We love customizing our Primo Smoothie with all kinds of fresh fruits, veggies, and whatever else we feel like adding to introduce additional nutrients and flavor. One of our favorite things to add are seeds and nuts. They add an unmistakable earthiness to any smoothie, and when properly concocted, you can create some killer recipes that not only knock it out of the park flavor-wise, but can add some serious nutrition to your daily shake.
Our go-to for adding seeds and nuts to smoothies is a combination of flax, chia, and hemp seeds. This is more of what I consider a "utilitarian" combination - we mostly like it because of the nutrition it adds - a combination of healthy fats, additional protein and amino acids, and fiber. But it also adds a distinct nutty flavor and texture, and compliments most fruit and veggie combinations nicely. We like to buy golden flax, chia seeds, and hemp seeds from the bulk section at the grocery store, then pre-mix them together in a storage jar, adding a tablespoon or two to our smoothie every day.
But not all seeds and nuts are created equally. Some have more fat relative to protein, some are rich in heart healthy omega-3's, while some have high levels of certain vitamins and minerals. Read below for a quick overview on different types of seeds and nuts you can add to your smoothie and some basic nutrition facts about each!
Not just for growing green plant hair on novelty clay characters, although that was an awesome introduction to chia seeds for almost an entire generation. If we only were able to add one single seed or nut to our smoothie again, it would probably be chia. Chia is high in protein, and also particularly high in omega-3's which most of us do not get nearly enough of. It also has high amounts of the minerals calcium, phosphorous, and manganese. It is a bit pricey, but a great addition to any smoothie.
Hemp seeds are another one of our favorite additions to any smoothie. They are also high in protein, fiber, and have high levels of magnesium and iron, to minerals that are often lacking in athletes and can be performance inhibiting. Hemp has a decent amount of omega-3, roughly a 2:1 ratio with omega-6. There is a lot of conversation (and disagreement) about the exact desirable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, but one thing is definitely clear, for those of us who consume a western diet, we need more omega-3 and less omega-6.
Maybe our second favorite seed to add to any smoothie, flax seeds offer a great amount of plant based omega-3. They also offer a decent amount of protein by weight, and have a pretty stellar mineral profile, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, and selenium. In the grocery store, you tend to find golden flax and brown flax seeds...we prefer the golden purely for the more mild flavor profile.
Peanuts / peanut butter
When it comes to adding seeds and nuts to smoothies, the 1,000 pound gorilla in the room tends to be peanuts. We'll be blunt - peanuts are awesome, they taste awesome and they add amazing texture to nearly any smoothie. They also offer up some great vitamins and minerals like niacin (b-vitamin), vitamin e, magnesium and phosphorous. But, the dreaded but, they are very high in omega-6's and nearly devoid of omega-3s (not desirable), and have a decent amount of fat relative to protein (about 2:1). The bottom line for us with peanuts and peanut butter, no problem at all to use it from time to to time, but try not to make it a go to. And if you are going to add it to your shakes, definitely use whole peanuts or peanut butter without all that garbage added like artificial flavors, preservatives, and stabilizers. Gross.
We like almonds, and prefer them to peanuts, but many of the same rules / cautions apply. They are relatively high in fat compared to the protein they contain, and have much more omega-6 than they do omega-3. That said, they have a pretty rich and varied amount of vitamins and minerals. They are a great source of the antioxidant vitamin e and the b vitamin riboflavin. They are also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, copper, and manganese.
Another great nut for its flavor, but so-so when it comes to nutrition. Very high omega-6, modest to low amounts of omega-3s, and an overall decent amount of fat relative to protein.
Pistachios and Hazelnuts
Two other nuts to consider, mostly for their flavor and mineral contents. Again, not our favorite when it comes to fat-to-protein ratio or omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, but when used sparingly they offer some additional vitamins and minerals.