The 'superfood' craze started a few years back, and while it may seem like a fad, they're called 'superfoods' for a reason. Superfoods generally refer to ingredients that are packed with nutrients and boost your body's immune system as well as your general physical and mental health. Many superfoods aren't considered the tastiest ingredients, but even picky eaters can get a healthy dose of superfoods by blending them into smoothies. Here are some of the best superfoods to blend into your next fruit or vegetable smoothie:
- Acai Berries
Acai bowls are the latest food fad, but you can also purchase raw acai berries to mix into smoothies. Acai berries are loaded with both Vitamin C and tons of antioxidants, both of which boost your immune system health, so mix acai into your smoothies if you find yourself frequently getting sick. You may need to purchase the berries frozen, since acai doesn't ship well, but unsweetened acai puree is also available in some stores or online.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a natural probiotic, and it can be added to any juice blend without drastically altering the taste. Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful to combat swelling throughout the body, and it's also known to help balance the pH in your stomach, which can provide relief for people who suffer from acid reflux symptoms.
Avocados are an extremely versatile superfood with a wide variety of health benefits. Avocados contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health, and are also high in oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat. Besides, the thick consistency and unique flavor of avocados make them a delicious addition to any fruit or vegetable smoothie.
- Cacao Nibs
Known popularly as the base ingredient for chocolate, raw cacao nibs are actually full of immune-boosting antioxidants. They also contain monounsaturated fats and a healthy dose of protein, and anyway, who doesn't want to add a bit of chocolatey flavor to their smoothies? They go particularly well with smoothies containing bananas, berries or nuts, and you can either grind whole nibs at home with a coffee grinder or purchase pre-ground cacao powder.
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are one of the most popular superfoods due to their pleasant nutty flavor. Like many other nuts in seeds, they are very high in protein, fiber and Omega-3s, and as an added bonus, they are one of the cheapest superfoods and can be bought in bulk. A taste tip: chia seeds go particularly well with thick green smoothies.
- Goji Berries
Arguably the most popular antioxidant berries after acai, goji berries are packed with vitamins A and C as well as a variety of antioxidants. In addition, they contain carotenoids, which are colored pigments that many researchers believe may be effective in preventing cancer. When blending goji berries into smoothies, keep in mind that the berries are very tough, so soaking them in water ahead of time is advisable. Flavor-wise, they are a bit bitter, but work wonderfully to balance out sweeter ingredients like coconut and mango, and also pair well with kale-based green smoothies.
If you're looking to get your brain in gear, try adding walnuts to your next smoothie. Walnuts are filled with Omega-3s that help protect the fatty portions of your brain and reduce brain inflammation, and they have also been proven to reduce anxiety in some people. Walnuts are also considered to be a possible preventative food to fight the onset of Alzheimer's due to their numerous brain-protecting properties.
- Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a great way to add some protein to your smoothies, and like many other nuts and seeds, they also contain Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as Omega-6s. Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty taste that allows you to blend them into nearly any smoothie without altering the taste, and you can purchase them either whole or in the form of shelled 'hemp hearts' that can be tossed directly into your blender.