If you’ve ever perused the menu at a juice bar or wandered the aisles of a health food store, you may be wondering if all those supplements and superfoods are worth it. Should you add a boost to your beverage? What are the health benefits? Well, look no further - your guide to smoothie and juice supplements is here.
Protein boosts are on of the most popular additives to smoothies and juices. Protein powders come in many varieties. Whey protein powder, one of the most popular, is made from cow’s milk, but there are plenty of non-animal options. Pea protein powder and soy protein powder are two common alternatives.
Adding a dose of protein powder can help rebuild and repair muscles after a tough workout, but if you’re just looking for a snack or limiting calories, you may want to pass on protein powder.
A plant native to Central America, the chia seed has been getting a lot of popular press lately. These tiny seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acid as well as fiber. Some research suggests that they might lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Chia seeds absorb liquid and become gel-like after a few minutes, so if you can handle their slightly chewy texture, they might be a great addition to your next drink.
Flax seeds are high in fiber and contain omega-3 fatty acid, which has been shown to improve cardiac health, as well as lignans, which may ward off cancer. To get the most benefit from flax seeds, add a few tablespoons of ground seeds to your smoothie or juice. Whole, unground seeds may not provide as many healthy benefits as they’ll pass through your digestive tract without breaking down.
Yes, they’re legal. And no, they won’t get you high. Although they come from the same plant as marijuana, hemp seeds do not contain high levels of THC. They do, however, contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which studies suggest may lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Hemp seeds, or hemp hearts as they’re sometimes called, are also high in fiber. Add a few spoonfuls for some nutty nutrition!
This algae has been reported to heal a number of illnesses from allergies to oral cancer to liver disorders. More research needs to be done before any definite conclusions can be made, but this additive is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and it contains a high percentage of amino acid proteins. If you’re intrigued, make a green smoothie by adding a spoonful of spirulina powder.
A long time favorite with health nuts, the juice is extracted from the sprouts of wheatgrass. This so-called superfood is said to have anti-inflammatory and immune-system boosting properties. It also contains vitamins A, B, C, and E as well as the minerals selenium, iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper, and zinc. Have a 1 ounce shot of wheatgrass juice on its own or add it to your favorite smoothie.
Proponents of bee pollen say its enzymes can increase athletic performance, reduce gastrointestinal problems, relieve PMS symptoms, and assist with weight loss. The jury is still out on many of these claims, but small doses are likely safe. Caveat: If you’re at all allergic to bees or have a pollen allergy you should avoid supplementing with bee pollen.
This Peruvian root is often sold in powder form and can be added to smoothies, and baked goods or made into a fermented drink. Some studies suggest that it has sexual health benefits. Maca may also improve fertility in men and regulate mood and energy levels.
The next time you sidle up to the juice bar (or your blender), use this supplement guide to help you create the perfect beverage.
Megan is a writer, RRCA certified running coach, and new mom living and training in rural upstate New York. She competed in DIII track and cross-country at Wesleyan University and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance.
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