Confused by all the exotic smoothie powders with hard to pronounce names lining the shelves of your health food store? What happened to plain ‘ole protein powder? While these “superfood” ingredients are usually more hype than substance, they are a fun way to add unique nutrients and flavor to your morning blend. Here’s a guide to the most common smoothie powders on the market:
These crunchy yellow pellets of pollen bound with bee saliva, nectar and honey, form on the legs of young bees as they fly from flower to flower. Bee pollen has been touted as a natural remedy for asthma, allergies, and digestive issues, but there’s no research to support this. That said, it may have some anti-inflammatory properties and contains B vitamins and folic acid. Me, I enjoy bee pollen for it’s crunchy texture and slightly sweet honey flavor sprinkled over the top of my smoothie bowls. If you’re allergic to bees, do not consume bee pollen, as it can cause anaphylactic shock.
This emerald green powder is actually an edible microalgae. Although it tastes and smells a bit like pond scum, it’s packed with nutrients. The unpleasant taste is easily hidden in a smoothie, as long as you stick with a small amount, about ½-1 teaspoon. Think of it as nature’s multivitamin, as it’s said to contain a wider array of nutrients than any other food.
Maca a powered root vegetable related to the radish that grows in the Andes. It was used for centuries by the Incans to boost energy and improve virility. Today, maca is often marketed for chronic fatigue, hormonal balance and fertility, although the results of small studies have been mixed. It has a sweet, nutty and slightly malty flavor that tastes delicious mixed in banana and nut butter smoothies. Stick with 1-3 teaspoons.
The powered leaves of the moringa tree, which is harvested in parts of Asia and Africa, is packed with nutrients. Just one tablespoon provides 3 grams of fiber, 20% daily needs of vitamin A, 15% daily needs of calcium, and a whopping 50% daily needs of iron.
Raw cacao powder is made by grinding raw cocoa beans into a powder that’s cold-pressed to remove the fats. It’s said to contain more nutrients than cocoa powder, which is heated, although both are extremely rich in antioxidant flavanols, which are beneficial for cognitive and heart health. Raw cacao powder has a bitter flavor because it’s unsweetened, but blended into a sweet banana or berry smoothie it adds a rich, chocolaty taste.
Matcha is the finely ground powder of green tea leaves from plants grown in the shade to produce a tea that’s higher in caffeine and the amino acid theanine. Caffeine helps with alertness, while theanine has calming benefits. Matcha powder is powerful – one teaspoon is equal to one cup of green tea, so don’t use more than that in your smoothie. I enjoy the flavor of matcha with tropical smoothies made with pineapple, mango or banana.
Have you tried any of these smoothie powders? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them? Let us know in the comments section below and be sure to also download Luvo’s 7-day meal and fitness plan for more nutrition tips and recipes.