The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Make a Supercharged Smoothie for Brain Power

Start your day with a high-protein brain-boosting smoothie rich in berries to improve cognitive function and flight inflammation.
Blueberry smoothie in a glass jar with a straw and sprig of mint with fresh berries.

Q. Joe described his morning breakfast health drink on the radio but I wasn’t able to write it down. I would appreciate knowing the ingredients, quantities and process to make it. Terry indicated it only took 5 minutes to make and had frozen berries and protein in it.

I would very much like to try this drink. I thought you had said the recipe was easily available online, but I have not been able to locate it. Please make this smoothie formula available for others to try.

A. We developed Joe’s Brain Boosting Smoothie several years ago. The video at the top of this article demonstrates the ingredients and the way to make the smoothie.

The reasoning behind the smoothie is to provide adequate high-quality protein plus the benefits of berries. There is substantial evidence that blueberries in particular can help preserve cognitive function (Gerontology, online, Aug. 16, 2012). In this review, the author points out that:

“Evidence is accumulating that consumption of blueberries may be one strategy to forestall or even reverse age-related neuronal deficits, as well as their subsequent behavioral manifestations, in order to increase healthy aging. Research suggests that the polyphenolic compounds found in blueberries exert their beneficial effects either through their ability to lower oxidative stress and inflammation or directly by altering the signaling involved in neuronal communication. These interventions, in turn, may protect against age-related deficits in cognitive and motor function.”

We often add blackberries and raspberries to the blueberries in the smoothie. They too have anthocyanidins (colorful polyphenols) similar to those found in blueberries.

If you want to boost the amount of protein in the smoothie, you can add egg white powder and/or pasteurized egg whites. Frozen bananas add a little sweetness and texture, and we often add freshly ground flaxseed as well, for more omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory lignans. Some people don’t like the slightly gritty texture that flaxseed adds, though, so check it out to determine your own preferences.

Here is our modified recipe:

Joe’s Brain Boosting Smoothie 2015

  • 1 teaspoon fish oil
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries
  • If using fresh berries: 1 cup crushed ice
  • cup plain yogurt
  • cup pomegranate or cherry juice
  • cup pasteurized egg whites (or roughly 4 eggs’ worth)
  • 4 tablespoons whey powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

Years ago, a caller to our radio show offered his own smoothie recipe that he drinks to keep his cholesterol under control. He was kind enough to share it with us.

 Julius’s Cholesterol-Lowering Orange Smoothie

Put orange juice (4-8 oz.) and a diced banana or peach into a 16 oz jar, cap tightly and shake. Then add 1/3 cup raw rolled oats and 1 Tablespoon ground flax meal. Cap once again, shake, let sit for 15 or 20 minutes. The smoothie can be frozen and will stay cool for hours after coming out of the freezer. Julius reports that consuming this smoothie 5 days a week for a year lowered his cholesterol by 40 points.

We heard from one mother that this recipe was surprisingly effective:

“My 15-year-old son had low HDL and a poor cholesterol profile at his checkup. So for ten months I have had him drink my version of the cholesterol-reducing smoothie I found on your website. He had the smoothie 4 or 5 days a week and loved it. I use frozen unsweetened strawberries, orange juice, ground flaxseed and oat bran.

“In June I asked the pediatrician if he would order blood work so I could see if the smoothie helped raise my son’s HDL and improve his other blood work. It did. Now his HDL is 34 and his total cholesterol is 138, with LDL of 92. That makes the ratio of LDL to HDL much better, under 3.”

We are great believers in starting your day with a really healthy breakfast that is low in processed carbohydrates (no pancakes, no waffles and no Pop-Tarts!). While we do not frown on eggs, we do think that getting egg whites (powdered or pasteurized) along with whey powder plus yogurt and berries in Joe’s Brain Boosting Smoothie is a great way to start the day (see the video at the top for details or check out the book offer below). For other really healthy breakfast ideas, our special Beet Juice Smoothie (for those with high blood pressure) or two weeks of healthy and delicious meals and recipes may be just the ticket. You may want to check out our 174-page book, Recipes & Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy to learn more.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Recent research has linked Vitamin K found in green leafy veg to slowing of cognitive decline.
Good enough reason to add greens to your smoothies.

I have a smoothie about once a week. I use whatever 100% fruit juice I have on hand, Spirutein protein powder-since I can’t tolerate dairy products, frozen strawberries, sometimes I add blueberries, greens powder, and a touch of carob powder- since I also can’t tolerate chocolate. I thaw the berries slightly so they puree better. This makes about 12 oz. and fills me up until time for lunch. It’s delicious and I don’t have to worry about future digestive issues due to consuming any dairy or chocolate or bananas. It seems they all produce an enzyme when they are digested that my body does not like. Since I’ve avoided them I have felt 100% better.

This sounds very like the smoothie I created a few years ago. I drank one every day for a couple of years. Then I realized that the flax seed was giving me serious diarrhea on a daily basis. Now I get my fish oil by the tablespoon without anything else. I tried whey powder and didn’t like it at all. That much yogurt, I think, aggravated the diarrhea.

I now eat my eggs whole. Since it’s not the cholesterol we eat that is the problem, I don’t worry about egg yolks. I prefer my blueberries in a solid form. My IBS seems to be a lot better since I got off the liquid breakfast. Plus I spend a lot less time washing dishes.

How many servings does one recipe make?

I make a smoothie once a week to shovel more greens into my husband. Latterly I have been using cilantro, about two cups, a cup of another green, baby kale yesterday, half of a small avocado, ten slices of frozen banana, yesterday I had fresh blueberries, put in a handful. I have a button on the blender that says smoothies. I am getting close to perfect, think next week I will use some vanilla extract. Maybe a few walnuts. Between the avocado and the frozen fruit, it has a pleasing thickness.

Two days a week I juice, also to get more nutrients into him, but I drink it too, as I do the smoothie. I use whatever green stuff I have in the house, leaves, green pepper, cucumber, also tomato, and some fruit. It is winter so the fruit is usually an apple or orange. I like to use raw cranberries too.

We save the pulp to be used in soups, mainly, but I also add some to my lunch salads. I cannot see throwing all that goodness away.

Forgot the liquid in the smoothie. I use coconut milk or coconut creamer (which I prefer) and just cover the greens. My smoothies are for the two of us. Ditto on the juice; however, there, no particular quantities; just what I have on hand and what seems to be enough.

I make a similar banana-berry smoothie each morning. Here’s my recipe:
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen cherries or berries
5-8 raw spinach leaves
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp. cocoa powder (no sugar)
1 tsp. flax seed
1 scoop yellow pea protien powder
1 tbsp. almond butter
1/2 cup water (may need more or less to get texture you like)
This tastes delicious and keeps me full all morning!

I would appreciate information about the caloric content of this brain boosting breakfast smoothie if someone has figured it out. Is one person expecting to drink the full amount every morning? This looks to be close to a quart of smoothie and many calories. Please advise. Thanks…

Can this Smoothie be stored in the refrigerator rather than preparing it daily and for how long?

Is there a version for people who are lactose intolerant? With the whey protein and yogurt it would be not so appetizing.

I occasionally make a similar smoothie with cooked beets, add a few raspberries….beautiful color…. then tell my family it’s a raspberry smoothie. It’s delicious

It would be really helpful if this recipe included nutritional stats and calories. It seems like it would be high in sugar with both the berries and the juice in it. Also, is this for just one smoothie? Seems like it might be enough for 2. Thanks,

How many servings is this recipe supposed to make?

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