As much as I’d love to spend my mornings simmering steel cut oatmeal or preparing a tofu scramble with spinach and sliced tomatoes, my day usually starts very early. I get up early to work out and prepare for a busy office day.
To ensure that I start the day right, nutritionally speaking, I prep for a smoothie at night and simply blend it up the next morning before I dash to the car.
After a year studying functional foods at the University of South Florida School of Medicine’s Metabolic Cardiology Program, I learned that food has predictable effects on our health.
Here’s what I usually have set up in my blender before I go to bed:
- 1 Tbs walnuts. Walnuts are a miracle of nature that can lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, provide omega-3, and improve the function of the inner lining of arteries called the endothelium.
- 1 Tbs raw cacao powder. Many studies have shown that cocoa, the heated form of raw cacao, improves endothelial function and delays heart disease and diabetes. I prefer a raw organic source and the chocolate taste it adds is a winner.
- 2 Tbs ground flax seeds. According to the National Academy of Sciences, just 2 Tbs of flax seeds can provide all the essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) that we need in a day, in the proper ratio. Flax also adds fiber and has been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease heart attacks and death.
- 1 scoop organic grass juices and dried greens. Although I always have some fresh kale, spinach or other greens in my smoothie, I add a scoop of organic green powders that also has probiotics in it. Probiotics have recently been shown to improve athletic performance and lower blood pressure.
- 3 oz. pomegranate juice or 2 Tbs. seeds. Pomegranate is an ancient healing food, but recent studies have found that it lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, improves endothelial function, and improves the function of HDL cholesterol to heal arteries.
- ½ cup blueberries. Blueberries are known as “brain berries” because they improve memory and slow dementia, but they are also effective for artery health. They have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve endothelial function.
Although this may seem like a long list, these items are easily found in most kitchens. All you need to add in the morning is ice, purified water, or a non-dairy milk like non-GMO soy, and a handful of a green leafy vegetables.
On days I plan a hard workout, I’ll add a scoop of a raw, plant-based protein powder available from many high-quality manufacturers. Although I do not anticipate the NIH funding a large trial of the Whole Heart smoothie versus a donut and pumpkin latte, your body will let you know you made the right decision as you enjoy health and energy to power you through your busy day.