Health-buffs swear by them for loading up on vitamins and minerals, but if you’re not sure what to put in your smoothies try these 7 super ingredients recommended by nutritionist Ricky Hay of leading ethical brand Fushi
Coconut water is low-calorie and has minimal sugar content, which means it’s a healthier addition than many fruit juices. It’s also reputedly better at replacing lost fluids than sports drinks or water, and the subtle taste means it won’t overpower other ingredients, either.
A source of: Vitamins C and B â€“ plus, it provides protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Ricky says: “It’s wonderful for hydration pre- and post-exercise, making it a great replacement for sugary energy drinks.”
2. Acai powder
Acai berries derive from a rich purple palm fruit indigenous to the Amazon rainforest, and are a staple for those native to the region. The powdered supplement is thought to be beneficial in promoting heart health and fat loss, and in its native Brazil is referred to the “Beauty Berry”.
A source of: Vitamins B, C and E (phytonutrients), plus iron, amino acids, fibre and protein.
Ricky says: “This super food, native to South America, is an antioxidant powerhouse â€“ it helps the body to build its defence system, and it also aids weight management.”
3. Goji berries
Goji berries (also known as wolfberries) are orange-red berries grown in China. They can be consumed raw, cooked or dried, or in liquid form – and supermodel Miranda Kerr swears by them.
A source of: 18 amino acids and anti-ageing antioxidants
Ricky says: “Known as one of the planet’s greatest super foods, goji berries are renowned for their strength and immune-boosting properties. They also help with skin, hair and nail health.”
Spirulina is derived from algae found in warm, fresh water bodies, and was particularly popular amongst the Aztecs back in the 16th century. Its health-boosting qualities have earned it super status amongst health buffs – it’s said to improve the immune system and digestion, reduce inflammation, control appetite, act as a detoxifier, and it also benefits allergy sufferers.
A source of: Multi-vitamins. Plus, it’s a source of protein that’s considered superior to that of most other plants.
Ricky says: “Spirulina is a fantastic natural multi-vitamin that’s also perfect for vegetarians thanks to it’s high-protein content. If you’re detoxing, this is the perfect ingredient, as it alkalizes the body and provides a real energy boost.”
5. Raw cacao powder
Also known as raw chocolate, this powder makes for a perfect smoothie sweetener – it blends brilliantly and is loaded with nutrients.
A source of: Magnesium, amino acids, beta-carotene, zinc and iron. It also contains a mild (non-addictive) stimulant that has been linked to alleviating symptoms of depression.
Ricky says: “Raw Cacao powder is one of nature’s strongest antioxidants. When taken, it helps to provide mental clarity and calm the nervous system.”
6. Maca powder
Maca powder, derived from a Peruvian root vegetable, is great for counter-balancing the bitterness that certain greens can bring to a smoothie, and is particularly delicious when combined with raw cacao powder.
A source of: Magnesium, vitamins B and C and antioxidants.
Ricky says: “This is a real energy booster and also helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system.”
7. Chia seeds
Derived from a plant that’s actually a member of the mint family, chia seeds work equally well in a smoothie or sprinkled on your cereal in the morning – they expand in water, so they add bulk.
A source of: Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. One teaspoon contains approximately 5g of fibre, and it’s also rich in protein.
Ricky says: “This ancient Central and South American super-food is rich in protein, and helps aid digestion. Plus, chia seeds will help you fight your cravings, so there’s no reaching for a mid-afternoon snack.”