10 superfoods to supercharge your smoothies
Love a good smoothie? Get the lowdown on the best superfoods to add for extra kick!
Smoothies are a convenient, nutritious way to combine different foods in one easy meal. And they’re certainly not just a fad. According to Mayo Clinic dietician Katherine Zeratsky, superfoods are an important part of our health-aware society.
James Colquhoun explains that smoothies consist of whole fruits or vegetables, including the skin and all the fibre, making them especially nutritious. He loves that smoothies are quick to make and fuss-free.
“It’s even easier when you create your own smoothie packs and place them in the freezer ahead of time,” he says.
This is as easy as adding greens or fruit, coconut water or milk, and a teaspoon or two of your favourite superfood to a container or reusable zip lock bag, and freezing it. The last step, says Colquhoun, is to put all the ingredients in a blender with a little extra water or milk.
Since they tend to be more filling than plain juice, smoothies can serve as great early-morning get-up-and-go drinks or beverage snacks throughout the day.
Not sure which superfoods to add to your smoothies for an extra boost? We rounded up 10 of the best.
In the mood for love? Add a tablespoon of maca powder to your smoothie.
The ancient Peruvians used maca to enhance sexual desire as well as to heighten stamina and endurance. As a member of the cruciferous family, which includes radishes and turnips, maca is also a potent adaptogen that balances and stabilises the nervous system, cardiovascular system and glandular-hormonal system.
Dried, organic, raw maca powder is available at organic food and health shops, but make sure you only buy reputable, organic brands of maca root that don’t include other parts of the plant.
- Acai berries
Find your focus with acai, a grapelike berry found in the South American rainforests.
Harvested from acai palm trees, acai berries have anti-inflammatory effects and are packed with antioxidants, protein and fibre.
Use raw acai, acai juice, or add a tablespoon of acai powder to your smoothie to give it a slightly chocolaty flavour. It will boost your energy level at the same time.
Nitrate-rich beets help to reduce the amount of oxygen your body’s muscles and blood vessels need to function.
Blend a small beetroot with an apple, a lemon, a handful of spinach, and two celery stalks, and serve with ice to put some zip into your afternoon. Alternatively, use powdered beetroot extract.
4. Aloe vera
Curb heartburn and indigestion by adding aloe vera juice or gel to your favourite smoothie.
This perennial medicinal succulent isn’t just good for healing heal cuts, bruises, burns and skin conditions. Studies have identified aloe vera as a superfood because it contains no less than 75 healing compounds, enzymes, minerals, amino acids, antibiotic agents, as well as natural steroids.
With its high concentration of natural sulphur (MSM), aloe vera juice alkalises the digestive tract, preventing acid reflux, ulcers, heartburn and indigestion. When mixed with fresh ginger and fruits such as lemon and strawberries, just one aloe vera leaf or a tablespoon of aloe vera gel, added to a smoothie, can help you lose weight.
Ward off colds, flu and pain with noni, a fruit from the evergreen canary wood shrub that Polynesian islanders have used as a regenerative medicine for more than 1,500 years.
Packed with minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients and enzymes, studies have shown that the anti-bacterial properties of the lime-green noni fruit are even effective against pathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria. Also known as the “painkiller tree”, noni has powerful pain-reduction qualities.
While it’s available in powdered pulp or juice form, many of the nutrients are lost when the fruit is juiced – unless you choose a brand that’s not pasteurised. Don’t let its rather unpleasant smell put you off; simply add it to a smoothie with other ingredients.
Always fancied having the stamina of an Aztec warrior? Then you should consider quinoa.
Harvested from the goosefoot plant, quinoa is actually a seed, even though the Incas called it the mother of grains. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, which is why it’s known as a complete protein food.
Boost your protein intake and naturally lower your blood pressure by adding some cooked quinoa to a smoothie.
7. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are one of the most popular superfoods, with people adding them to smoothies, desserts, yoghurts and drinks.
Chia, meaning “strength” in Mayan, are sourced from the chia plant Salvia hispanica found in Guatemala and certain areas of Mexico. Not only are chia seeds one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but they’re also an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Chia seeds have a mildly sweet flavour and can be used whole, ground or soaked. Add the seeds to a smoothie after a high-intensity workout to replenish energy levels and replace lost electrolytes.
If you’re worried about premature ageing, kale is a good superfood option for your smoothie.
This dark-green, leafy vegetable resembles spinach and belongs to the cabbage family. Kale has plenty of nutrients, including beneficial fibre, calcium, essential minerals, and vitamin A and C. The veggie also contains a nutrient known as lutein, which brightens the white of the eyes and benefits the skin.
Always wash kale leaves before using them.
Boost your immune system with raw cacao, which is regarded as one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants in any food.
Besides also having plenty of magnesium, iron, chromium and vitamin C, an added bonus is that cacao’s rich chocolaty flavour helps to satisfy sugar cravings.
Blend two to four tablespoons of raw cacao powder into your daily smoothie, but make sure you buy certified organic raw cacao as powder, nibs or whole beans to ensure all its heat-sensitive vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are intact. Remember you’ll have to add some natural sweetener, like stevia as raw cacao is bitter.
Had too much to drink? Hangovers make you feel horrible because reduced electrolyte levels cause dehydration. Try drinking coconut water before you stagger off to bed, and you’ll feel okay the next morning.
All parts of a coconut are nutritious. Another tip is to add coconut milk to your smoothie as a quick energy source to enhance physical endurance and athletic performance.
If you want to lose weight, try adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to your fruity or green breakfast smoothie. Coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids, which support healthy metabolic function by speeding up metabolism and preventing the formation of fats.