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Health and Fitness

Boost Metabolism, Fight Disease & Detox: The Health Benefits Behind These 14 Green Smoothie Ingredients

by Maria Bell Published on 31 March 2014

Green smoothies are healthy. We've all got that down. But what exactly should you put in them to make sure your body is getting the ultimate benefits? We talked to Michela Vagnini, Nutritional Advisor for Nature's Plus, to get the low down on which green smoothie ingredients are bound to boost your health.

We all know that green smoothies can help detox your body but this list of green ingredients can do a whole lot more. From boosting your metabolism to helping with eye health, joint health, heart health - there's pretty much no part of your body that a green smoothie can't help.

If you want to join the likes of health-hotshots like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Miranda Kerr, Millie Mackintosh and Gwynny P, get a blender, and bulk buy these ingredients. You're about to get a big ol' boost of benefits.

Kale

If you haven't got on the kale train, then seriously people, you need to get a ticket fast. Although kale is pretty small it contains a huge list of health benefits and adding it to your smoothie will do no end of good for your body.

Michela says: "Kale is an excellent source of carotenes (lutein, zeastantin and betacarotene), vitamin C, B6, B1 B2, E and magnesium."

All of these vitamins help to ​keep your muscles and nerve tissue healthy as well as helping with your metabolism. If that's not enough, Michela says that kale also offers ​"a very good source of fibre and other minerals including copper, iron and calcium."

Spirulina

Spirulina is having a bit of a health food renaissance right now. It's pretty much everywhere and for good reason too.

Michela says: "Spirulina is often deemed the most nutritionally complete of all food supplements, containing a rich supply of many important nutrients, including protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, and vitamins A, K, and B complex. It also has a high supply of carotenoids such as beta carotene and yellow xanthophylls which have antioxidant properties. And it's rich in chlorophyll, fatty and nucleic acids, and lipids. Thus, spirulina has countless uses as a supplement for maintaining good health and for preventing diseases."

Get it in that blender!

Chlorella

A favourite of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Millie Mackintosh and Miranda Kerr, chlorella might not be on your radar yet but it should be. Michela says it's packed full of vitamins and minerals to help with a whole load of ailments.

"​Chlorella is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. It provides these nutrients in a whole food bundle which is far superior to any synthetic formula. Chlorella contains highly beneficial magnesium, which improves blood sugar levels, heart health, mental health and relaxation to name a few. As well as containing other important minerals like potassium, iron and calcium."

Michela says just don't be put off by the colour, it's precisely that which "improves immunity, alkalinity, and inflammation - it can even fight bad breath."

And if that wasn't enough, chlorella is also a great source of protein full of amino acids which are responsible for rebuilding the body's lean tissues and neurotransmitters.

Spinach

We all know that spinach is great source of strength and energy for the body, but what else does it do?

​For starters Michela explains that it helps with eye sight, preventing cellular degeneration and is, of course, "great for blood health (high iron content) to restore energy and vitality."

This is due, Michela says, to the whole load of vitamins and minerals within spinach including "vitamin K, carotenes (one of the richest source of lutein), vitamin C, E, B1,2,6, folic acid, magnesium and iron."

Matcha

Matcha. Means. Business. And you need to know about it. With a whopping ​1571 antioxidants compared to the 12.6 found in spinach (like wow) matcha is the secret ingredient your smoothie has been searching for.

There are also high levels of amino acid L-theanine which raise energy levels while also preventing you getting that insane ‘coffee buzz’. Even buddhists monks use it to aid meditation. Then on TOP of all that, the high levels of chlorophyll, nutrients, amino acids, vitamins and fibres mean you'll boost that metabolism in no time.

Just beware, you only need a tiny half a teaspoon in your smoothie to feel the effects (and not want to spew), so a great product to have is Teapigs Green Matcha which has a tiny spoon to measure!

Avocado

What can't you do with avocado? It's great for your skin, hair and tastes delicious - but why?

Michela says: "Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats which are second only to olives. The oils provided by avocadoes are oleic and linoleic acid, thereby it might help to reduce cholesterol levels. They are also very beneficial for skin issues like eczema and dermatitis."

​They also contain three times more potassium than bananas and have vitamin B, E and fibres. They can thicken your smoothie and give a depth of flavour and delicious smooth texture. There's no reason not to include an avocado in your smoothie.

Green tea

Green tea has a lot of benefits. Just don't get this confused with your normal tea because the special way green tea is produced, means it's completely different. Michela says, as "the leaves are lightly steamed" it prevents "the enzymes activity so the plant preserves the polyphenols activity which are highly anti cancer".

​Like many of the other ingredients on this list, green tea contains high amount of vitamin C,D, K and B2, calcium, iron, zinc and sodium which help with detoxing, cleansing and energising the body.

