Recipe: super nutritious green smoothie

I like to include in my daily diet a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, part of which raw. A green smoothie is certainly a good and tasty way to contribute to that.

In smoothies, you blend whole vegetables and fruits together with a liquid (I simply use water). This means that you will get a high dose of fiber, which is great as a high fiber intake has been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, improved gut health, lower body weight, cancer prevention, among other benefits [1-3].

Beyond fiber, smoothies can provide you a wide array of other nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Today I would like to share with you one of my green smoothie recipes.  Whenever possible, I use vegetables from the season and so my green smoothie recipes vary, but I try to include in all of them:

  • green leafy vegetables (e.g. kale, spinach, collard greens, etc)
  • cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, etc)
  • other types of seasonal vegetables
  • Avocado (beyond being very nutritious, it also gives the smoothie a really nice and creamy consistency)
  • one or two fruits.
  • I have also started including almonds, flax seeds and hemp seeds.

In this recipe I am sharing with you today I included kale, cucumber, fennel, broccoli, almonds, avocado, banana, apple, flax seeds, hemp seeds and spirulina. This green smoothie will provide you a high amount and variety of many nutrients, such as magnesium, folate, vitamin K1, vitamin C, carotenoids, iron, calcium, potassium, sulphur-containing compounds (e.g. sulforaphane), healthy fatty acids, protein (yes, protein!), fiber, among many other beneficial nutrients.

Magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule, which is what gives plants the green color. Many enzymes in our body require magnesium as a cofactor to function properly, including the ones that use and produce the “energy molecule ” – ATP. In fact, ATP also needs to be bound to a magnesium molecule to be biologically active. In addition to cellular energy production and storage, other processes that require magnesium include, but are not limited to, protein synthesis, reproduction, DNA and RNA synthesis and repair, and stabilization of mitochondrial membranes. Magnesium is also crucial for nerve transmission, cardiac excitability, neuromuscular conduction, muscular contraction, vasomotor tone (i.e., contraction or dilation of blood vessels), blood pressure, and glucose and insulin metabolism [4]. In fact, low levels of magnesium have been associated with several chronic diseases including migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes [4]. This green smoothie will definitely give you a boost in your magnesium intake.

Kale, for example, is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two carotenoids crucial for eye health [5]. They are highly concentrated in our eye’s retina and protect it from potential damage by light or oxygen. Studies have shown that a high intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is linked to a reduced risk of certain eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration [6].

In addition, kale is one of the richest sources of vitamin K (specifically, vitamin K1). Vitamin K is required as cofactor to activate proteins in our body involved in coagulation, removal of calcium out of the bloodstream to prevent calcification of the arteries and take it to the bones instead [7].

This green smoothie is also rich in folate, which is crucial for many body functions such as incorporation of thiamin (a DNA nucleotide) into DNA and also for DNA methylation (and thus, important to regulate epigenetics). Folate, as you may know, is crucial in the early stages of pregnancy to ensure the correct folding and closing of the neural tube.

Kale and broccoli have a type of isothiocyanate called sulforaphane, which has potent anti-carcinogenic effects [8, 9], cardiovascular protecting effects [10] as well as neuroprotective effects [11].

This green smoothie is also rich in potassium, which is a crucial mineral to keep a healthy blood pressure (and thus, beneficial for cardiovascular health), reduce the risk of kidney stones and prevent age-related bone loss, among other benefits [12].

Avocados and almonds are a good source of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant. Among many other benefits, vitamin E has a critical role in protecting our nervous system from oxidative damage and helping us preserving learning and memory [13]. However, one should consider very carefully our source of our vitamin E as studies have shown that vitamin E from supplements may in fact be detrimental [14]. Therefore, I like to include vitamin E rich foods in my diet, but not vitamin E supplements.

Avocados, almonds, hemp seeds and flax seeds are also rich sources of healthy fats, which, among many other benefits, have been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease [15]. In addition, the healthy fat in our green smoothie is important as it improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin E and carotenoids, and also, it makes us feel full for longer periods of time.

Flax and hemp seeds contain a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), whose benefits I wrote previously about in this post. In addition, flax seeds are the richest source of lignans (a type of polyphenols). They have been associated with both prevention and survival of breast cancer [16, 17]. Also, lignans in flax seeds were shown to decrease total and LDL cholesterol [18].

Hemp seeds are a source of another type of omega-3 fatty acid called stearidonic acid (SDA), about which I also wrote previously in this article.

Spirulina has an impressive nutrient profile. It contains over 60 % protein and it has a high content of iron and vitamins. It can also be a good source of iodine (but it depends where the spirulina you buy comes from). If you are struggling with iron deficiency, I definitely think that incorporating spirulina in your diet is a good idea (consumed with a vitamin C rich food to enhance iron absorption), but I recommend you talk first about this with your health care practitioner.

The hemp seeds, almonds and spirulina in this smoothie also increase its protein content.

Of course all these compounds I just wrote about are not the only ones present in this green smoothie. There are many other health promoting nutrients in these veggies, nuts and seeds, many of which we probably don’t even know yet they exist. The truth is that science hasn’t found all compounds present in plants nor all the health benefits related to each compound that we already know it exists.

