There are virtually limitless options in ways to mix up your juices and smoothies which begs the question “what herbs and spices for smoothies and juices are best?”
Of course, the base of healthy juices includes lots of vegetables and fruits in moderation to yield a highly nutrient dense juice or smoothie. However, a well balanced addition of herbs and spices can push their usefulness to its peak, resulting in a real super drink.
However, before you just go through your pantry and select random herbs or spices without merit, you should check their efficacy; do they actually have health benefits, or are they just tasty?
Your primary goal should be to boost your health (although taste is a welcome addition!), and your selections should reflect that.
Consider the following options to give your body the punch it needs:
Spices For Smoothies And Juices
The utility of black pepper is unimaginable! Before you shrug it off and think it’s too spicy for your liking, it’s important to realize that you’re not adding a cup of it; merely a pinch.
Available virtually everywhere in the world, by incorporating a little into your daily juicing ritual, you can expect to see some of the following benefits:
When ingested, black pepper is able to stimulate the release of gastric hydrochloric acid, facilitating the breakdown of proteins and other foods.
In cases of insufficient hydrochloric acid secretion, food takes a very long time to be digested, and may even transit into the intestines not well digested, resulting in bloating and possibly diarrhea.
Though not fully understood, it is believed to be due in part to stimulating the release of hydrochloric acid (hence, lower likelihood of undigested material being target for bacterial consumption).
Useful for a multitude of reasons, but primarily to combat oxidative stresses acting on our body daily. Antioxidants reduce or minimize damage caused by these oxidative particles.
Used for centuries to treat mild bacterial infections, especially when combined with other natural anti-biotics, such as honey, which, coincidentally, is added to smoothies and juices sometimes as a natural sweetener.
Promotes Weight Loss
Black pepper is able to increase thermogenesis, as well as stimulate the burning of fat as an energy source. It is also a mild diuretic, helping you shed excess water weight.
How To Use?
A small pinch added directly to your finished juice or smoothie is all you need. It will inevitably add a slightly spicy “kick,” but hardly unpleasant.
No list of super health promoting herbs or spices would be complete without the inclusion of cinnamon. Used for centuries, and maybe even millennia, its rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc and fiber, and gives food a pleasant “sweetish” taste, without being sweet itself.
Cinnamon has the following well-established effects on health:
Cinnamon is effective in scavenging for damaging free radical, and neutralizes them before they can harm good cells.
Keeps Blood Sugar Levels Stable
Cinnamon has become an important part of a diabetic’s health regime, since it has consistently helped them control their blood glucose levels, and lead trouble free lives.
In fact, it helps control blood sugar levels in two ways, one by improving insulin sensitivity, and two by decreasing the urge to binge on sweets. This can be very advantageous when trying to lose weight without the crash.
How To Use?
The versatility of Cinnamon enables it to be added to many different juices, and it adds a unique woody taste. It may be difficult to consume 2 grams once, so if you have juices multiple times daily, split the amount added.
Turmeric is a versatile wonder spice that has been in use for hundreds of years in Asian cooking and by herbal medicine. This brightly colored spice is related to ginger, and is used frequently in curries and similar foods requiring lots of spice.
The major health benefits of turmeric are related to its potent antioxidant ability, which has even been investigated and confirmed in scientific studies and is often called a superfood.
In fact, there is promising research that shows turmeric may play a key role in preventing cancer, as it shows immense promise in suppressing development of certain types of cancer, as well as providing support to established drugs used to treat various cancer conditions.
Consider adding it to your juices for these massive benefits:
Increases Levels Of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
Think of this as a sort of growth hormone that functions in the brain, allowing neurons to multiply, and forms new connections, helps you preserve memory and function better cognitively.
Persons with Alzheimer’s or even depression have been noted to have low levels of BDNF, thus turmeric is a very likely aid.
Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease
Turmeric helps to improve the elasticity of the blood vessel internal wall, as well as reducing levels of artery clogging plaque, decreasing the likelihood of heart attacks, strokes, or even ischemia.
Reduces Symptoms Of Joint Pain And Arthritis
Thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory effect, suffers from joint pain may notice measurable relief in symptoms.
Numerous studies have shown curcumin, a compound found in turmeric to have substantial benefits in reducing risk for cancer. Here you can read more about Turmeric and its anticancer activities.
How To Use?
