Next time you make a smoothie in your blender, try one of these five super healthy smoothie toppings recommended by registered dietitian Kim Hoban.
1. Chia Seeds
These little seeds pack a huge nutritional punch. "Just two tablespoons contain about 10 grams of fiber and almost five grams of protein," says Hoban. "Chia is also one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk for many chronic diseases including heart disease and certain cancers."
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Seeds make great smoothie toppings because they offer an extra nutritional boost of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. According to Hoban, one ounce of pumpkin seeds has five grams of fiber and five grams of protein. "They are a rich source of zinc, which is important for immune function, sleep, mood, and more," she says. Plus, their crunchy texture adds a nice contrast to your creamy drink.
3. Pomegranate Seeds
For an extra pop of color and juicy crunch, reach for this fruit. "Pomegranate arils [the seed pod inside a pomegranate] contain fiber, potassium—key for a strong heart and muscles—and vitamin K, which is necessary for proper blood clotting," says Hoban. Pomegranates are also an antioxidant powerhouse.
4. Goji Berries
This little red berry, which looks like the cousin of a raisin, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years thanks to the fruit's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. "Ounce for ounce, goji berries contain more vitamin C than oranges, plus they contain other antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like zinc and iron," says Hoban. "They can also be a great way to add some plant-based protein to a smoothie because the bright little berries have four grams of protein per ounce."
5. Cacao Nibs
If you're itching for your chocolate fix, try adding some cacao nibs on top of your smoothie. "This raw form of dark chocolate has a more bitter taste than its milk chocolate counterparts, but it's loaded with heart-healthy antioxidants," says Hoban. "Cacao also boasts high levels of magnesium, which is beneficial to heart, muscle, bone, and brain health."
There's really no limit to what you can use for smoothie toppings. They're a great way to enhance the nutritional profile of your favorite frozen concoction and really make it your own. So the next time you're in the kitchen and your blender is begging for use, have some fun with your smoothie!