Best Superfoods to Add to Smoothies
A daily smoothie is a great way to enjoy more fruits and vegetables, stay hydrated and include some powerful superfoods into your diet. These 15 best superfoods to add to smoothies are so potent that that you only need a small amount, making them easy to add into your favourite smoothie combos.
We actually eat a lot of “superfoods” on a daily basis without even realizing it. Everyday foods like like avocado, pumpkin, coconut, cinnamon, blueberries, spinach, kale and other vegetables are all wonderful and nutritious smoothie ingredients. Start with those and if you have the means to start adding some of these extra superfoods, go for it!
These powerful superfoods offer a wide range of health benefits from reducing inflammation, to preventing chronic disease and improving mood and sleep. If you eat a plant-based diet and/or are an athlete, these superfoods can be particularly helpful in covering all your nutritional bases and improving recovery from exercises-related stress.
Where to Start with Superfoods
This is a big list. You’re probably not going to be using all of these superfoods, all the time. For one that would be very expensive. For two, as I mentioned above, there are plenty of affordable, everyday superfoods you should be eating regularly anyways. Start with those. Next, you can have some fun and reap the health benefits of adding these super super foods to your diet.
So, which superfoods should you start with? Ask yourself..
- What are your health and fitness goals?
- Are there any holes in nutrition you could use help with?
- Do you have dietary restrictions that make it difficult to get all the nutrients you need?
- Do you have any health concerns?
- Are you an athlete?
- Could you use a boost in energy levels?
- What is your food budget like?
Take a look at your diet and see where you could use some help. Because I eat a plant-based diet and I’m highly active, I like to focus on on protein, omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants and superfoods with anti-inflammatory properties, so some of my favourites are hemp seeds, chia seeds, cacao and spirulina.
I also don’t have an unlimited budget to spend on superfoods and since turmeric, ginger and leafy greens are all readily available and affordable, I use those a lot too.
Superfoods for Smoothies
1. Hemp seeds
Best Benefits: complete source of protein, omega-3, vitamin E, energy
Hemp seeds are a true superfood in every sense of the word. High in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, calcium and iron, they’re one of the most nutritious seeds available. Eating hemp seeds on a regular basis can prevent arterial plaque buildup, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, provide energy and support the immune and circulatory systems.
They are also anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants so can help improve recovery times from disease, injury and exercise. A complete source of protein, they’re also an excellent food for vegans and vegetarians.
Hemp seeds are readily available and moderately priced. They have a nutty and earthy but mild flavour flavour and can be blended into smoothies, used to create hemp milk for smoothies or used as a topping for smoothie bowls.
Try hemp seeds in my Mint Matcha Chip Smoothie Bowl.
2. Chia Seeds
Best Benefits: protein, omega-3, fibre, magnesium
Chia seeds are anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, a good source of protein and fibre and are high in phytonutrients, electrolytes and mineral. Just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contain 18% of your daily calcium and 30% of your daily magnesium. Chia seeds also contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, which many people are deficient in.
Chia seeds are readily available in-stores or online and moderately priced. I always have chia seeds in my kitchen and I find their versatility and health benefits to be worth the investment.
Chia seeds can be blended into any smoothie or sprinkled on top. You can also soak them in a bit of water before adding to the smoothie to create a hydrating and energizing gel that will blend in completely.
Best Benefits: magnesium, antioxidants
Cacao can typically be found in stores as either cacao powder, cacao butter or cacao nibs. I like stocking cacao powder and cacao nibs in my kitchen for using in smoothies and other raw food recipes. Cacao is chocolate in it’s purest form. It’s thought to be the highest source of antioxidants of any food and it’s also high in magnesium, an important mineral many people fall short on.
Cacao tastes bitter but rich and decadent. I absolutely love cacao nibs and use them as a topping on almonds every smoothie I make. Cacao nibs are simply cacao beans chopped up into pieces, similar to a chocolate chip except they don’t have any added fats or sugar. They do however, still contain all the nutrition you’d find in the cacao bean and they’re crunchy texture and deep chocolate flavour make them an awesome smoothie addition.
Cacao in all it’s forms is an excellent source of fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre, natural carbohydrates, and protein that make it an excellent and energizing smoothie superfood! If you love chocolate, cacao is a must-have for your kitchen!