Fresh turmeric can be juiced along with your other fruits and vegetables. Alternatively, you can add 1 or 2 teaspoons of the dry spice to 1 glass of juice daily to. It will dye your beverage slightly yellow but a small price to pay for bountiful health…right?
If you grew up with your grandma, you undoubtedly know the merits of adding ginger to your food… but maybe not the convenience of adding it to juice or smoothies!
In fact, if you suffer from any intestinal issues, or heartburn, ginger will quickly become a go to in your arsenal, and no- it’s not acidic, as people believe.
This wonder-spice can help you out in a pinch with the following:
Reduces Nausea Or Vomiting
If you suffer from chronic acid reflux, quite often nausea accompanies it. Consuming a little ginger, either juiced in fresh form or grated into a powder and added to your finished juice blend will help.
May Improve Blood Sugar And Decrease Risk Of Heart Disease
This is a relatively new area of study, but appears very promising. Over the course of a 12 week study, daily consumption of 2 grams of ginger daily delivered massive improvements in blood sugar levels, along with markers for cardiac health.
The more markers you are positive for, the higher your likelihood of having a serious cardiac event in the coming years.
Helps Treat Gingival Disease
How about swishing around your juice in your mouth before drinking? As weird as it sounds, that’s exactly another way to juice the benefits of ginger (pun intended).
Ginger inhibits the growth of bacteria implicated in the development of oral disease, so maybe can be utilized instead of Listerine, who knows?
How To Use?
If you’re going to be juicing the ginger root itself, a 1 inch sized piece is sufficient. However, if you will be grating and adding it directly to juices, half of a teaspoon is sufficient.
Ginger may seem extremely spicy to some, so if required start with less and gradually build appreciation for the taste.
An ancient spice used for centuries in the Far East, this seed is a staple of Indian diets around the world, and is typically consumed roasted. It has numerous health benefits, and is great to add to your juices.
Benefits of consuming cumin and adding to juices include:
The oil that gives cumin its aromatic smell is known as Cuminaldehyde, and kick starts the digestive process by stimulating salivary output.
Next, is a compound called thymol, which then bolsters the production of salivary secretions and enzymes, ensuring that your food is well digested and subsequently absorbed.
Relieves Respiratory Conditions
Surprisingly to most, cumin acts as a mild expectorant, being able to break up mucus and relieve bronchial congestion.
The presence of aromatic oils also helps to expel and loosen mucus, which also possess disinfectant properties to reduce bacterial load and possible infection.
Helps Treat Anemia
Cumin is rich in iron, which promotes healthy development of red blood cells. It also improves symptoms of low energy, and chronic fatigue as oxygen carrying potential of blood is increased.
May Help Prevent Cancer
Has significant anti-cancer and detoxifying properties, via boosting secretion of enzymes that destroy abnormal cells.
It is also rich in vitamins A and C, which are proven anti-oxidants useful in combating cancer promoting free radicals.
How To Use?
Taking just one teaspoon per day, most likely ground and incorporated into your juices is the easiest way.
Cumin will likely add an exotic taste to your vegetable-based juices and smoothies, so get ready to set your taste buds alight!
One of the most flavorful spices in the world, nutmeg is actually a seed that is still loaded with nutritional and health benefits. It is rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, and fiber.
By adding a bit of this powdered spice to your juices, you can reap the health benefits outlined below:
May Help Relieve Pain
Nutmeg functions in a way similar to menthol in how it relieves pain. It is also helpful in relieving inflammatory conditions, as well as smooth muscle pain (abdominal or organ pain).
Works Well In Managing Oral Health
Nutmeg is very effective in killing bacteria found in the mouth, which may be responsible for embarrassing bad breath or more serious conditions such as gingivitis.
In fact, many mouthwash products include nutmeg by virtue of its effectiveness.
Thanks to its high magnesium content, nutmeg has been used historically to relieve nerves and induce sleep.
Treating Pediatric Leukemia
Interestingly, nutmeg has shown promise in treating this debilitating disease, which primarily affects children.
Its essential oils and methanol like constituent has led to cancer cells committing suicide, a process known as apoptosis.
Improves Blood Pressure
Minerals contained in nutmeg have known vasodilatory effects, which allow blood vessels to expand and reduce the pressure in them, and subsequent strain on the heart.
How To Use?
A teaspoon of the ground powder added to your juice is sufficient. It will improve taste significantly, as well as offer great insurance against illness.
It is important not to overdose on nutmeg consumption, as there have been reports of people trying to get “high” from its euphoric rush following over dosage. And, of course, deaths followed.
