Everyone loves a good smoothie, and trying to get your daily recommended amount of vegetables in your diet is sometimes a little hard. Adding vegetables into smoothies is an excellent way to increase your vegetable consumption. Enjoying a smoothie as a healthy snack is great, but by adding in a few extra vegetables can turn your smoothie into a nutritional powerhouse!
Consuming more vegetables helps lower your risk of heart disease, lowers your blood pressure, reduces risk of stroke, helps fight some forms of cancer and helps prevent eye disease and intestinal disorders. Experimenting with a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables in your smoothies every day will ensure you get a broad range of vitamins and minerals.
Here is a list of vegetable suggestions you may try in your smoothie to add incredible flavour and bonus nutrients, too!
1. Spinach: phytonutrients in spinach pack an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer punch. Spinach also provides over 200% of your RDA of vitamin K which is essential for bone health, and can help lower blood pressure by inhibiting an enzyme called angiotensin I-converting enzyme. Add 1 cup of spinach to your smoothies, and then work your way up from there! Spinach is a very bland green when added to smoothies, so you can barely taste it and still reap amazing benefits!
2. Ginger: ginger is aromatic, spicy and pungent. Ginger is very effective in relieving symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and has the ability to inhibit formation of inflammatory compounds (very strong anti-inflammatory properties). If you suffer from arthritis related problems, adding ginger to your smoothies will help alleviate some of the pain. The main active component in ginger called gingerols, has also been shown to inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells! You may add as little or as much ginger to your smoothies as you please, and can either press it through a garlic press before adding, or finely dice it, or shred it into your smoothie before blending.
4. Carrots: carrots seem like an odd thing to add to smoothies, but it is definitely do-able and they add a nice sweet touch. They can be shredded very finely into your smoothie before blending (a high-speed blender such as a vitamix would work best here). The carotenoids in carrots are excellent for eye health and have anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits. Women who ate carrots at least twice per week had significantly lower levels of glaucoma than women who consumed carrots less than once per week. The polyacetylenes in carrots also inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells!
5. Fennel: fennel tastes a little bit like liquorice, and adds very interesting and fun flavour to smoothies. It is packed with anti-oxidants and contains a special phytonutrient called anethole which has been repeatedly shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent the occurrence of cancer. Fennel bulb is also an excellent source of vitamin C which helps boost our immune systems and wards off any harmful bacteria and viruses. Add in about half a cup of finely shredded fennel to your smoothies. A great combination is fennel, pear, kale, cinnamon and coconut water!
6. Sea Vegetables (dulse, kelp, wakame etc.): Sea vegetables have many different anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-coagulant, anti-thrombotic, and anti-viral properties. These properties are mainly attributed to compounds called sulfated polysaccharides found mainly in sea vegetables. They also have an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals not normally found in everyday vegetables. These include calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vanadium, and zinc. Adding in a couple shreds of sea vegetables to your smoothies is an excellent way to reap these benefits!
7. Kale: kale is one of the most nutrient dense green leafy vegetables out there! They are incredibly high in iron, vitamin C, protein, omega-3's, vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins. The broad spectrum of flavonoid anti-oxidants in kale is the key to kale's strong anti-cancer benefits and other health issues stemming from oxidative stress (which a lot of today's disease and illness comes from). The vitamin K content in kale is great for alleviating chronic inflammation and also provides cardiovascular support via its cholesterol-lowering abilities. Add in 1 cup of kale to your smoothies, increasing this amount over time!
8. Cucumber: cucumbers are a great addition to smoothies. You may add a whole cucumber to your smoothies if you please, combining it with ingredients such as bananas and coconut and a little bit of carob. Cucumbers are incredibly hydrating and the cucumber skins are rich in silica and vitamin E (excellent for skin health!). They contain vitamin C for immune support as well as manganese and beta-carotene. Researchers have found that several different signalling pathways needed for cancer cell growth are actually inhibited by the activity of cucurbitacins (compounds found in cucumbers).
9. Zucchini: zucchini is high in manganese, antioxidants, vitamins C and A and is very high in fibre (especially if you leave the skin on). Zucchini is also an excellent source of B vitamins which help metabolize sugars in the body. Adding half a zucchini to your smoothies will give it an excellent nutrient boost without change in flavour of the smoothie (zucchinis are very bland!).
10. Mushrooms (medicinal specifically like reishi, chaga or shiitake): medicinal mushrooms are an amazing addition to any smoothie. They are one of the few foods out there that contain vitamin D, and their anti-oxidant capacity helps boost the immune system, protect the heart, reduce risk of developing certain cancers and help awaken your pineal gland. You can get these mushrooms fresh, or in powder form. Adding in a couple mushrooms to your smoothies (or a couple teaspoons) will ensure your body reaps these incredible benefits!
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