Try cacao in my Chocolate Zucchini Smoothie Bowl or my Chocolate Almond Avocado Smoothie and stock up on raw cacao nibs for the ultimate smoothie bowl topping!
4. Leafy Greens
Best Benefits: antioxidants, weight loss, fibre, phytonutrients
Ah, leafy greens. One of my favourite everyday superfoods that deserve to be on any best superfood list. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens, collard greens and even romaine are all hydrating, loaded with vitamins and minerals and are so low in calories it’s negligible.
They’re also readily available, freeze well, are affordable and can easily be blended into most smoothies with much effect on flavour.
5. Ground Flax Seeds
Best Benefits: omega-3, fibre, protein, lignans, energy
Flax seed is easy to find and a versatile and healthy food to stock in your kitchen. The health benefits of flax include improved digestion, healthy skin, lower cholesterol, reduced sugar cravings, cancer prevention and more. Flax is high in omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source lignans, powerful polyphenol antioxidants that benefits range from anti-aging to hormone balancing.
To use flax seeds in smoothies, opt for ground flax, which you can either purchase ground or as whole flax seeds and grind them yourself. One benefit to grinding your own is your ground flax will be fresh every time. I buy ground flax and store it in the freezer to prolong it’s freshness. Ground flax seeds can be added right into smoothies or mixed with water first to form a thick gel, then added to smoothies.
Flax has an earthy, nutty flavour and goes well with flavours like cinnamon, maca, walnuts, banana and berries.
Best Benefits: energy, antioxidants
I love adding matcha to smoothies for the sustained boost in energy from it’s caffeine content. It also adds a beautiful, bright green colour to smoothies and packs a ton of disease-fighting antioxidants. Matcha goes well with ingredients like tropical fruits, vanilla, avocado, blueberry, coconut and ginger.
Try it in my Mint Matcha Chip Smoothie Bowl Recipe.
7. Raw Walnuts
Best Benefits: brain health, omega-3, vitamin E, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants
Walnuts are a true superfood in every sense of the word. By including a daily serving of walnuts in your diet you can enjoy their cancer-fighting properties, improved brain health, increased levels of healthy cholesterol and take advantage of their many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Walnuts can also help with weight control, diabetes management.
Raw walnuts go well with flavours like almond butter, banana, cinnamon, pumpkin, sweet potato, strawberries, maca, coffee and vanilla. They can be added right into the blender with the rest of your ingredients or used a topping for smoothie bowls. You may want to consider soaking your nuts to before using to break down the phytic acid and allow for proper digestion
8. Camu Camu Powder
Best Benefits: antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, vitamin C, supports immune system, balances mood, eye and brain health
Camu camu powder is a less common superfood but it definitely deserves to be on this list. Camu camu powder comes from a small, reddish fruit with yellow pulp an contains more vitamin C than any other food source recorded. In addition, it contains powerful phytochemicals like beta-carotene, potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, phosphorus and a range of key amino acids.
Camu camu is antiviral and with it’s high vitamin C content, an excellent way to support a healthy immune system. Camu camu powder can be blended into any smoothie and works well with berries, tropical fruits, leafy greens and cashews.
9. Mushroom Powders
Best Benefits: immune-boosting, antioxidants, adaptogenic
I use two superfood mushroom powders on occasion in my kitchen: chaga and reishi mushroom. Chaga mushroom grows on birch trees in colder climates across North American. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much but this superfood mushroom offers a range of powerful health benefits.
Chaga mushroom is most know for it’s ability to support the immune system but it also contains a range of disease-fighting antioxidants, can help normalize blood pressure and cholesterol and has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
The other superfood mushroom which is probably easier to find in stores, is reishi mushroom. Reishi mushrooms have long been used in Asian cultures and has long been a symbol of well-being and longevity. Reishi also supports the body’s immune system and can improve blood circulation. It’s also been used to help treat anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia and even asthma. Both of these mushrooms, much like maca, are considered to be adaptogens.
Adaptogens are natural substances considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. In today’s society, we are exposed to so many environmental stressors, adaptogens may help our bodies maintain a normalized state despite the constant barrage of stress we experience today.
