Superfoods often get a bad rap as over-priced, with snake-oil-level-claims and minimal real nutrient value in the grand scheme of things. And it's true-- not every 'superfood' or superfood claim is legitimate, especially if all you're trying to do is add one of these so-called wonder foods into your already poor diet and expecting dramatic results. Superfoods only work when added in the context of a generally healthy diet. And the best way to start improving your diet? One simple step at a time-- my favorite being adding one super smoothie daily. A 5-minute switch that changes an entire third of your nutrition for the day. How is that for super? But true superfoods, in my mind, are foods that are super-packed with nutrition. This can be everyday superfoods like blueberries, kale and chia seeds- or more exotic ones like mushroom extracts and adaptogens. Some are more expensive than others, and some will work for you- some won't. That's why experimentation is key when adding superfoods to your smoothie. Start with one at a time, see how you feel, and utilize them as needed. More superfoods aren't always better, but they CAN be a useful tool to help balance hormones, keep your blood sugar stable, promote increased energy, reduce stress and more. Here are some of my favorite superfoods to add to your super smoothie.
Superfood seeds: Seeds can be a fantastic way to add a dose of healthy fats (omega 3, 6 and 9) as well as micronutrients to your diet. Just think: just ONE of those teeny seeds will grow into a WHOLE plant one day! Start with 1-3 tsp in your smoothie. Some of my favorite include hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, or pumpkin seeds.
Raw Cacao: This is my all-time favorite! Cacao is raw, unprocessed cocoa powder, and it's packed with antioxidants and minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium. And it tastes like dark chocolate! I get mine from Thrive Market.
Mushroom Blends: Got 'shrooms? We're not talking about the magic kind- though they can feel like it! Mushroom blends have fantastic health benefits, including immune boosting and adaptogenic qualities. Some of my favorites include:
Lion's Mane: Great for brain health- focus and attention especially. Cordyceps: Cordyceps is a great natural energy booster, without the caffeine crash. I like taking this before a long run. Chaga: Chaga is the king of mushrooms! It is fantastic for immune support and packed with antioxidants. Reishi: Taking reishi is kind of like taking a literal chill pill. It helps to relax and reduce stress, and helps with sleep. Turkey Tail: Turkey tail has been proven beneficial to staving off infections. According to a study of 61 patients with gum disease testing positive for oral HPV, 88 percent of the 41 patients who received both turkey tail and reishi mushrooms showed positive results after only two months of treatment. (source) Crazy, right? It's also packed with prebiotics that aid in digestion.
My favorite brand by far is Four Sigmatic. They have great single-mushroom elixirs as well as blends (they even have coffee and hot chocolate blends, which are fantastic!)
Adaptogens: Though mushrooms can also have adaptogenic qualities, these are specific foods (or food extracts/powders) that are extremely beneficial for- you've got it- helping the body to adapt; specifically to stressors in our environment and bodies. They can help with energy, stress, blood sugar balance, hormone regulating and more. A few of my favorites include:
Maca: This is one of my favorites for hormone balancing. It has been used for thousands of years for libido, fertility (it can balance estrogen levels) and energy boosting and has been shown to balance moods. Ashwaganda: Ashwaganda is fantastic for regulating cortisol, your body's main stress hormone, so it's great if you're under a time of stress or you have adrenal issues. Rhodiola: Fantastic for stress-reduction and energy (though I recommend taking it in the morning as it can be stimulating at night!). Astralagus: Astralagus has been shown to have powerful immune-boosting (especially antiviral and antibacterial) properties. It's a great addition if you are sick or feeling an illness coming on.
This is a great article (from a doctor) on how to choose the right adaptogen for you.
Spices: Head to your spice cabinet for some simple superfood action. Cinnamon is fantastic at balancing blood sugar, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, ginger helps with tummy troubles and cayenne pepper is great for heart health! Add a dash (or more) of herbs to boost flavor and nutrition in your smoothies.
Greens Powders: One step beyond adding a hefty handful of spinach to your smoothie is adding a greens blend or powder. Add in a mix of greens for a boost of vitamins and minerals, or an algae like spirulina or chlorella. Spirulina and Chlorella are green algaes that are rich in chlorophyll, the plant pigment responsible for turning plants green. They are incredibly high in micronutrients- specifically minerals like iron, copper and magnesium. They have even been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They are also beneficial in supporting the liver in detoxing the body of heavy metals. I like the Thrive Market greens blend, and regularly add spirulina for a mineral boost.
Feeling overwhelmed? There's a lot to think about! You absolutely do NOT need to add superfoods to yoru super smoothie to get the HUGE health benefits of adding a green smoothie daily. Start with your basic smoothie first, and then think about adding a superfood or two to boost it, later on. Click below for your FREE Super Smoothie Superfoods PDF printable, and to join our Annual Healthy Mama Smoothie Challenge (starting July 1st). You'll get the full Super Smoothie formula and tons more great info on how to improve your health with this simple 5-minute switch (and win PRIZES, mama!)
Do you have a favorite superfood to add to your smoothie? Share with us in the Healthy Mama Facebook group!
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