Smoothies are a healthy way to start the day, enjoy as a snack and as a way to sneak in some nutrition when you have little time to sit down to a meal. If you're bored of your usual fruit-and-milk smoothie combination, try mixing it up by adding in different ingredients to boost nutrition and flavor. Choose smoothie additives that are source of essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, healthy fats and protein for a healthy body and mind.
Add leafy green vegetables to your smoothies for a nutritious, delicious boost. Leafy greens are a source of essential vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C and E, which help repair body tissues, protect the skin against damaging sun-rays and reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration respectively. Throw a handful of spinach, kale, collard greens or Swiss chard into your smoothie and up your intake to one to two cups or as your taste buds prefer.
Healthy fats are needed in the body for normal body processes such as hormonal regulation and brain health, and healthy skin, hair and nails. Healthy fats also increase appetite satiety, filling you up and preventing you from over-eating and subsequent weight gain. Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds are all sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Other smoothie additives that add healthy fats include nut butters, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds. Stick to serving sizes around 1 to 2 tablespoons for moderate caloric and fat intakes.
Fiber, the indigestible part of plants, helps move food waste through the body for elimination. It also bulks up your smoothie, increasing satiety and preventing you for looking for more food shortly after drinking. Fiber-rich additives include leafy greens, flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts and seeds. Vegetables such as celery and carrots, and fruits such as apples and pears are sources of fiber as well as nutrients such as vitamins A and C. You can also add a fiber-rich supplement powder such as psyllium husk to improve digestion.
The Power of Protein
Protein is essential for muscle growth, repair and recovery from daily activities and exercise. Add protein to your smoothies to keep blood sugar levels stable, preventing fluctuations that lead to hunger cravings shortly after eating. Add a serving of protein powder to your post-workout smoothie to help repair and build tired muscles. Animal based protein powders include whey and egg; plant-based powders suitable for vegetarians or vegans include brown rice, hemp and soy powders. You can also add low-fat Greek yogurt instead of protein powder for a hefty dose of calcium as well as whey and casein proteins.