Whether or not you’ve heard of superfoods, you’ve probably eaten them without even realizing it. Defined as a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being, superfoods are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols and can be easily added to everyday meals — like smoothies — to make them feel extra delicious and nutritious. While, technically, there’s no medical definition for what is a “superfood”, you can’t help but take note of how powerful these particular foods can be.
Let’s get one thing straight — superfoods are in no way a new food. In fact, most of them have been around for thousands of years, being utilized by ancient civilizations that existed far before we did. But ever since I learned about how incredible the benefits can be, I’ve been adding these guys to my smoothies as if it was my job! Keep scrolling for some of my favorite and most-beneficial smoothie additives.
Cacao is awesome because not only does it taste like a huge dose of chocolate, but it’s so insanely healthy. Chock full of antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, and iron — all at extremely high levels—cacao has been proven to improve heart health and lower blood pressure. Plus, would you believe it has more calcium than cow’s milk or that it is the highest plant-based source of iron? Well, you better! The chocolate taste mixes great with berries, greens, and bananas, you know, just to give you an idea of how to incorporate it into your diet. For all you chocolate lovers out there, this superfood will be your new BFF!
I have a love-hate relationship with chia seeds. As much as I hate it when they get stuck in my teeth, I absolutely LOVE their health benefits. For those who might not be aware, they’re an amazing source of omega 3s and fatty acids, and they are also rich in iron, protein, fiber, and more. The best part is that you only need to add a small amount to your smoothies. Try adding a teaspoon in order to get a serious dose of health.
In various studies, chia seeds have been proven to improve dental health, help treat diabetes, and prolong the aging process of your skin. Adding these seeds will typically thicken your smoothie, so start small and build your way up, or make it thick to make a chia pudding. Either way, your body will thank you.
Maca has a number of benefits and is already loved by many, namely because of its energy-increasing properties. Most people have begun adding maca to smoothies as a way to increase their energy, without the jitters that coffee tends to give. Studies have proven that maca also helps to improve memory and focus and that it comes with a huge dose of antioxidants. I personally like it because the energy it delivers is associated with helping those with anemia (aka me, and if it’s you — hey hey!). In an added bonus, it’s relatively tasteless, so you can add it to whatever smoothie combo you desire.
Goji berries not only make a great acai topping, but they’re delectable in smoothies. Packed with more than 20 different vitamins and minerals, goji berries have been known to boost the immune system, increase brain activity, lengthen life expectancy, and even possibly help fight cancer. The berries have been used for centuries by various Asian cultures, proving they’re a well-known and sought-after source of nutrients. To top it off, they make a great sweetener for your smoothie, too!
While spirulina is an acquired taste, it’s one of the best things you can possibly add to your meals. Spirulina is made of algae and contains a ton of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and is an overall great way to add more greens to your day. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, spirulina has become a staple in my skincare routine to keep flare-ups and redness to a minimum, but other people love it because it’s shown to reduce the chance of stroke, lower cholesterol, and boost energy.
It’s recommended that you start by incorporating small amounts into your green smoothie and building up to add more as the taste becomes more acquired. I recommend a green smoothie with pineapple or mango to really sweeten the deal.
Coconut oil is a great smoothie additive that gives it a thicker, creamier texture that is to DIE for if you ask me. But on top of that, coconut oil is helpful in so many ways. It’s been proven to help with memory loss, so much so that it helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it helps build and maintain muscle — which is great if you’re looking to tone your body. And, to top it off, it also kills microorganisms that can make us sick —what can’t this oil do?
If you’re a 20-something with a joint of an 80-year-old like myself, let me introduce you to your holy grail: collagen. What makes collagen a great smoothie additive is how seamlessly it blends into whatever you put it in. It’s relatively tasteless, so you’ll never know it’s there, but the benefits you’re bound to get might just blow its cover. On the most basic level, collagen is great for skin and hair. Collagen boosts hair growth and helps keep skin soft, supple, plump, and bouncy which is great if you’re concerned about aging. Additionally, collagen is great for aches and pains within the joint. Almost acting as a lubricant, collagen lines our joints with a smooth, gel-like consistency, creating increased mobility and decreased pain.
Bone broth gives an added dose of collagen, glycine, and glutamine, all of which can help your body function on a higher level. You can expect the beautifying effects of collagen to come through, along with an added push of energy from the glycine and muscle repair benefits of glutamine! Bone broth is doing the most—to say the least—so try incorporating it into your diet on a more regular basis. It’s even been noted to help with sleep, anxiety, and speeding up your metabolism.
Feature image via Melissa Gamache; Graphics via Madison Terry