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Smoothies are an excellent way to incorporate nutritional foods into your diet without compromising your busy lifestyle. Using smoothies also gives you the opportunity to easily add in vital superfoods -- and these superfoods are excellent additions that are both versatile and healthy.
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are an easy way to boost both your fiber and your omega-3 fatty acids intake. In fact, just one tablespoon of chia seeds provides more than 20 percent of your daily fiber recommendation! In addition to being nearly tasteless, chia seeds thicken smoothies and make them more filling for the perfect breakfast on those busy school mornings.
2. Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
Use unsweetened Greek yogurt in your smoothie to add in probiotics -- which can boost immunity and improve digestion -- as well as protein for a healthy dose of energy. It also adds an incredible creaminess to your smoothie that is both filling and delicious.
Like chia seeds, ground flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber and fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to regulate blood clotting, reduce inflammation and boost heart health. Flaxseeds also contain lignans, which may potentially aid in the prevention of some types of cancer. The nutty flaxseed flavor is very subtle, which lends itself to nearly any type of smoothie.
4. Almond Butter
A tablespoon of almond butter contains fiber and enough protein to rival one ounce of meat. In addition, almond butter is an excellent source of vitamin E, iron and magnesium. Make an "almond butter and jelly smoothie" with almond butter, frozen red grapes, milk, vanilla and 1/2 an overripe banana -- and watch your kids ask for seconds!
Kale is a leafy green whose health properties rival spinach. In addition to fiber and protein, kale contains a range of antioxidants including beta carotene, vitamin C, quercetin and kaempferol. When blended with fruits such as bananas, cherries or pears, the taste of kale is barely perceptible.
6. Cocoa Powder
Adding cocoa powder to a morning smoothie can be an effective way to get picky children to eat breakfast while still enjoying those superfood benefits. Because it contains flavonids, cocoa powder can improve the flow of blood to the heart and brain while also lowering blood pressure. Plus, cocoa powder contains almost no fat and less than 15 calories for each tablespoon serving size. It's important to make sure that you're purchasing non-alkalized or raw cocoa powder to obtain its full benefits.
7. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil combines numerous benefits with a smooth and rich taste to deliver a powerful nutritional punch to smoothies. The saturated fats in coconut oil are medium-chain fatty acids which provide a rapid source of energy. Coconut oil could reduce the effects of LDL cholesterol -- perhaps better known as "bad" cholesterol -- by converting it to a form that is less harmful.
Smoothies are a quick and easy snack or breakfast. They can also be used with lunch and dinner to boost the nutritional value of those meals. Keeping the above seven superfoods on hand gives you an incredible way to whip up smoothies any time of the day or night.