According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one adult in ten gets enough fruits and vegetables every day. Federal guidelines suggest that adults get a minimum of one and a half to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables each day.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says that 9.5% of adults in the US practice yoga. That’s equal to roughly 21 Million people. Yogis tend to be more conscious of their health, but some are just as rushed to make nutritious choices as the rest of us, so smoothies have become a popular drink for this group.
What Makes Smoothies So Nutritious?
Our lifestyles are busy, and our health sometimes suffers from that fact. Luckily, smoothies of all sorts have become increasingly popular ways to get our daily fruit and veggie intake up while helping us to lose weight and boost overall health. What makes these drinks so healthy? It’s a combination of many things.
The best and most nutritiously dense form of smoothie is the green smoothie. These power-packed drinks offer both fruits and vegetables, but still taste great. However, they have to be made correctly to give you the boost you need to get your nutrients without excess calories and sugars.
The Plate Test
When you’re creating your smoothie, you want to do the plate test with your ingredients. Whether you opt for frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s important that portion sizes are kept up. If you wouldn’t sit down and eat ten strawberries, don’t put that many into your smoothie. Always make sure about half is vegetables.
Don’t forget to add protein either. For people who are practicing yoga or other athletics, protein is essential. Proteins keep the body moving and increase antibodies, along with many other functions, so finding the right protein is important, but make sure you only get so much as you would in a typical meal.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a spiritually based tradition that began in Ancient India more than 5000 years ago. Although it is a spiritual tradition, it has been adopted and used by many religions over the centuries, including atheism.
- Breath training/ respiratory health
- Stress relief
- Pain relief (especially in the lower back)
- Increased flexibility
- Cardiovascular and circulatory health
- Protection from injury
- Loss of weight
Why Yoga Students Benefit From Smoothies
The practice of yoga goes far beyond breath control and posture. It also teaches students to be mindful of their lives, including as they eat. Mindful eating involves full awareness of taste, smell, and texture as you consume your food. It acknowledges that we eat emotionally at times and helps us stop that practice.
Eating mindfully means understanding what each food you take in does for your system: how it helps or how it harms your body. Smoothies come in many shapes and sizes, and you can make them with a large variety of ingredients, so they work well with the mindful eating and yoga lifestyles.
Getting your daily vegetable servings can also help to boost calcium and magnesium in the body, both of which are important for bone and muscle health. Practicing yoga without healthy bones and muscles puts you at a higher risk of injury, so combining your practice with the right nutrients is essential.
Yoga combines well with smoothies mainly because both encourage the body toward its natural tendency to be well, versus some exercises where practitioners are encouraged to take unnatural supplements to overcome the body’s weaknesses.
10 Best Ingredients for Smoothies
Although we have talked a lot about the variety of ingredients and the components that belong in smoothies for yogis, we promised you the ten best, and we are here to deliver.
1. Coconut Water
Every great smoothie starts with a solid base. Coconut water is a perfect base for a pre or post yoga smoothie because of its hydrating properties. If coconut water isn’t your thing, try almond or coconut milk instead. Both have a natural sweetness to enhance the taste of your smoothie without taking away any health benefits.
Everyone knows that bananas are high in potassium, which makes them a perfect post-workout food. However, their health benefits go far beyond alleviating cramps. Green bananas specifically may have a wide range of health benefits from reducing infections and ulcers to healing colitis and lowering blood pressure.
Bananas have an excellent texture for smoothies and add a sweet flavor that helps to cover some of the harsh flavors that vegetables add, while also alleviating the tartness of certain fruits and berries.
The smooth texture of the avocado combined with its high content of good fat makes this little fruit a perfect addition to any yogi’s smoothie. Not only do these little guys help to lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease (something that yoga practice is already helping with), they are packed with nutrients as well.
One study showed significant results regarding lowering bad cholesterol when participants ate avocados every day for three to five weeks. The study suggested that the way we usually eat avocados, with corn chips, is taking away from their health benefits. Putting them into a smoothie is a great way to get all their nutrients.
Spinach doesn’t have to be the vinegar covered, soupy mess that your parents served you as a child. It can be an excellent, nutritious ingredient in your daily smoothie instead. Spinach is considered a superfood because of its many benefits including its calcium and fiber content. It also provides lots of vitamins A and C.
Along with the benefit of additional hydration, cucumbers bring plenty of nutrients to the table. They contain vitamins B1, K, and C, as well as potassium and magnesium. Cucumbers are an excellent addition to your smoothie for their nutritional value, but also for their texture, since their skin will add some crunch.
Although papaya isn’t a typical smoothie ingredient in the mainstream, they are incredibly beneficial and full of power-packed nutrients that your body needs. The number of vitamins and minerals contained in a single papaya is too numerous to mention, and the taste is sweet and refreshing.
Additionally, some cultures have been using papaya as a folk remedy for digestion for hundreds of years, which makes it the perfect ingredient in a pre-yoga smoothie. It can help to calm your digestive system as you participate in each asana, giving you peace of mind as well as nutrition.
We keep the tropical fruit theme going with Kiwi. It is considered one of the healthiest fruits on the planet and contains vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fibers and potassium. Vitamin E is a beneficial antioxidant that is fat soluble, making it easy to digest and more effective than some other water-soluble antioxidants.
Protein is an essential part of any smoothie, especially if you intend to use that smoothie as a meal substitute. Protein is necessary to help repair and strengthen muscles, so it’s essential for yogis. The problem is that many smoothie drinkers replace protein with the protein powders on the market, and few of them are good for you.
The best way to add protein to your smoothie is crushing up nuts, adding yogurt, or throwing in some seeds. You could get some protein from almond milk if you chose that as your base. Otherwise, try tossing in some flax or chia seeds for a texture change and some added protein in your smoothie.
9. Maca Powder
Maca is a plant that has thrived for generations high in the Andes. It is known for providing energy similarly to ginseng. It benefits yogis looking for a great smoothie because of the energy it provides, but also because of the calcium and magnesium it contains.
Maca is an ingredient in many herbal remedies, including as an immunostimulant in Peru. It is considered a superfood and is an excellent addition to your daily smoothie because of its high nutrient content. If you don’t like the grassy flavor, you can always add goji berry powder or raw cacao powder instead.
Whether you’re heading into an ultra-muggy hot yoga class or just suffering from mild inflammation for another reason, turmeric is a great herbal remedy to keep that inflammation from ruining your practice.
Turmeric can help to ease arthritis pain and has antimicrobial properties that can help to quicken the healing process after injury. It also contains antioxidants and has been known to reduce cholesterol levels. In addition to all the health benefits, turmeric adds a fun spice to your smoothie for some dimension.