But Michela says: "Its main benefits are coming from its polyphenols content. The main polyphenols in green tea are flavonoids and the most active is epigallocatechin gallate which is a great antioxidant. Green tea polyphenols may increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the small intestine, liver and lungs and it increases detoxification in the liver too."

Cos lettuce

The thought of putting a whole load of lettuce in your smoothie might not have you salivating, but adding this refreshing green will be well worth it. (Plus the mild flavour can be easily masked.)

Michela explains: "It is one of the most nutritious lettuce due to its dark green leaves. It is a great source of chlorophyll and vitamin K, A, B, 1 and 2, folic acid, and is also an excellent source of magnesium and chromium."

This means it can remove toxins, protect your skin, and improve metabolism. ​Plus as it's mainly water, there are very few calories - win!

Dandelion green

Traditionally Michela says that dandelion was used regularly because of its "ability to correct a multitude of disorders like: diabetes, obesity and liver issues."

But that's not all, dandelion leaves are used in many traditional digestive remedies and drinks due to its taraxacin found in the leaves which supposedly have antiseptic and germicidal effects. That's a lot of power for a few tiny leaves.

So if you need some more reasons to add it to your smoothie, dandelion leaves also contain a "particularly high amount of vitamin A (with high content of carotenoids), B6, C, B2, B1 and calcium, copper, manganese, inulin, choline and proteins and iron."

If you want to generally cleanse your system or want to improve skin condition, Dandelion Green is your new go-to ingredient.​

Kiwi

Yes kiwis taste AMAZING but it's not their taste that's the most important here. Michela explains that kiwis are important for "respiratory tract health and issues like wheezing, shortness of breath and night coughing". Who knew?

Because kiwis have high amount of vitamin C, B, A, fibre, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, Michela says they are "a great source of antioxidants and enzymes".

Swiss chard

Swiss chard won't be the most obvious thing on your menu but coming from the same family as spinach and beets, this green has a lot to give. One word of warning though, historically its juice was used as laxative, decongestant and anti-acid so just make sure you don't over do it with this one!

Michela says: "Its nutrient content makes swiss chard a great colon and GI tract protector from common diseases like constipation and other worse conditions like colon cancer. The vitamin K1 found in chard is an activator of osteocalcin which are responsible to attach calcium molecules into our bones so it protects us from osteoporosis. It is an excellent source of carotenes, vitamin C , E, K, fibre and chlorophyll.

"It also provides lots of minerals like: magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and manganese. In addition to a natural source of B6, proteins, thiamine, zinc, folic acid and selenium." That's one mighty big list! Chuck it in that blender girls!

Apple

Everything you've heard about apples is true. End of. They are rich in fibres, pectin and vitamin C and Michela says "raw apple with the skin on are the most nutritious that is why we should consume them whole and organic."

So instead of juicing the life out of your apple (which gets rid of the goodness and just leaves fructose) make sure you blend.

​Michela says: "Many important phytochemicals are found in the skin like quercetin and ellagic and chlorogenic acid. These precious nutrients play an important role in preventing cardiac diseases, asthma, type 2 diabetes and cancer. The gel forming pectin can lower cholesterol levels and and stimulate colon peristalsis promoting regularity and reduce diarrhoea."

Celery

It might not be the most exciting of all ingredients but celery has a lot more positives than being low in calories.

Michela says: "Celery is a good source of vitamin C, B6,1, and 2, fibres, calcium, and folic acid. It has high amount of sodium but even higher amounts of potassium which makes it a perfect hydrating drink during summer season and post workout."

Its concentration of phytochemicals called coumarins are also "great to tone the cardiovascular system and reduce blood pressure." The fact it is used in remedies for migraines and joint pain should be proof enough that this is a hard working lil' veg.

Cucumber

Unsurprisingly cucumbers are one of the best natural products to aid healthy living. They're a good source of B vitamins which help increase energy levels.

​They are also 95 percent water so an amazing source of hydration for your body, and especially your skin. BUT for it to be good for your skin, you have to leave the skin on as that’s where all the vitamin C is contained.

​It’s also said that cucumber can aid with bad breath due to the concentration of phytochemicals. They’re also rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C & D, folate, calcium,magnesium, potassium and fibre aiding cholesterol levels, blood pressure digestion and joint health.

If you can't be bothered to blend all these lovely ingredients up every morning (and we don't blame you) then why not just get Nature's Plus 100% natural Green Lightning Powder Sachet containing over 50 fruits, vegetables and green foods? Alternatively why not make differently blends of these power ingredients until you find your version of the perfect green smoothie?

Do a bit of a Millie Mac' and tweet us a photo of your fave green smoothies @sofeminineUK.

by Maria Bell