Maybe you are in the rhythm of your morning smoothie. You enjoy the ease of this quick breakfast drink that gives you the energy to get through your morning. Well, now its time to shake it up a bit and get a little bit creative to supercharge your smoothie.
Sounds easy huh…but walking down the aisle of your local health food store can bombard you with the latest and greatest “super-food” that will claim to fix just about anything. How do you sort fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition?
Let’s just start with the label of ‘super-food’. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s almost an accepted word in the nutritional dictionary. I am not a fan of the term ‘defences’ because it implies that the product can perform miracles. It gives false hope, with very little evidence to back up the claim. On the flip side of this, as these products are in concentrated powder form, some may be therapeutically active. Because of this, these foods should not be used in large volumes indiscriminately…I am talking to you Maca powder (more on this below…)
If you have a particular health concern, then do your research or, even better talk with a nutritional health professional. This way you won’t waste your time or money on something that is not right for you.
How to supercharge your smoothie – 7 ways
Clearly not one for the vegan’s, bee pollen is known to be rich in many nutrients. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties(¹). To get the most from your bee pollen it needs to be ground to release its nutrients. You will absorb 60-80% more nutrients from the bee pollen if it is ground-up before consuming.
Lacuma (Pouteria lucuma)
Native to South America, this sub-tropical fruit has many traditional and cultural ties to the region. Lacuma is a favourite of mine as it adds a delicious hint of caramel and sweetness to your smoothie. Researchers have discovered that it can promote wound healing and tissue regeneration, giving it the potential to be a skin enhancer. Lacuma contains over 14 trace minerals in addition to magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Naturally rich in dietary fiber, Lacuma is ideal to regulate the bowels.
Mesquite is a traditional Native American food. This flour is made from the ground seed pods from the mesquite tree. Mesquite is more of a legume than fruit. Mesquite is high in fibre and low GI which makes it slow digesting and provides sustainable energy (²). Its nutrient profile shows that it is also high in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and lysine.
Gubinge (Terminalia ferninandiana)
Gubinge is native to Australia and has been used by the Aborigines for centuries. This fruit and seed are one of the highest natural source of vitamin C on the planet. The benefit of vitamin C is that it supports the immune system, support iron absorption and collagen production for healthy skin. In addition to vitamin C, Gubinge is high in antioxidants that mop up free radicals to prevent oxidative damage to our cells.³
Camu Camu (Mycaria Dubia)
Found to Peru, the rainforest natives used this fruit as a drink. Camu Camu is high in phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, B1, B2 and B3. Despite being low in vitamin C compared to other fruits, it is the combination of its bioflavonoids and phytochemicals that give this fruit its nutritional value. Traditionally it has been used to promote healthy teeth, gums, eyes and skin. Native healers also use it to support the immune system, especially to treat viral infections.
Collagen is the main structural protein found in connective tissue and skin and accounts for 30% of the protein mass in our bodies. The benefit of collagen peptides is that it is high in protein, collagen and is easily digestible. Collagen peptides are absorbed in the gut and then delivered to skin and joints through the blood stream.(4)
I recommend using collagen peptides instead of protein powder as you get the added nutrition from the collagen while still getting your protein requirements. For those who are avoiding dairy, collagen peptides are the protein boost that you need in your protein shake and will be easier to digest than plant-based protein powders.
The great thing about collagen peptides is that it is tasteless and dissolves instantly into any hot or cold liquid. What is essential is that you buy it from a quality source. I use and recommend Vital Proteins (blue lid).
Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Another gem from South America, this ground root is loaded with minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all of the essential amino acid (making it a complete protein).
Maca is known to have a hormone modulating effect and may stimulate hormone production via the hypothalamus and pituitary glands (6). For this reason, I don’t advise using this product indiscriminately. If you are on any hormone treatment (thyroid, adrenal, prostate, reproductive, etc.), maca may be of great benefit but it needs to be prescribed by a herbalist.
If you are pregnant, lactating, please consult with a health professional before using this product. I don’t advise using it for children or teenagers.
In herbal medicine, Maca is classed as an adaptogen, meaning that it has a balancing and energizing effect on the body. It helps to support metabolism, mental health, cognition, sexual function and the overall feeling of wellbeing.
Maca can be a little hard to digest, so start on a smaller dose of 1/2 teaspoon and work your way up to 2 teaspoons.
Don’t forget the basics.
Whilst these nutritional powders can very beneficial, we can’t forget the great food that we can find in the supermarket.
What I encourage is to make your smoothie/juice, food based rather than filled with super-food powders. The nutritional content of colour rich fruits and vegetables will give you a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Don’t forget to add some protein and fat to make your smoothie or juice a nutritionally complete meal with all the macro-nutrients. See the link below to an earlier post on this topic.
Here is a previous post on the basics of how to formulate the perfect smoothie (green or not).