THE BEST SUPERFOODS TO ADD TO SMOOTHIES
We actually eat a lot of “superfoods” on a daily basis without even realizing it. Everyday foods like like avocado, pumpkin, coconut, cinnamon, blueberries, spinach, kale and other vegetables are all wonderful and nutritious smoothie ingredients. Start with those and if you have the means to start adding some of these extra superfoods, go for it!
These powerful superfoods offer a wide range of health benefits from reducing inflammation, to preventing chronic disease and improving mood and sleep. If you eat a plant-based diet and/or are an athlete, these superfoods can be particularly helpful in covering all your nutritional bases and improving recovery from exercises-related stress.
WHERE TO START WITH SUPERFOODS
This is a big list. You’re probably not going to be using all of these superfoods, all the time. For one that would be very expensive. For two, as I mentioned above, there are plenty of affordable, everyday superfoods you should be eating regularly anyways. Start with those. Next, you can have some fun and reap the health benefits of adding these super super foods to your diet. So, which superfoods should you start with?
BEST SUPERFOODS TO ADD TO SMOOTHIES
1. HEMP SEEDS
Best Benefits: complete source of protein, omega-3, vitamin E, energy
Hemp seeds are a true superfood in every sense of the word. High in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, calcium and iron, they’re one of the most nutritious seeds available. Eating hemp seeds on a regular basis can prevent arterial plaque buildup, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, provide energy and support the immune and circulatory systems.
They are also anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants so can help improve recovery times from disease, injury and exercise. A complete source of protein, they’re also an excellent food for vegans and vegetarians.
Hemp seeds are readily available and moderately priced. They have a nutty and earthy but mild flavour flavour and can be blended into smoothies, used to create hemp milk for smoothies or used as a topping for smoothie bowls.
Try hemp seeds in my Mint Matcha Chip Smoothie Bowl.
2. CHIA SEEDS
Best Benefits: protein, omega-3, fibre, magnesium
Chia seeds are anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, a good source of protein and fibre and are high in phytonutrients, electrolytes and mineral. Just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contain 18% of your daily calcium and 30% of your daily magnesium. Chia seeds also contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, which many people are deficient in.
Chia seeds are readily available in-stores or online and moderately priced. I always have chia seeds in my kitchen and I find their versatility and health benefits to be worth the investment.
Chia seeds can be blended into any smoothie or sprinkled on top. You can also soak them in a bit of water before adding to the smoothie to create a hydrating and energizing gel that will blend in completely.
Best Benefits: magnesium, antioxidants
Cacao can typically be found in stores as either cacao powder, cacao butter or cacao nibs. I like stocking cacao powder and cacao nibs in my kitchen for using in smoothies and other raw food recipes. Cacao is chocolate in it’s purest form. It’s thought to be the highest source of antioxidants of any food and it’s also high in magnesium, an important mineral many people fall short on.
Cacao tastes bitter but rich and decadent. I absolutely love cacao nibs and use them as a topping on almonds every smoothie I make. Cacao nibs are simply cacao beans chopped up into pieces, similar to a chocolate chip except they don’t have any added fats or sugar. They do however, still contain all the nutrition you’d find in the cacao bean and they’re crunchy texture and deep chocolate flavour make them an awesome smoothie addition.
Cacao in all it’s forms is an excellent source of fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre, natural carbohydrates, and protein that make it an excellent and energizing smoothie superfood! If you love chocolate, cacao is a must-have for your kitchen!
Try cacao in my Chocolate Zucchini Smoothie Bowl or my Chocolate Almond Avocado Smoothie and stock up on raw cacao nibs for the ultimate smoothie bowl topping!
4. LEAFY GREENS
Best Benefits: antioxidants, weight loss, fibre, phytonutrients
Ah, leafy greens. One of my favourite everyday superfoods that deserve to be on any best superfood list. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens, collard greens and even romaine are all hydrating, loaded with vitamins and minerals and are so low in calories it’s negligible.
They’re also readily available, freeze well, are affordable and can easily be blended into most smoothies with much effect on flavour.
