Chia, flax or turmeric? What superfoods to add to your smoothies and why

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Want to live a healthier life? Smoothies are a great, easy and delicious gateway to better health – this refreshing on-the-go drink is packed with fruits, vegetables and superfoods that provide your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many more benefits.

You can easily get them in cafes, but it’s cheaper to make them yourself at home. It may even be healthier since you have full control over what nutrients you put into your body. Plus, you can get creative with your everyday smoothie combinations!

I try to make smoothies at least 3 times a week – I start with one or two types of frozen fruit like berries, bananas, mangoes, melon, peaches, kiwis, pineapple and/or grapes. I also add a cup of frozen veggies like spinach, bad luck, Salad and sometimes even local staples like alubati and malunggay.

I mix everything with my choice of non-dairy milk (either oat or almond) and sometimes add a scoop of peanut butter, cacao nibs, or honey to sweeten it. Next is my powerhouse of superfood supplements — I usually add a scoop of chia seeds, ground flaxseed, and moringa powder for maximum health benefits (I can barely taste them either). And there you have it! I feel great every time I finish my nutrient-dense, high-fiber smoothie.

If you also wanted to spice up your smoothies and boost your health in the easiest way possible, we are here to help. Here’s a simple guide to some popular superfoods and their respective health benefits!

Just remember that these cannot improve your health and prevent or treat disease on their own, but they can provide significant health support as a complement to a balanced diet and active lifestyle. Don’t forget to consult your doctor or nutritionist before making any major health changes!

Chia later!

They’re popular in diet foods and beverages for many reasons — chia seeds are considered the richest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory nutrients that keep your eyes, heart, brain and bones healthy and also help lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure.

CHIA. Photo by Shutterstock

Chia is also a “complete protein,” meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body. It’s also very high in soluble fiber (good for the gut) and mucilage, which gives chia that distinctly “slimy texture” when soaked in water. This makes delicious chia puddings!

This fiber makes chia a good diet aid for weight loss and diabetes management — it can help lower bad cholesterol and slow digestion, which can prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes and promote longer feelings of satiety.

Chia seeds are also a good source of polyunsaturated fats, protein, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.

Cut the flax loosely

Like its sibling chia, flaxseeds are a good source of polyunsaturated fats, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and are a popular heart-healthy, plant-based source of protein for many vegans, which even helps lower LDL cholesterol. Just make sure you enjoy them ground up rather than whole for easier digestion!

WHOLE FLAX SEEDS. Photo by Shutterstock

According to the British Heart Foundation, these anti-inflammatory flaxseeds are growing in popularity for their potential benefits in reducing cardiovascular disease, reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, their laxative effects that aid in digestion, and even relieving menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis . It can also relieve constipation.

If you want a well-rounded seed with multiple nutrients, go for chia, but if you’re looking for a bigger omega-3 boost and more protein, go for flax. Don’t worry, they won’t add an earthy flavor to your smoothies!

Go green with spirulina

This dark green superfood powder is packed with powerful flavor, antioxidants, and health benefits — it’s high in protein, vitamins, essential amino acids, minerals, and essential fatty acids that aren’t made by the body. It’s basically a powerful herbal immunity booster and heart health warrior!

SPIRULINA. Photo by Shutterstock

The anti-inflammatory blue-green algae spirulina may help optimize cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, improve anemia, and improve muscle strength and endurance. The Natural Library of Medicine Journal said that spirulina supplements have shown “significant reductions” in blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol, which is the good kind, in some patients. Note: It has a strong, grassy flavor!

Rather moringa

Moringa (M.oleifera) is a familiar superfood close to home — it’s also called malunggay in the Philippines! Known as a great source of natural antioxidants, this superfood is used to alleviate malnutrition, meaning it contains everything a body needs to survive and even thrive.

MORINGA. Photo by Shutterstock

This native plant is rich in highly digestible protein, Calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamins, essential amino acids, antioxidants and carotenoids found in many fruits and vegetables. Aside from being anti-inflammatory, moringa may also be cholesterol-lowering, antidiabetic, antibacterial, and antihypertensive.

Also known as “mother’s best friend” in the Philippines, moringa is commonly used in lactation-stimulating pastries, milk, desserts, breads, and foods for nursing mothers looking to increase their milk production. Plus points for its subtle taste!

Time for turmeric

This bright orange powder and sibling of ginger root is traditionally used as a medicinal herb in many parts of Asia for its powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties. It is the curcumin compound found in turmeric root that is effective in reducing inflammation and is key to preventing or even treating certain diseases.

TURMERIC POWDER. Photo by Shutterstock

It is also used to relieve pain (turmeric rubs and ointments are popular) for joint pain, arthritis, or swelling. Not only is it good for the heart, liver, respiratory, digestive, and immune systems, but it’s also good for the brain — it’s said to prevent Alzheimer’s, improve memory, and even help with symptoms of depression.

Tip: It’s also recommended to combine curcumin with piperine, which is a compound in black pepper. Piperine is said to help improve curcumin absorption by up to 2000%, improving the bioavailability of this superfood. Just add a pinch of ground black pepper to a spoonful of turmeric – you won’t even taste it!

berry good for your heart

Last but not least, of course, berries! Berries of all kinds are used as the base for many delicious smoothies, and for good reason — they’re tart, sweet, refreshing, versatile, and packed with tons of health benefits. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and blackberries contain good amounts of potassium, magnesium, vitamins C and K, fiber, and prebiotics for a healthy and happy gut.

MIXED BERRIES. Photo by Shutterstock

These anti-inflammatory fruits may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and obesity because they are rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins, which also help fight free radicals. Consume them in moderation as they also contain sugar.

Of all berries, blueberries have the highest sugar content but are best for immunity because they contain phytonutrients that work with other essential nutrients to promote good health. Blackberries have the highest levels of antioxidants and fiber, while cranberries are used to treat urinary tract infections and have the lowest sugar levels. Black raspberries are also the most nutritious of all and are low in natural sugars. Also, don’t forget acai berries and goji berries!

Berries also pair well with other fruits like banana, mango, apple, peach, and pineapple.

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