Health boosting smoothies

Health boosting smoothiesPic: Corbis

Smoothies are a quick and easy way to give your body a health boost, and their versatility means as long as you've got a blender on the worktop, you can make a super smoothie to suit your needs.

As long as you're well stocked with bananas, yoghurt and honey, all you need do is add a few superfood marvels to your blender and you can start your day feeling fit and full of energy.

For immunity
Vitamin C and beta-carotene are the perfect ingredients for an immunity-boosting smoothie, so think mango, canteloupe, green apple or lemon for a fruity base. And for a warming addition, add some grated ginger and a dash of cayenne pepper. The former is an antioxidant and antimicrobial that will help to ward off wintertime bugs, while cayenne combines B, C and E vitamins and zinc. Alternatively, swap your yoghurt base for almond milk, which is packed with zinc to boost your body's natural defences.

For stress
If you are feeling stressed out and anxious, a calming smoothie could be the answer. A blend of chopped avocado, mint and fennel with pineapple juice is an excellent way to melt away the stresses and strains of the day, thanks to a healthy dose of B vitamins to calm the nervous and digestive systems.

For energy
If your standard smoothie base consists of bananas and honey, you are already well on the way to boosting your energy levels, since the pantothenic acid found within helps to convert food into fuel. But add a tablespoon or two of peanut butter and a scoop of protein powder and you'll be ready for anything. Furthermore, if you can lay your hands on some wheat germ (rich in iron) and cinnamon, it'll give your blood oxygen levels a boost, giving you the energy you need for that all-important workout.

For pregnancy
As any expectant mum will know, what you eat during pregnancy can really give baby a boost. To your little one in the best of health, try adding orange juice and prune juice to the smoothie mix. The folate in orange juice will help to reduce the risk of birth defects, and iron and calcium-rich prune juice helps the blood to carry oxygen to the baby, as well as building those strong bones. Try adding kiwifruit and blackberries to give yourself the vitamin C you'll need to keep your body fighting fit.

For hunger
There are times when you need more from your smoothie, and a fibre-filled blend is required when hunger hits hard. Strawberries, mango and lime will give you the fibre you need, while the addition of tofu will add a hearty dose of protein. Combine with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil for essential omega-3 fatty acids, which have the added advantage of increasing your metabolic rate and burning fat.

What recipe would you recommend for smoothie newbies? Leave your comments below...