, K. (2019). The Odyssey of Bioactive Compounds in Avocado (Persea americana) and Their Health Benefits. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 8(10), 426. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox8100426
Gottfried, Sara, MD. (2013). The Hormone Cure. New York, NY: Scribner.
Jannesar, M., Sharif Shoushtari, M., Majd, A., & Pourpak, Z. (2017). Bee Pollen Flavonoids as a Therapeutic Agent in Allergic and Immunological Disorders. Iranian journal of allergy, asthma, and immunology, 16(3), 171–182.
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
Kocot, J., Kiełczykowska, M., Luchowska-Kocot, D., Kurzepa, J., & Musik, I. (2018). Antioxidant Potential of Propolis, Bee Pollen, and Royal Jelly: Possible Medical Application. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2018, 7074209.