5. GROUND FLAX SEEDS
Best Benefits: omega-3, fibre, protein, lignans, energy
Flax seed is easy to find and a versatile and healthy food to stock in your kitchen. The health benefits of flax include improved digestion, healthy skin, lower cholesterol, reduced sugar cravings, cancer prevention and more. Flax is high in omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source lignans, powerful polyphenol antioxidants that benefits range from anti-aging to hormone balancing.
To use flax seeds in smoothies, opt for ground flax, which you can either purchase ground or as whole flax seeds and grind them yourself. One benefit to grinding your own is your ground flax will be fresh every time. I buy ground flax and store it in the freezer to prolong it’s freshness. Ground flax seeds can be added right into smoothies or mixed with water first to form a thick gel, then added to smoothies.
Flax has an earthy, nutty flavour and goes well with flavours like cinnamon, maca, walnuts, banana and berries.
Best Benefits: energy, antioxidants
I love adding matcha to smoothies for the sustained boost in energy from it’s caffeine content. It also adds a beautiful, bright green colour to smoothies and packs a ton of disease-fighting antioxidants. Matcha goes well with ingredients like tropical fruits, vanilla, avocado, blueberry, coconut and ginger.
Try it in my Mint Matcha Chip Smoothie Bowl Recipe.
7. RAW WALNUTS
Best Benefits: brain health, omega-3, vitamin E, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants
Walnuts are a true superfood in every sense of the word. By including a daily serving of walnuts in your diet you can enjoy their cancer-fighting properties, improved brain health, increased levels of healthy cholesterol and take advantage of their many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Walnuts can also help with weight control, diabetes management.
Raw walnuts go well with flavours like almond butter, banana, cinnamon, pumpkin, sweet potato, strawberries, maca, coffee and vanilla. They can be added right into the blender with the rest of your ingredients or used a topping for smoothie bowls. You may want to consider soaking your nuts to before using to break down the phytic acid and allow for proper digestion
8. CAMU CAMU POWDER
Best Benefits: antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, vitamin C, supports immune system, balances mood, eye and brain health
Camu camu powder is a less common superfood but it definitely deserves to be on this list. Camu camu powder comes from a small, reddish fruit with yellow pulp an contains more vitamin C than any other food source recorded. In addition, it contains powerful phytochemicals like beta-carotene, potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, phosphorus and a range of key amino acids. Camu camu is antiviral and with it’s high vitamin C content, an excellent way to support a healthy immune system. Camu camu powder can be blended into any smoothie and works well with berries, tropical fruits, leafy greens and cashews.
9. MUSHROOM POWDERS
Best Benefits: immune-boosting, antioxidants, adaptogenic
I use two superfood mushroom powders on occasion in my kitchen: chaga and reishi mushroom. Chaga mushroom grows on birch trees in colder climates across North American. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much but this superfood mushroom offers a range of powerful health benefits.
Chaga mushroom is most know for it’s ability to support the immune system but it also contains a range of disease-fighting antioxidants, can help normalize blood pressure and cholesterol and has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
The other superfood mushroom which is probably easier to find in stores, is reishi mushroom. Reishi mushrooms have long been used in Asian cultures and has long been a symbol of well-being and longevity. Reishi also supports the body’s immune system and can improve blood circulation. It’s also been used to help treat anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia and even asthma. Both of these mushrooms, much like maca, are considered to be adaptogens.
Adaptogens are natural substances considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. In today’s society, we are exposed to so many environmental stressors, adaptogens may help our bodies maintain a normalized state despite the constant barrage of stress we experience today.
Best Benefits : anti-inflammatory, antioxidants
Mostly due to curcumin, turmeric is one of the most powerful antioxidants and and anti-inflammatories on the planet. For those with joint pain, for athletes or those with chronic inflammatory conditions, turmeric is a good superfood to include in your diet regularly. You can do more than just use it in to curry too.
I add it smoothies and desserts all the time. It’s not too overpowering and I love the colour it adds. Try it in my Peanut Butter Cup Protein Shake or my Butternut Squash Carrot Smoothie Bowl.
At the Goodwill Charity, our mission goes beyond supporting people who are experiencing financial difficulties to also supporting people who need a push in the right direction. We offer motivational and emotional counselling to anyone who seeks it. Click here to read more.