So, I hope you got motivated to try out this super healthy green smoothie (or a similar version of it)!

Whenever possible, I do encourage you to buy organic ingredients for this recipe.

5 from 1 vote
Print

Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 glasses

Ingredients

  • 4 kale leaves
  • ½ cucumber ~185g
  • 1 fennel ~200g
  • 100 g broccoli
  • 50 g whole almonds (or almond butter if you prefer)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tsp spirulina 5g
  • 1 banana*
  • 1 apple
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 400 ml water

Instructions

  1. Chop all the vegetables in smaller pieces.
  2. Add the kale first to the blender, then the frozen banana, and then the remaining ingredients.
  3. Blend everything for about 2 min (or longer if you think it is not yet smooth enough. But I do recommend you leave the blender resting for about 1 min before you turn it on again).

Recipe Notes

* I used frozen bananas (that I had previously frozen). The smoothie always gets warm in the blending process and to keep it cold, and thus preserve more vitamins, I like to include a frozen fruit.

This is the nutrition information for the whole smoothie recipe. You could drink it all throughout the day or share it with your family 🙂

Enjoy this delicious and nutritious green smoothie! 🙂

 

Live healthy and conscious,

Ana Coito, PhD

 

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to our free newsletter here.

References

  1.        Aune, D., et al., Dietary fiber and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Ann Oncol, 2012. 23(6): p. 1394-402.
  2.        Slavin, J., Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients, 2013. 5(4): p. 1417-35.
  3.        Threapleton, D.E., et al., Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 2013. 347: p. f6879.
  4.        Volpe, S.L., Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health. Adv Nutr, 2013. 4(3): p. 378S-83S.
  5.        Johnson, E.J., Role of lutein and zeaxanthin in visual and cognitive function throughout the lifespan. Nutr Rev, 2014. 72(9): p. 605-12.
  6.        Ma, L., et al., Lutein and zeaxanthin intake and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr, 2012. 107(3): p. 350-9.
  7.        Paakkari, I., Vitamin K: from coagulation to calcification. Duodecim, 2016. 132(19): p. 1755-62.
  8.        Tortorella, S.M., et al., Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition. Antioxid Redox Signal, 2015. 22(16): p. 1382-424.
  9.        Li, Y. and T. Zhang, Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Future Oncol, 2013. 9(8): p. 1097-103.
  10.      Bai, Y., et al., Sulforaphane Protects against Cardiovascular Disease via Nrf2 Activation. Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2015. 2015: p. 407580.
  11.      Tarozzi, A., et al., Sulforaphane as a potential protective phytochemical against neurodegenerative diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2013. 2013: p. 415078.
  12.      Weaver, C.M., Potassium and health. Adv Nutr, 2013. 4(3): p. 368S-77S.
  13.      Ulatowski, L.M. and D. Manor, Vitamin E and neurodegeneration. Neurobiol Dis, 2015. 84: p. 78-83.
  14.      Bjelakovic, G., et al., Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA, 2007. 297(8): p. 842-57.
  15.      Willett, W.C., Dietary fats and coronary heart disease. J Intern Med, 2012. 272(1): p. 13-24.
  16.      McCann, S.E., et al., Dietary lignan intakes in relation to survival among women with breast cancer: the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer (WEB) Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat, 2010. 122(1): p. 229-35.
  17.      Flower, G., et al., Flax and Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review. Integr Cancer Ther, 2014. 13(3): p. 181-92.
  18.      Almario, R.U. and S.E. Karakas, Lignan content of the flaxseed influences its biological effects in healthy men and women. J Am Coll Nutr, 2013. 32(3): p. 194-9.

 

3 Responses to “Recipe: super nutritious green smoothie

  • Jennifer
    4 months ago

    Hello again Ana,
    Your smoothie sounds very refreshing and tasty ! My smoothie has alot more bitter things, such as ground black cumin seed, black pepper, ground milk thistle seeds, and a bunch of broccoli sprouts. I also add spirulina and nori flakes. For fat I soak walnuts , flax, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds and toss them in. Oh yes…always a big chunk of fresh ginger and turmeric. I cram massive amounts of fresh picked kale, chard, spinach, and parsley/cilantro in and top it off with frozen blueberries and strawberries.
    Needless to say this is ALL organic. It is quite time consuming so I make a huge amount (3 quart jars) and drink one a day.
    My question is….am I losing significant nutrients by storing it in the fridge for up to 72 hours?

    • Ana Coito, PhD
      4 months ago

      Hi Jennifer,
      Wow, your smoothie sounds absolutely great!! 🙂
      I believe it is best if the smoothie can be consumed in one day, but I do know that is sometimes difficult when we make larger amounts. So I would say that storing in the fridge for up to 3 days is fine, although I would expect that some of the vitamin content will be reduced (such as vitamin C, for example).
      Have a great day!
      Ana

  • Jennifer
    4 months ago

    Oh yes, I forgot to mention….to keep from staining your pearly whites with these smoothies, you can get extra large stainless steel straws from “raw nori.com”. I was seeing my dentist for stain removal every 4 months till I discovered these gems… now I only get cleanings every year and my teeth are super white. These straws are wide enough for the thickest smoothies !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *