Who doesn’t love a protein shake? They are fast, easy and convenient and deliver quality nutrition without sacrificing flavor or time. While your typical protein powder and water mixture can do the trick for satisfying hunger or for a post-workout snack in a pinch, adding some of these boosters to your protein shake will benefit not only your waistline, but your health and energy levels as well. “Shake” things up with your morning routine and toss in one, two, or all of these protein shake boosters for a better breakfast or superior snack.

Chia Seeds

Best known for growing into bright green pet-shaped plants, these tiny seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, providing significant levels of fiber, protein, B-vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Chia seeds absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked, giving them that signature gel-like texture. But chia’s greatest claim to fame is its impressive amounts of omega-3 fats—ounce per ounce, they have more than fish! All of the nutrients in chia seeds are health-supporting, benefiting your brain, heart, and digestive system.

RECIPE TIP

Add mild-tasting, gelatinous chia seeds a smoothie made with frozen cherries, mixed baby greens, and a squeeze of lime.

Flax Oil

Also an excellent source of omega-3s, flax oil is an easy way to tip the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio lower, in your favor (a good goal is to get as close to 1:1 as possible, rather than the 15:1 seen in the typical US diet). If you prefer using the whole flax seed in your smoothies, you’ll be getting more fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals and less omegas. However, to get the benefits of the seeds, you need to add them to your shakes pre-ground because most blenders don’t break them down enough in smoothies. If you’re using a high-quality mixer with sharp blades, put the flax seeds in first, process to a powder, and then add in the remainder of your smoothie ingredients. Flax seeds and oil are anti-inflammatory, helping prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

RECIPE TIP

Add nutty, slightly bitter flax oil to a smoothie with frozen pineapple, coconut, and vanilla extract.

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Green Super Food Powder

An easy and tasty alternative for getting your daily greens in, these powders can help support digestion, enhance your immune system, and boost energy levels. High in phytonutrients, these green powders usually include a mix of vegetables, minerals and vitamins, as well as supporting nutrients such as chlorophyll, chlorella and plant fibers.

You might also see a mixture of spirulina, barley greens, wheatgrass, green tea extract, and other concentrated green superfoods like gingko, bilberry, licorice root and milk thistle. The chlorophyll and antioxidants in most of the power-packed green super food ingredients alkalizes and cleanses the blood.

RECIPE TIP

Add sweet, slightly bitter green powder to a smoothie with yogurt, baby kale, and frozen honeydew.

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Bee Pollen

Bee Pollen is high in protein (40%) and contains all of the essential amino acids. It contains almost every vitamin and mineral we need, and is an unusually good source of choline and inositol (both part of the B vitamin complex), which are not all that abundant in the food supply. Bee pollen has been used to treat allergies, but can cause anaphylaxis in people who are allergic to it. It also may thin the blood of people who already take blood thinners.

RECIPE TIP

Add grassy, floral bee pollen to a smoothie with frozen berries, kale, and almond butter. 

Cacao Nibs

Cacao has more antioxidant flavonoids than any food, making it a great excuse to indulge in its chocolatey goodness. In fact, it has up to four times the quantity of antioxidants found in green tea! Cacao nibs can promote cardiovascular health by dilating bloods vessels, reducing blood clotting, improving circulation, and helping to regulate heartbeat and blood pressure. Cacao also contains oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, also found in olive oil, which can raise good cholesterol.

Cacao raises the level of serotonin and endorphins in the brain, two feel good hormones found in the body. Cacao is rich in a number of essential minerals, including magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.

RECIPE TIP

Add rich, acidic cacao nibs to a smoothie with frozen banana, baby spinach, and peanut butter.

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by Brianna Diorio

Oct 14, 2016

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