Herbs For Smoothies And Juices
A popular herb used for its leaves since the days of Roman domination. Typically, many people now use parsley for garnishing, but it’s far more useful when grated or juiced and added to other nutritional powerhouses to make a strong healthy blend.
Parsley has demonstrated several benefits on health, including the following:
Boosts Immune Function
Parsley is reportedly able to increase T cell count, and bolster the action of lymphocytes, thanks to its many bioactive nutrients.
Anti- Inflammatory and Detoxifying Properties
Parsley aids in treatment and management of many inflammatory processes, such as arthritis and interestingly even liver inflammation and jaundice.
By helping return elevated liver enzymes to normal, detoxification of toxins resumes and health improves.
How To Use?
Just add a few parsley leaves to your juicer. Chose the amount of leaves according to your taste.
Mint gives a fresh kick to anything it’s added to, and also delivers health benefits to boot. If you’ve never experienced the health benefits of mint, you might be surprised as how many there are:
Mint leaves have an established track record of soothing indigestion and helping relieve acid heartburn. Is it any coincidence that many antacids come in mint flavor?
May Help Reduce Asthma Symptoms
Mint is a useful bronchodilator, relieves chest congestion, and can soothe the airways. However, too much can likely be an irritant to the same organs.
Boosts The Immune System
Especially useful in persons with seasonal allergies, regular consumption of mint helps to modulate the release of histamine, which signals the start of allergic reactions.
May Decrease Likelihood Of Cancer
Different from making use of anti-oxidants, enzymes contained in mint may help prevent the development of cancer, at least when consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Headaches And Nausea
Mint has been classically used to relieve headaches and upset feelings, and is still used and recommended across the world as a safe, non-drowsy alternative to other products.
How To Use?
You can either add a few mint leaves to your juicer, or add drops of 100% pure mint extract to finished juices. Either way, you will have a refreshing, energizing juice loaded with beneficial health boosters!
Basil or Ocimum basilicum, also referred to as Saint Joseph's Wort, is an herb that belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. This aromatic and pungent herb is native to India and other tropical areas of Asia.
The International journal of Agronomy and Plant Production, states that the word Basil is derived from the Greek word "basileus" that means "king" and the Oxford English Dictionary states that this herb was likely used as some type of medicine or royal unguent.
Basil is often used in traditional Tamil and Ayurvedic medicine, and Jewish folklore believes basil to give strength during fasting.
The most commercially available type of basil and one used widely in Italian cooking is Sweet basil, and it has a very strong clove scent and flavor. Lime and lemon basil has a strong citrus flavor that comes from its high concentration of limonene.
Have following a closer look at the health benefits of basil:
One study conducted at Purdue University (Juliani, H.R. and J.E. Simon et al) found basil to contain a wide range of health boosting essential oils that are rich in phenolic compounds and polyphenol antioxidants, flavonoids and anthocyanins.
Basil extract was shown to have more antioxidant activity than standard antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits, a fact documented in a study that was published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmacy Education & Research.
This flavorful herb contains compounds that might be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases and arthritis (J Gertsch et al).
Read here about anti-inflammatori effects of sweet basil.
Research presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference demonstrated that basil could improve the aging process and reduce its harmful effects.
Holy basil extract was successfully used to kill of harmful molecules and curtail the typical damage that occurs from free radicals in the heart, brain and other vital organs.
Basil is also nutrient rich and contains vitamin A, K, and C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
How To Use?
Basil is very easy to grow in small containers placed on a sunny window sill, so you can enjoy the fresh herb whenever you juice.
Thoroughly wash the leaves and remove grit from between the leaves. Tear off the leaves, roll them up into a tight bunch, and push through your juice with firmer produce, like apples or kale.
Final Thoughts About Healthy Herbs And Spices For Smoothies
By this point, it should be obvious that you would want to increase your consumption of these herbs and spices, quite simply because they work!
The taste boost that they provide to sometimes horrible tasting juices is another major perk and can help ensure you remain compliant in getting your recommended dose of nutrients every day.
Think of herbs and spices quite simply as nature’s tiny gifts to us, to spruce up the foods we consume, and keep our body functioning optimally.
On a final note, do not be intimidated trying to add as many herbs and spices as you can to your juices. It’s perfectly fine to choose just a few at the beginning, learn what taste you appreciate best, and also consider which benefit you are most looking forward to.
Now it's time to try it out for yourself.