Best Benefits : anti-inflammatory, antioxidants
Mostly due to curcumin, turmeric is one of the most powerful antioxidants and and anti-inflammatories on the planet. For those with joint pain, for athletes or those with chronic inflammatory conditions, turmeric is a good superfood to include in your diet regularly. You can do more than just use it in to curry too.
I add it smoothies and desserts all the time. It’s not too overpowering and I love the colour it adds.
Try it in my Peanut Butter Cup Protein Shake or my Butternut Squash Carrot Smoothie Bowl.
Best Benefits: immune support, digestive health, anti-inflammatory
Ginger is my favourite immunity booster plus it’s flavour goes well with almost everything. Ginger contains numerous other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds beneficial to health beta-carotene, capsaicin, curcumin and salicylate.
The spicy kick it adds works well with everything from chocolate and strawberry, to pineapple and mango. I like to include a big hunk of fresh ginger root in in my weekly shopping list and I’ll cut off chunks as needed for smoothies and other recipes. For smoothies, I simply peel and toss it right in.
Try it in my Butternut Squash Carrot Smoothie Bowl.
Best Benefits: immune support, energy, antioxidants
Just like it’s berry-cousins, the blueberry and cranberry, acai is loaded with phytonutrients, fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, essential amino acids and a range of trace minerals, especially manganese. Acai berries are also believed to help control appetite hormones, increase energy, prevent heart disease and support metabolic function.
You can find acai in the form of frozen smoothie packs, powder or capsules. I like the frozen smoothie packs when I can find them in my local grocery store but acai powder is great too and they add the most beautiful colour to smoothies.
The frozen smoothie packs are perfect for smoothies, just pop one open and add it in. Acai mixes nicely into any smoothie and is particularly delicious mixed with other berries, banana, tropical fruit and smoothie-friendly vegetables like beets and sweet potato.
Best Benefits: protein, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants
Not only is spirulina one for the most nutritious concentrated foods on the planet, it’s gorgeous, bright and beautiful green colour is amazing for creating smoothies. Spirulina is an algae and contains the highest percentage of protein of any food, not only that, the protein is bioavailable, highly digestible and is concentrated a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids. This makes spirulina an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans.
Spirulina is anti-inflammatory, high in vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants has been shown to reduce the risk o f stroke, enhance eye health and reduce cholesterol.
Spirulina has a very strong flavour so the easiest way to use it is blended into smoothies where it’s flavour can be masked. It can be found in powder, liquid and capsule form. I like spirulina powder the best for adding to smoothies.
Try it in my Green Smoothie Bowl.
Best Benefits: detoxification, energy, protein, antioxidants
Chlorella is a powerful detoxifier because of it’s rich chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is known to cleanse the bowel, liver and blood, aid in optimal blood pressure, support elimination of heavy metals such as mercury and mold in the body and promote the grown and repair of tissues.
Beyond it’s detoxification benefits, chlorella is a powerful immunity-booster, promotes healthy digestion, reduces oxidative stress, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of disease and increases energy levels. Chlorella also contains protein and B vitamins so it’s a good food for vegans and vegetarians.
Chlorella can be found in capsules or powder form. I like chlorella powder for adding to smoothies. Chlorella has a very strong flavour but you only need a small amount so it’s easy to blend into smoothies. You can add it into any smoothie to enjoy it’s superfood health benefits. It also adds an incredibly rich, dark green colour!
Try it in my Green Smoothie Bowl Recipe.
Best Benefits: energy, memory, mood, sexual health, calcium, antioxidants
Maca is one of my favourite superfoods for it’s balancing effect on mood and hormones and it’s skin-clarifying benefits. It’s also been shown to support strength, stamina and endurance, making it a good superfood for athletes.
Maca has a pleasant tastes that works well with most flavours, I like it with chocolate, nut butters and banana but it can be blended into anything. You can buy maca in powder or capsule form. I like maca powder for use in smoothies and other recipes.
Try it in myChocolate Almond Smoothie or Tahini Maca Smoothie.
Start with Basics
The 15 best superfoods to add to smoothies listed above are my favourites and ones that I use often in my kitchen. There are plenty others to explore as well:
If you have a particular health concern it may be worth further research into what exact superfoods may benefit you. If I had an endless budget and a giant pantry, I would love to stock them all but that’s not realistic for me.
