13 Pairings That Make Your Weight-Loss Smoothies Even Better
By Alexandra Duron
If there’s one thing power couples like Beyoncé and Jay-Z and their “Drunk in Love” world domination prove, it’s that some things are just better together.
The rule even applies to what you choose to put in your weight loss smoothies each morning. See, some ingredients work best à deux by boosting each others’ nutrient absorption or improving taste or texture.
“There are certain foods that have synergistic relationships with another,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, health influencer and blogger for Better Than Dieting. So although the foods may be awesome on their own—think superfoods like kale and berries—they may be even stronger as a part of a pair, she says. With that in mind, we turned to nutrition experts to get a few of their favorite dynamic duos. Here, the ingredient pairs that help your smoothie help you.
Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies
Teatime isn't just an afternoon activity and tea doesn't have to be sipped alone. Rather than use heavy milk or yogurt for the base of your smoothie, mix things up for summer and opt for green tea instead. Foods that are rich in vitamin C like kiwi (it has a higher concentration of the nutrient than an orange) help boost the absorption of catechins from green tea—antioxidants that help fry fat and turn it into energy. You'll need that for the steamier months!
This duo hits you with a one-two punch of antioxidants and lean protein and, as an added bonus, the cottage cheese thickens the smoothie to an almost milkshake-like consistency, says Palinski-Wade. Consider us sold. Breakfast or dessert, this smoothie gets the green light.
The vitamin D in tofu will help boost absorption of bone-healthy calcium from the blackberries. Plus, like cottage cheese, tofu thickens up your smoothie and also helps counter some of the tartness from the blackberries, Palinski-Wade adds. The natural protein content of the smoothie will also allow you to ditch belly-bloating whey powders.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, blogger for Better Than Dieting
Sure, kale is a superfood, but that doesn't mean it's great at everything. It needs a sidekick! The vitamin C in strawberries enhances the absorption of kale’s iron content—and this could be particularly important for any vegetarians that may not be getting enough of the nutrient, says Taub-Dix.
Carrots aren't the only eye protectors; swap your snack time veg for this morning smoothie for the same benefits without all the chomping. This duo will give you a boost before you even get to work. The healthy fat in avocados enhances the antioxidant lutein in spinach to boost eye health—it may keep you safe from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts—both of which may lead to impaired vision and blindness—according to the American Optometric Association.
Frozen bananas are the best secret of the smoothie world; they give your smoothie a milkshake-like consistency that's perfect for banishing those stubborn sweet tooth-induced cravings. Add some almonds to keep your energy level high well until lunchtime; the fiber and protein in these nuts help slow down the absorption of natural sugar from bananas, keeping blood glucose levels more stable, says Taub-Dix. Buh-bye sugar crash!
Nancy Teeter, RDN, nutritionist at Miraval Resorts
If this sounds like an unlikely pairing to you, just imagine them blended up with a frozen banana, some peanut butter and a splash of almond milk. You won't even taste the leafy greens. Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts help boost absorption of vitamin K found in spinach, according to Teeter. Vitamin K is a triple threat that helps with cell growth, blood circulation, and keeps the bones strong.
Channel the taste of classic holiday pies—in the healthiest way possible: a smoothie. The unsaturated fat found in pecans helps with the absorption of the pumpkin’s vitamin A content, which supports the skin, immune system and mucous membranes. Just three ounces of canned pumpkin provides triple the daily value of the vitamin, says Teeter. Add some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice for a dessert-inspired start to the day.
If you’re unfamiliar with this combo, don’t write it off just yet. Cayenne enhances the sweetness of the cocoa, and its flavonoids work as antioxidants that help fight inflammation. And research suggests that capsaicin, an active ingredient in cayenne, might help lower blood pressure, fight fat and suppress appetite. Plus, it may also slightly boost metabolism, says Teeter. Blend them together with a frozen sliced banana and some almond milk for a breakfast smoothie that tastes like frozen hot chocolate.
+ Soft Tofu
Make your smoothie reflect the changing season by using citrus as your primary fruit. The ascorbic acid, an immune-system protector, in tangerines helps the body absorb iron from tofu. And Teeter says the spongy stuff contains 40 percent of the daily needs of the nutrient, so consider it a relatively solid source. For a childhood treat-inspired drink, blended it with some vanilla plant-protein powder. The tangerine and vanilla combine to make a grown-up version of a Creamsicle.
Angela Onsgard, RDN, nutritionist at Miraval Resorts
The medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil may help increase magnesium absorption from hemp seeds. This mineral not only helps with sleep issues and bone density, but also slashes atherosclerosis and hypertension risk, Onsgard says. Don't let the fat in coconut oil scare you off. This healthy fat not only gives your smoothies an indulgent texture, but also helps whittle your middle.
Can't get away this year? Channel the tropics with this slimming and satisfying morning smoothie. The monounsaturated fat in avocados helps with fat-soluble (and vision-protecting, cell growth-supporting) vitamin A absorption from papaya—a fruit that also happens to contain twice the daily recommendation of vitamin C, Onsgard says.
Kale might add color to your smoothie, but if you blend up the right ingredients, you won’t taste the green addition. Combine almond butter, almond milk, a sliced frozen banana, cocoa powder and a handful of kale for a peanut butter cup-inspired smoothie. Kale contains a hefty dose of both vitamin A and vitamin K—206 percent of the daily value of the former and 684 percent of the daily value of the latter—and the monounsaturated fats in almond butter help boost absorption of these two nutrients, says Onsgard.
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