Smoothies are an easy way to add valuable nutrition to your diet when you’re short on time. But even if you have all the time in the world, smoothies are still an excellent choice, as you can throw together a complete balanced meal brimming with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and, if you try the recipe that follows, even healthy fats.
This avocado super smoothie recipe, which is adapted from one posted by the Little Epicurean,1 works great for breakfast (and is a far healthier choice than cereal, bagels, or pancakes). It can also fill in as a light lunch or a snack – the kind that will actually give you energy and “stick to your ribs” (not your hips), so you’re left satiated instead of starving five minutes later.
Perhaps best of all, every ingredient in this smoothie serves an important purpose nutritionally and, when you blend them all together, it’s absolutely delicious!
Did You Know?
- With a blend of avocado, coconut water, leafy greens, and fresh fruit, this smoothie is brimming with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats
- 1 whole avocado
- 1 cup of torn kale leaves, no stem
- ½ cup organic blueberries
- ½ cup fresh pineapple
- 1 cup of organic baby spinach
- ½ sliced cucumber
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut water
Pour coconut water into blender. Add the avocado, kale, blueberries, pineapple, spinach, and cucumber. Cover with lid and blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses and serve immediately.
Avocados, which are actually classified as a fruit, are low in fructose and rich in healthy monounsaturated fat (which is easily burned for energy), and research has confirmed the avocado's ability to benefit vascular function and heart health.
Avocados are also very high in potassium (more than twice the amount found in a banana) and will help balance your vitally important potassium-to-sodium ratio. Avocados also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid. Besides eating them raw, you can use avocado as a fat substitute in recipes calling for butter or other oils.
Research has also found that avocados are helpful for regulating your blood sugar levels,2 and they might help improve lipid profiles, both in healthy individuals and in those with mild hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol levels).3
Plus, by adding an avocado to your smoothie there’s a good chance it will help you absorb more of the antioxidants it contains. Due to avocados’ beneficial raw fat content, avocado enables your body to more efficiently absorb fat-soluble nutrients (such as alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein) in other foods eaten in conjunction.
One 2005 study found that adding avocado to salad allowed the volunteers to absorb three to five times more carotenoid antioxidant molecules.4
Another boon of avocados—they're one of the safest fruits you can buy conventionally grown, so you don't need to spend more for organic ones. Their thick skin protects the inner fruit from pesticides. Personally, I eat a whole avocado virtually every day.
Just one cup of kale will flood your body with disease-fighting vitamins K, A, and C, along with respectable amounts of manganese, copper, B vitamins, fiber, calcium, and potassium. With each serving of kale, you’ll also find more than 45 unique flavonoids, which have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.5
Kale is also a good source of cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. To date, kale has been found to lower the risk of at least five types of cancer, including bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate.6 The glucosinolates in kale and other cruciferous vegetables break down into products that help protect DNA from damage.7
Blueberries exert positive effects upon your lipid profile, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes. And because of their bountiful antioxidants, blueberries are one of the best fruits to protect you from premature aging. Blueberries have also been shown to alleviate inflammatory intestinal conditions, such as ulcerative colitis.
Plus, berries contain concentrated amounts of the disease-fighting phytochemicals found to boost your immunity, prevent cancer, protect your heart, and prevent seasonal allergies. Berries are lower in sugar than many fruits, so they are less likely to destabilize your insulin levels yet will add a nice sweetness and flavor to this smoothie recipe.
Pineapple contains an enzyme, bromelain, which aids digestion, reduces inflammation and swelling and may have anti-cancer effects. Rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, pineapple also provides immune support and is an excellent source of manganese, thiamin, and riboflavin, which are important for energy production.
Spinach is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including folate, vitamin A, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, and selenium. Spinach also contains flavonoids that may help protect your body from free radicals, while offering anti-inflammatory benefits and antioxidant support. As reported by the George Mateljan Foundation:8
“While this mixture of conventional nutrients gives spinach a unique status in the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory department, it is the unusual mixture of phytonutrients in spinach that ‘seals the deal’ in terms of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components.
In terms of flavonoids, spinach is a unique source of methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides, and in terms of carotenoids, it’s difficult to find a more helpful source of lutein and zeaxanthin. The epoxyxanthophyll carotenoids neoxanthin and violaxanthin are also welcomed constituents of spinach leaves.”
With vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies that are widespread among those eating a typical American diet.
They contain an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin that appears to play an important role in your brain health. Cucumbers also contain polyphenols called lignans, which may help to lower your risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
Plus, cucumbers are made up of 95 percent water, making them an ideal hydrating and cooling food, and an excellent addition to smoothies (especially during the warmer months).
Hawaiians call coconut water "noelani," which means "dew from the heavens." It is a clear, light, refreshing liquid (95 percent water) extracted from young, green coconuts that have not reached maturity. Coconut water is:
- Rich in natural vitamins (especially the B vitamins), minerals, and trace elements (including zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, and manganese). Vitamins are necessary for the enzymatic reactions your cells need in order to function.
- Full of amino acids, organic acids, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
- Rich source of electrolytes and natural salts, especially potassium and magnesium.
- Light, low-calorie, and low in sugar but pleasantly sweet—contains about a fifth of the sugar of other fruit juices, like apple or grape juice, as well as containing a little fiber to moderate absorption.
- Rich in cytokinins, or plant hormones, which have anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-thrombolytic effects in humans.
Coconut water also has an alkalizing effect on your body, which can help correct the cumulative effects of acidifying foods that make up most diets today. Fresh coconut water is also one of the richest natural sources of electrolytes and can be used to prevent dehydration from strenuous exercise, vomiting or diarrhea.
When making smoothies, you don’t have to stick exactly to the recipe. If you have raspberries instead of blueberries, for instance, or want to change it up by adding in some raw milk or kefir, you can do that. In fact, it’s a good idea to switch up your smoothie ingredients regularly to ensure you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients in your diet. Other healthy ingredients that work great in smoothies include:
|Raw organic pastured eggs
||High-quality whey protein powder
|Organic psyllium (for added fiber)
||Seeds (try alternating between chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds)
For one of my favorite smoothies, I put a giant scoop of the banana Miracle Whey in a one-quart glass mason jar, and then I add two raw organic, free-range eggs. Then I add in some coconut milk. When combined with the banana-flavored whey, this mix imparts a heavenly flavor of coconut banana. Coconut is a great source of MCTs, which are medium chain triglycerides. MCTs are the best low-glycemic fuel for your muscles after exercise.
Thus, the coconut milk further enhances the fueling impact of Miracle Whey, which also contains MCTs. To increase the fiber content, I then add in a teaspoon or two of organic psyllium and, to top it all off, I add some seeds, such as chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. I prefer to blend this altogether using a hand mixer (for ease of cleanup), but you can also make it in a traditional blender. You can tailor your own smoothies to your own taste, using the fruits and vegetables you prefer, and adding coconut water, coconut milk, raw milk, raw yogurt, or kefir, for instance.
One important caveat: be careful to not overdo the fruit, especially if you are insulin or leptin resistant (are overweight, diabetic, hypertensive, or have high cholesterol). If this applies to you, I recommend limiting your fructose intake to a maximum of 15 grams of fructose per day from ALL sources, including whole fruit. You’re far better off making your own smoothies at home for this very reason, because many store-bought smoothies contain excessive amounts of fructose from fruit, and perhaps even added sugars on top of that, even though they’re advertised as healthy.