Smoothies are one of the best ways to sneak more nutrition into your day in a simple way and one of the most popular ways to do so. In fact, no matter what type of dietary choices you personally have, chances are you enjoy a smoothie at some point each day.
One reason why smoothies are so popular is that they allow all of us to take whatever we feel our bodies need or want that day, whirl it into a magical creation in the blender, and use that creation that we made to fuel our bodies. That’s pretty fantastic … and incredibly freeing! But with this freedom also comes possibilities, which can be a good thing or a not-so-good thing. In fact, some of the top inflammatory foods are often ones that are added to smoothies. This includes dairy products, processed ingredients, artificial sweeteners, and unhealthy fats.
What we put into our smoothie (and eat the rest of the day) can determine how we feel and if we’re are able to achieve the health goals we’re looking to achieve. So why not make each and every blend count, right? Luckily, it’s easy to make an anti-inflammatory smoothie at home by including more antioxidant-rich foods into our diets. And guess what? Antioxidants reduce inflammation and all antioxidants come from plants!
3 Simple Steps to Make a Healthy Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie:
Below you’ll find three simple ways you can take your smoothies and your health to a whole new level, all by simply adding more antioxidants to your blender. Give these three steps a try, and who knows? You might just find your new favorite blend yet!
One of the best ways to achieve better nutritional health is to include lots of colorful fruits and vegetables into your day. That should be the goal with your smoothies, too.
Did you know that the antioxidants found in different fruits, greens, and veggies are what gives each one of them their unique, different colors? Our eyes are meant to be attracted to these colors so we’ll actually eat these wonderful foods, but it’s easy to go all day and not eat more than two types of produce if we’re not careful. So let your blender help you out and add some colorful types of produce to your smoothie!
How to Add More Color to Your Smoothie:
Try to include three to four different colors in every single smoothie. Berries, greens such as kale and spinach, dark cherries, banana, apple, oranges, mango, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, etc., are all wonderful ideas to start with, but don’t let those limit you. The sky is the limit when it comes to types of produce to try in your smoothie!
Just be sure you include a mix of fruit and veggies (or greens) so you get a nice ratio of both of these important food groups. Pineapple, banana, apple, mango, and blueberries are all great ways to sweeten your smoothies naturally and can help hide the taste of stronger veggies if you’re new to using them.
Check out these 11 Green Monster Smoothies to help you get more accustomed to adding more color to your smoothies. Or, try nutrient-packed green smoothies like this Green Goddess Golden Milk Smoothie, which uses bok choy, mango, and banana with an extra boost from turmeric and ginger root, chia seeds, and black pepper. Don’t skip on the black pepper! Studies have shown that combining turmeric and black pepper boosts the bioavailability of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric that may help fight inflammation. For more options, try this Kale Honeydew Smoothie.
Chia, flax, and hemp are some of nature’s most powerful foods. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, amino acids (that form protein), and they’re potent sources of antioxidants that have been shown to fight disease.
Specifically, flax has been shown to lower the rates of breast cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Chia seeds have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and cancer. Chia seeds are also a great source of calcium that is excellent for bone health. Hemp seeds have been shown to improve skin health, mood health, high blood pressure, arthritis, and more.
These seeds are also wonderful for your skin as they help reduce dry skin thanks to their essential fatty acids, and their high fiber content is a great way to keep your digestive system healthy.
How to Use These Seeds in Your Smoothie:
Sneak 2 tablespoons of one or more of these seeds into your next smoothie to start with. You can increase or decrease this amount depending on your own preferences, or mix and match them however you see fit. They’re a great way to take in a natural source of protein and are also affordable per serving. Plus, they give your smoothie an awesome, thick texture — just be sure to grind them up before you add them to your smoothies. Studies have shown that like flax seeds, chia seeds must be ground up in order for our bodies to benefit from their high omega-3 fatty acid content.
For more specifics on these seeds, check out these helpful posts: Flax Versus Chia: The Ultimate Showdown, Why This Grain-Free, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free Vegan Protein Needs to be Every Fitness Buff’s Friend, and So You Want Omega-3’s? Skip the Salmon and Eat These Healthy Fats Instead.
What about trendy supplements that contain antioxidants? Although they may seem like a great shortcut, supplements simply don’t work in our bodies as well as whole foods do when it comes to antioxidants. In fact, taking supplemental forms of antioxidants (such as synthetic vitamins) is not optimal for our health. We should always aim to get our antioxidants from whole, plant-based foods instead of pills.
What About Superfoods?
As far as whole food superfood products (such as maca powder or goji berries), these are all wonderful for your health (and taste great!), but they don’t have to be included in your smoothies if you don’t want to use them or can’t afford them.
Start with whole fruits, veggies, and leafy greens you find in your supermarket first. Then try to choose organic versus conventional produce for optimal nutrition. These simple steps will do wonders to help you increase your intake of antioxidants without breaking your budget at the same time. Then, later on, feel free to toss in a few goji berries, if you like!
Nutritional boosters are other foods that are rich in antioxidants that go a long way in helping you achieve more nutritional goodness in your smoothie. These are also everyday ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and/or fridge.
Chocolate, herbs, spices, almonds, pecans, and walnuts, for example, are all high in antioxidants and make great smoothie boosters. Beyond fruits and veggies, just adding a tablespoon of these can go a long way towards helping your smoothies taste better and be better for you.
Try mint and basil, raw cacao powder, or cocoa powder, and even spices like cayenne, ginger, turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon. Pecans, almonds, cashews, and walnuts are also high in antioxidants, but remember, a little goes a long way. Just a tablespoon (or two) of nuts, cocoa, and fresh herbs (or 1/2-1 teaspoon of dried herbs and spices) is all you need!
As you can see, the key to making a healthy smoothie is to focus on including plenty of anti-inflammatory, plant-based foods into your blender. This is an easy way to avoid putting less-than-optimal ingredients into your smoothie that don’t keep you satisfied or contribute to your health goals.
Focus on implementing the three tips above to your smoothies instead of detrimental foods such as dairy products or highly processed protein powders. Replace the dairy products with the wonderful array of plant-based milk products, and if you do enjoy protein powders, choose one made from plant-based, whole food ingredients instead of synthetics or additives.
We’ve got you covered! Check out all of our smoothie recipes here for plenty of ideas or read 10 Sensational Smoothies for Summer Sipping, The Ultimate Green Smoothie Cheat Sheet, and Smoothie and Juice Recipes to Help You Get Healthy Quick!
You might also like to read 10 Ingredients That Make a Super Smoothie, An Anti-Inflammatory Checklist That Can Transform Your Life, and The Best Order of Ingredients to Make a Superfood Smoothie for more ways to get the most out of your smoothies.
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Lead image source: Raspberry and Blue Spirulina Smoothie