Ideally we all would love our veggies and wouldn’t have to sneak them in but we aren’t all there. Until we are, smoothies might be one of the easier ways to sneak them in. The powerful flavor of the fruit and booster foods overpower the veggies to the point that you can’t even taste them. For the seemingly small population of people who don’t like how sweet smoothies are, the more veggies you add the weaker the sweet flavor will be.
Top veggies to throw in your smoothie and what makes them great!
Frozen Cauliflower – I like to add frozen cauliflower to keep
myself from adding too many servings of fruit. It won’t change the flavor too much and adds great amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate (B9), Pantothenic Acid, and Vitamin B6 as well as some Choline, and Fiber. It’s almost like an alternative to ice. I’ve tried smoothies with ice and without ice and a little bit of added water seems to give the smoothie a better texture and mellow the flavor. Cauliflower is also believed to play a role in cancer prevention by reducing oxidation, lowering inflammation, and supporting liver functions. Particularly in cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, prostate, and ovaries.
Spinach – Another great veggie to add either fresh or frozen. Spinach will provide excellent amounts of Chlorophyl (what makes plants look green), Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Manganese (Mn), Folate (B9), Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Calcium (Ca), Potassium (K), and Vitamin C. It also contains very good amounts of Fiber, Phosphorous (P), Vitamin B1, Zinc, Protein, and Choline. Of a number of vegetables studied, spinach was the only one shown to protect against advanced (Stage III and IV) prostate cancer. Other cancers include stomach and maybe skin and breast cancer. Spinach is outrageously nutritious. Just throw some in!
Carrots – Carrots have an innate sweetness to them which makes them a great choice for anyone who is new to veggies in the smoothies. Carrots are known to be good for the eyes, providing about all the Vitamin A one needs in just a cup of sliced carrots, but they’re also great for cancer and cardiovascular health. Then anti-oxidants protect LDL from becoming oxidized and forming plaque while the polyacetylenes (like falcarinol) are shown to inhibit the growth of colon cancer. Maybe some of those older carrots that have gotten soft sitting in the fridge could be great for this. (or you could soak them in cold water to crisp them up again)
Fennel – A relative of carrots, fennel is also slightly sweet but with a mild licorice flavor. This could be an interesting flavor for your smoothie. I have to admit I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve been told that it’s very tasty. It’s full of known phytonutrients like rutin, quercitin, and kaempferol glycosides. It also contains excellent amounts of Vitamin C for antioxidant support and immune support. And just like carrots, fennel is cancer protective, although through a different mechanism.
Cucumber – This is another great vegetable for those trying veggies in their smoothies for the first time. It’s very hydrating and provides electrolytes. You could try cucumbers in a post-exercise smoothie to replenish your electrolytes. Here is a list of well-known phytonutrients in cucumbers, many are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer: apigenin, luleolin, quercetin, kaempferol, pinoresinol, lariciresinol, secoisolariciresinol, and cucurbitacin (A, B, C, and D). It goes to show you that there are thousands of nutrients out there besides the typical vitamins and minerals.
Celery – Similar to cucumbers, celery is hydrating and full of electrolytes. The phytonutrient called phthalides provide a major part of the flavor of celery, but they have another benefit, lowering blood pressure. Phthalides can relax the blood vessels and likely act like a diuretic, ultimately lowering blood pressure in TWO ways. Those with high blood pressure can try 4 stalks of celery a day for 2 weeks to see if any change occurs. If so, see what another two weeks of 4 stalks a day would do. And although no human studies have been done on cancer specifically, the antioxidant power of celery is believed to play a role in preventing cancers that are caused by oxidative stress.
Beets – This is one of my favorites foods. It’s literally oozing with red betalain phytonutrients. I like the idea of raw beets in a smoothie because the betaine compounds break down during cooking. They are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and can support liver functions (Phase 2 liver detox). Lab tests on human tissues show anti-cancer effects for colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate, and testicular cancers (possibly from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity). And don’t freak out if you leave some red betalains in the toilet. Typically one would have to eat a few servings of beets for their poo to turn a little red but sometimes just a little goes a long way. Some even have a reddening of their urine and this is not a problem.
If you remember anything from adding veggies to your smoothies, remember this: vegetables often have at least some phytonutrient effect on cancer
- The world’s Healthiest Foods. (2015). Beets. Retrieved from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49.
- The Word’s Healthiest Foods. (2015). Carrots. Retrieved from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=21
- The World’s Healthiest Foods. (2015). Cauliflower. Retrieved from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13.
- The World’s Healthiest Foods. (2015). Celery. Retrieved from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=14.
- The Word’s Healthiest Foods. (2015). Cucumbers. Retrieved from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=42.
- The World’s Healthiest Foods. (2015). Fennel. Retrieved from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=23.
- The World’s Healthiest Foods. (2015). Spinach. Retrieved from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43.