Smoothies can be a great way to pack in some serious nutrition with minimal effort and maximum deliciousness. If you’re looking for a simple way to get your recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies, or have a specific healthy-eating goal this year, smoothies make it easy to boost your intake of antioxidants and other key nutrients for good health. That said, many fast-food and store-bought smoothies are sugar-heavy and lack the nutrients you’d expect to see in something marketed as good for you.
Whether you’re looking to revamp your smoothie style or are making smoothies for the first time, here are some top tips for a great-tasting antioxidant smoothie.
Clever Combinations for Smoothies You’ll Love
The key to a good smoothie is mastering the clever combination of healthy liquids, special supplements, and those all-important fruits and veggies. If you’re completely new to smoothie-making, this can be a bit daunting. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!
Some excellent liquid options for smoothies include unsweetened almond, rice, hemp, or soy milk, cold herbal teas, or plain water. These all have different thicknesses and varied nutrient and calorie profiles, so your choice will depend on how thick and creamy you like your smoothie, as well as your nutrient needs.
Herbal teas such as ginger and lemon, green, white, or cinnamon spice can help support good digestion, antioxidant status, and general health without adding any extra calories or sugar. They also make for a thinner smoothie that can be easier to drink if you have difficulty swallowing thicker liquids.
Fortified non-dairy milks can add protein as well as calcium, iron, and vitamins B12 and D. Check the labels to see if your chosen liquid contributes to your daily need for these nutrients.
If you have a specific health goal in mind, such as supporting muscle growth, blood glucose regulation, skin health, eyesight, or joint health, you might want to add special supplements to your smoothie. These might include green food powders, protein, essential fatty acids, or single supplements like curcumin, lutein, blueberry, cinnamon, or spirulina.
Fruits and veggies
A great way to pack in nutrients is to make a daily smoothie with high ORAC-value foods. What’s an ORAC value? To help you in your quest for nutritious foods, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) devised a unit of measurement called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). The ORAC value of foods tells you how helpful they can be in protecting against free radicals and oxidative damage. This kind of damage to cells is thought to contribute in large part to a variety of age-related diseases and conditions.
ORAC values are given in micromole Trolox Equivalent per 100 g (μ mol TE/100 g). This means they are based on each food’s ORAC content in 100 g of the food compared to a known antioxidant, Trolox (a vitamin E derivative with potent antioxidant properties). The higher the food’s ORAC value, the more antioxidants it contains.
Wondering where to start? Check out these high-ORAC fruits and veggies, as well as some other foods that pack an antioxidant punch:
|Black raspberries, raw||19,220|
|Ginger root, raw||14,840|
|Black chia seeds, raw||9,800|
|Wild blueberries, raw||9,621|
|Red delicious apples with skin, raw||4,275|
|Goji berry (wolfberries), raw||3,290|
|Black cherry juice||2,370|
|Lacinato kale (dinosaur, Tuscan, black kale), cooked||1,773|
|Green kale, raw||1,770|
|Green tea, brewed||1,253|
As a guide, 1 cup of pecan halves weighs about 100 g, giving you the full 17,940 ORAC value. In comparison, 100 g of chopped kale would be about 1.5 cups.
Feeling a little more adventurous and want to take your smoothie game to the next level? Here are 10 of the best antioxidant smoothie ingredients you’re unlikely to see in a lacklustre store-bought drink:
|Indian gooseberry (Amla berries), dried||261,500|
|Peppermint leaves, dried||160,820|
|Baobab fruit powder, dried||140,000|
|Cinnamon spice, ground||131,420|
|Turmeric spice, ground||127,068|
|Vanilla bean spice, dried||122,400|
|Acai berry pulp/skin/puree powder||102,700|
|Nutmeg spice, ground||69,640|
|Cocoa powder, unsweetened||55,653|
|Ginger spice, ground||39,041|
As this table shows, many of the best sources of antioxidants are herbs and spices. While you can’t use spices alone to make a great-tasting smoothie, it’s definitely worth including some in your smoothie concoctions. Many more-common household herbs and spices, including oregano, cloves, and thyme, are also rich in antioxidants.
Because we use herbs and spices in much smaller quantities, you might want to do a little math to figure out the actual antioxidant boost you’ll get with each ingredient. Spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and nutmeg tend to weigh around 1.5–3 g per teaspoon. So, to calculate the actual ORAC value of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, you would divide 131,420 by 100 to get the value per gram, then multiply the result by 2.3 (the weight of a teaspoon of cinnamon). This gives you an ORAC value of 3,023, making it a little lower than the equivalent of a cup of sliced apple.
If you’re wondering how to combine these ingredients to make a smoothie that tastes good, take a look at the following recipes.
Fun, Seasonal, Smoothie Recipes
Try the following combinations for a delicious and nutritious smoothie, whatever the season:
1. Crisp summer smoothie – Apple, ground cinnamon, raw ginger, and green tea
2. Candy cane smoothie – cocoa powder, peppermint leaves, kale (stems removed), and almond milk
3. Winter warmer – raw ginger, ground turmeric, and black cherry juice
4. Pecan pie smoothie – ground nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, raw ginger, pecans, and apple juice
Once you’ve chosen your flavour combinations, add your ingredients to a high-powered blender (recommended if using nuts and seeds) and blend until smooth. For a refreshing smoothie, add ice and blend again before serving. If the smoothie is too thick, add some water or extra non-dairy milk or juice.
To help balance nutrient intake and slow down the digestion of the natural sugars in fruits and fruit juices (so you don’t get a sudden spike in blood sugar), add a scoop of plant-based protein powder. You’ll need a little extra liquid along with the protein so the smoothie isn’t too thick.
Plant-Based Foods and Antioxidants
One benefit of including more plant foods in your diet is that these foods contain many more antioxidants than animal-derived foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, pulses, spices, herbs, and grains contain a wide variety of compounds that help protect the plants from pests and other sources of damage. In many cases, these same compounds, which include phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, can also benefit human health.
To learn more about the benefits of specific antioxidants, click on the following list of antioxidant nutrient supplements from Webber Naturals: