Right now, cryptocurrencies may not seem like the best way to grow the value of your portfolio, but that's short-term thinking. Today, higher inflation and economic worries are pushing investors into the safest assets and away from higher risk areas like cryptocurrency. It's important to remember, though, that the current economic situation is temporary.

Cryptocurrencies still represent a significant opportunity for those who hold on for the long term. At the same time, crypto prices have dropped quite a bit, so right now is a great time to go bargain hunting for players that may grow your portfolio over time. Here are two of my favorites.

1. Ethereum

Ethereum (ETH -1.17%) is the world's second-biggest cryptocurrency by market value, so it's already a significant player. It's also a leader in decentralized applications (dApp) and non-fungible tokens (NFT). These are two key areas that could increase the use of blockchain networks over time.

But this leadership today doesn't mean Ethereum's growth story is over. In fact, it's just getting started. Though Ethereum is a leader, it's been struggling with various problems that could hurt over the long term. I'm talking about high energy use, slow transaction speed, and high fees.

A recent switch to the proof-of-stake method of validating transactions eliminated the energy use problem. Next year, Ethereum's planned release of a sharding feature should increase transaction speed and lower costs. Sharding splits up a database horizontally, relieving congestion.

As mentioned, Ethereum already is a leader. These updates could bring even more users and investors to the platform. And these updates could make Ethereum more competitive down the road as this newish industry evolves.

Ethereum has dropped 65% so far this year. At the same time, Ethereum is getting better and better. So right now, investors can scoop up this player at a bargain price, considering its future prospects.

2. Cardano

Cardano (ADA -2.23%) has something in common with Ethereum. The platform's founder was one of Ethereum's co-founders, too. Also, like Ethereum, Cardano recently completed an important update. The Vasil hard fork is meant to improve speed, security, and generally make Cardano a better place to develop and use dApps.

In addition, there's another update ahead that could increase transaction speed and general capacity in a major way. Software engineers are working on hydra heads. This is a solution that will allow certain transactions to take place off the main chain on these heads. Early testing showed that each head could handle 1,000 transactions per second. Work on this project is ongoing.

Cardano has always focused on quality over speed when it comes to launching an update or new feature. The blockchain has a peer-review system that applies to any potential change. Sure, this may slow progress a bit, but it also means fewer glitches down the road. And that's a big plus.

As for performance, Cardano, has also suffered. And like Ethereum, it's latest update didn't offer it a boost. The crypto player has lost 70% so far this year.

I don't see this decline as a reflection of Cardano's platform today or its future prospects. The crypto's outlook is just as promising as it was last year -- when it was climbing in value. That's why this looks like a good opportunity to get in on Cardano -- and in the early chapters of what may be a very exciting growth story.