7 Smoothie Add-Ins: Are They Worth the Cost?

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. | Aug 30th 2017 Sep 2nd 2017

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Walk into any smoothie or juice bar and there is usually a list of extras that you can ask to be added into your smoothie. But are they worth the extra cost? Some of the more common add-ins are explained.

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Bee pollen

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These small balls of pollen made by honey bees have been used as a supplement for centuries.

Add when: You are looking for an energy enhancer.

Advantages: High in vitamins, including vitamin A and almost all the B complex vitamins.

Tastes: Can have a hint of sweet flavor like honey.

Beware: Should be avoided by those who are pregnant or who have allergies or asthma.

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Protein powder

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Protein powders are frequently consumed by athletes to improve strength.

Add when: You are active and are looking for increased muscle mass.

Advantages: Protein powder can increase strength and power.

Tastes: Protein powders vary widely. Some are plant based and others are made from dairy. They also come in a variety of flavors.

Beware: Protein powders can be very high in calories. Excessive amounts of protein supplementation has also been associated with kidney problems.

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Chia seeds

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Chia seeds have been used for centuries as food and for medicinal purposes.

Add when: You want an energy or nutrient boost or want to lower your blood sugar.

Advantages: Chia seeds are nutrient dense. They also contain a high amount of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Beware: Chia seeds are known to be safe for general consumption.

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Ginger

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Ginger is not only a great tasting spice, but also contains gingerol, a substance known to help with nausea.

Add when: You are looking for a savory taste to your smoothie or when you have an upset stomach.

Advantages: Ginger has a long history of helping with digestive problems including nausea and motion sickness.

Beware: Ginger may be a safe and effective treatment for nausea during pregnancy. However, you should check with your medical provider before using any spices as medicine.

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Matcha powder

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Matcha is finely grown powder made from shade grown tea leaves.

Add when: You are looking for a caffeine or antioxidant boost.

Advantages: Green tea is one of the healthiest teas to drink. It has been known to prevent cancer, help with gum disease, and promote weight loss.

Beware: If you are allergic to tea, you should avoid matcha powder. Also, matcha tea is typically very bitter so sometimes it is mixed with a lot of sugar to balance the flavor.

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Cayenne pepper

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Cayenne (chile) pepper is used to spice up food and for weight loss. Capsaicin is the active substance in chile peppers.

Add when: Not recommended.

Advantages: Cayenne peppers have been known to help fight cancer, inflammation, and obesity.

Beware: While some say cayenne pepper will increase your metabolism and help you burn fat, according to the Mayo Clinic, no foods burn fat. Also, when taken in excess, the active ingredient in chile peppers can have side effects on the cardiovascular system.

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Probiotic boost

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Probiotics can be added to a smoothie by adding yogurt, fermented foods, or in a capsule form.

Add when: You want to improve your digestion or are taking an antibiotic.

Advantages: A number of health benefits are known to come from consuming probiotics such as an improved intestinal tract and immune system.

Beware: The concentration of probiotics in supplements varies tremendously.

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Bottom line

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Most smoothies are inherently healthy, especially if they are made with fresh fruit, yogurt, and only small amounts of sugar. Smoothie add-ins can be expensive and the quality is sometimes unknown. While some supplementation may be helpful, kicking up the smoothie with every available add-in is not always wise.