10 Healthy Boosters for Your Green Smoothie
Ground flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, both of which have been shown to lower cholesterol levels in men and pre-menopausal women with high cholesterol. Research also suggests that ground flaxseed may play a role in reducing total cholesterol, and it may also reduce the “bad cholesterol” in people with normal cholesterol levels. Most health foods stores and supermarkets sell flaxseeds, but if you buy them whole make sure to grind them up before adding them to your smoothies. While you can safely eat whole flaxseeds, your body will not realize their beneficial properties unless they are ground.
2. Raw Cacao
Raw cacao (not to be confused with roasted, processed cocoa) may be a beneficial smoothie additive if used in moderation. Some experts claim that because of its essential fatty acid content, cacao could help the body to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. Cacao is also rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral that supports healthy nerve and muscle function. It also helps control blood glucose and regulate blood pressure. It doesn’t hurt that it tastes great too!
3. Goji Berries
The goji berry, aka “wolfberry,” is a bright red-orange berry that grows on a shrub that’s native to China. These berries have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and have been thought to have “fountain of youth” properties. They are rich in antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. Research is sparse, but some claim that goji berries boost the immune system and have anti-cancer properties. If you are taking blood-thinning or blood pressure medications, make sure to talk to your doctor before adding goji berries to your diet. Goji berries have been known to interact with these medications, most notably warfarin (a blood thinner).
4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are unprocessed whole-grains that have many nutrients and few calories. Chia seeds contain highly-concentrated amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and calcium. Unlike flaxseed, chia seeds can be processed by the body as seeds rather than having to be ground up. They have a mild flavor, making them a very easy additive to just about any kind of smoothie.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years as a spice and “herbal medicine” to treat upset stomachs and improve digestion. Some research suggests that ginger root may also fight inflammation to a certain degree, and some believe ginger may help with alleviating arthritis or ulcerative colitis conditions. Ginger has a very pungent taste that works well with smoothies containing pineapple, lemon, or other citrus fruit.
All nuts are packed with essential omega-3 fats, protein, and vitamins. Still, some nuts have more health benefits than others. Almonds are one of the best choices because they are relatively low in calories and have more calcium than any other nut. When eaten in moderation, almonds can be a great source of fiber and vitamin E. When adding them to smoothies, don’t go overboard – about a handful is plenty.
7. Hemp Seed
Hemp seed is an excellent source of essential fatty acids including Omegas 3 and 6. It is also rich in Vitamin E, which supports strong immunity and healthy skin and eyes. People on very low-fat diets could potentially have low levels of Vitamin E, making hemp seed in your smoothie a must!
Commonly known as Peruvian Ginseng, maca has been known to enhance energy, stamina, and perhaps even athletic performance. Additionally, some studies suggest that maca can boost the immune system. Maca has a mild nutty flavor, but it’s actually part of the broccoli, radish, and watercress family. One teaspoon of maca per smoothie is a good starting point, but you may find that you can add as much as two teaspoons without drastically altering the flavor. Maca works particularly well when blended with almonds, honey, or cinnamon.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are great sources of minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and iron. One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds alone contains nearly half of the daily recommended amount of magnesium, which plays a role in protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Pumpkin seeds are a tasty snack alone, but they also make great additives to smoothies. Pumpkin seeds work particularly well with sweeter smoothie ingredients, such as banana, strawberry, and coconut.
10. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E. Studies suggest that Vitamin E in sunflower seeds can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as aid in lowering cholesterol. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of magnesium. According to numerous studies, magnesium is essential in lowering high blood pressure and helps in reducing the risk of a heart attack.