My recommendation is to start with basics like chia, hemp, flax and either spirulina or chlorella.
If you’re just getting into healthy smoothies, forget this superfood list and start with everyday superfoods you probably already have on hand: a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables! When it comes to getting the most out of your daily smoothie, think about using plant foods in a rainbow of colours.
Maybe one day it’s berries, beets and acai, the next banana, mango, spirulina and matcha, the next it might be spinach, hemp seeds, pineapple and orange.
I like to keep a variety of frozen fruit ready to go and I always stock up when I find it on sale. My favourites are strawberries, blueberries, raspberrries, peach, mango and of course, frozen banana. If you often have bananas going brown on the counter, this is the perfect time to freezer them for smoothies.
Check out my post on the best vegetables to add to smoothies. My favourites are zucchini, cauliflower, sweet potato and pumpkin. In addition to vegetables, don’t forget herbs! Fresh parsley, mint and cilantro can all work in smoothies and go well with tropical fruits like mango and pineapple and fresh, light vegetables like cucumber.
I usually just use water to make my superfood smoothies but any plant-based milk works great. Think coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk or homemade oat or hemp seed milk. Coconut water is a good option too.
As far as smoothie staples go, I love having a variety of nut, seed and coconut butters on hand for healthy fats, flavour and creaminess. My favourites are peanut butter, almond butter, tahini and coconut butter. Oh, the combinations you can make! Whole nuts and seeds make good additions too, think cashews, brazil nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and pepitas.
Superfood Smoothies: Protein
I almost always add plant-based protein powder to my smoothes for flavour and extra protein. My favourite is Vega Performance Protein but I also use plain hemp protein and brown rice protein. Vega One and Vega Protein + Greens are also good choices.
Smoothie Bowl Toppings
Basically everything we’ve talked about can either go in your smoothie or on your smoothie! I like making my smoothies super thick and eating them with a spoon.
Once I’ve blended the ingredients into a creamy, soft-serve consistency, I scoop it into to a bowl and load up with my favourite toppings. I like coconut flakes, shredded coconut, nuts, seeds, dried berries, raisins, cacao nibs, nut butters and everything else we’ve talked about today. Get creative and have some fun with it!
What About Superfoods and Greens Powders?
As an alternative to these individual superfoods, there are some really great superfoods and greens powders on the market that make it convenient to include a range of superfoods in your smoothies. There are also some great protein and greens combo powders that make it easy to both get more protein and take advantage of superfoods.
Using greens powders is a convenient way to ensure you’re getting a wide range of powerful antioxidants and other health benefits without having to think much about it. Here are a few good options:
Smoothies to Try
Try adding superfood powders to any of these smoothies:
Hello Deryn, Ive been doing research on superfoods lately and the benefits they can bring. I know in this article you mention to try and find what is right for you to create your smoothie. I was curious though, would there be any negative to adding a bit of each of these to a smoothie? Or could you actually do more harm by having “too many”. I’m very active and want to focus on making myself as healthy as possible, so I figure if they all have benefits, why not use them all? Thanks!
I don’t think there’s any negative to using all of them but I’m not sure it’s necessary, especially not all in one smoothie. Incoporating a variety of them on a regarlar basis is great though! Fruits and veggies are always the best place to start – those are the true superfoods. From there, for your healthy fats, you can switch it up between hemp seeds, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds and flax, other nuts/seeds or nut/seed butters or choose 2-3 per smoothie.
If you want to use spirulina or chlorella that’s great but both aren’t necessary. Cacao adds quite a strong taste so you might not always want to use it. If you want to include a mushroom powder for antioxidants, I would just choose one. Ginger and turmeric are easy to add to any smoothie and fine to consume daily and together.
Maca has fairly specific benefits so that would be dependent on your needs, and acai isn’t something I use that often but there’s nothing wrong with using it as one of your fruits! For leafy greens, I add a handful to just about every smoothie. A wide variety of whole foods, especially fruits and veggies, on a regular basis is your best bet! Hope that helps.
Beautiful! Also would of liked to see wheatgrass powder on the list
I always add chia seeds to my smoothies and I feel like they elevate the taste.
Thanks. I have to try some of these.
Totally! Let me know if you do!