Acai Antioxidant Smoothie
Now that the holidays are over it’s time to clean it up a bit! I love incorporating smoothies into my daily routine for the hydration, natural energy from fruit, tons of antioxidants and greens. It is one of the ways I sneak greens into my boys diet and they just happen to love smoothies!
Everyone talks about antioxidants, but let’s dig into what antioxidants are and what they do for you. Antioxidants are molecules that fight damage by free radicals (unstable molecules that can harm cellular structures). Antioxidants accomplish this by donating an electron to a free radical, thus neutralizing the free radical and prevent it from causing harm. If antioxidants did not exist, free radicals would quickly destroy our cells. When the free radicals (pro-oxidants) outnumber the antioxidants, this can lead to oxidative stress.
There are various factors that can contribute to oxidative stress and excess free radicals. Some of these things include air pollution, cigarette smoke, alcohol consumption, toxins, high blood sugar, radiation, infections (by bacteria, viruses or fungi), intense or prolonged exercise, lack of physical activity, chronic stress excessive intake of antioxidants, or antioxidant deficiency. Another factor that contributes to oxidative stress is industrial vegetable oils. " Industrial vegetable oils, including canola, soybean, peanut, and safflower oils, are high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Omega-6 PUFAs are delicate and quite susceptible to damage from factors such as heat and light. Unfortunately, the very process by which industrial vegetable oils are made exposes omega-6 PUFAs to heat, metals, and other chemicals; this process oxidatively damages the fatty acids and produces “rancid” fats. However, the damage doesn’t stop there; vegetable oils are further oxidized when they are heated during the cooking process.” Kresser, C. ( 2018, June 14). What Really Causes Oxidative Damage?
Some signs of oxidative stress include fatigue, memory loss/brain fog, muscle/joint pain, wrinkles/grey hair/decreased eye sight, headaches, and susceptibility to infections. Over time, oxidative stress can lead to a vast array of diseases including (but not limited to) allergies, asthma, cancer, atherosclerosis, hypertension, high cholesterol, chronic inflammation, auto immune disorders, all types of arthritis, wrinkles, acne, eczema, psoriasis, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, Lyme disease and chronic fatigue.
So what can we do to prevent oxidative stress? Avoid sugar and processed foods, avoid toxins, incorporate daily stress remedies such as meditation, yoga, nature walks, journaling, spiritual practice, increase antioxidant consumption, and promote the production of antioxidants (for example supporting glutathione production, the master antioxidant, by eating foods to help your body make glutathione.)
So let’s increase our antioxidant consumption with this smoothie! Here are some quick facts about the antioxidant content and other benefits:
Strawberries: Strawberries contain high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols and are packed with vitamin C. Eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange. The heart shape is our first clue that this fruit is good for you and good for your heart! They help increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower blood pressure. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, manganese, folate, and potassium.
Baby spinach: Baby spinach contains high levels of many antioxidants including lutein, kaempferol, quercitin, zeaxanthin, and alpha-lipolic acid. Spinach is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals including A, C, K1, folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, and calcium. Contains high amounts of nitrates which can help moderate blood pressure levels and decreases risk of heart disease.
Wild Blueberries: Wild blueberries have 2x the antioxidant power of regular blueberries. They are especially high in anthocyanin, a flavonoid with potent antioxidant capacity. They contain fiber, vitamin C and K, mangnanese, iron, and zinc. According to Anthony William, Medical Medium, they have the highest proportion of antioxidants of any food on the planet. He also said that wild blueberries are the most powerful brain food, the most potent prebiotic and is a star at restoring the liver. In addition, wild blueberries are one of the most effective heavy metal detoxifying foods. (William, Anthony. Life Changing Foods.)
Chia seeds: Chia seeds contain antioxidants, protein, and fiber. They are a good source of iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. When doing a gram by gram comparison, chia seeds have 8x more omega 3 fatty acids than salmon, 2x more potassium than bananas and 6x more calcium than milk.
Bananas: Bananas are well known for their potassium content. Potassium can help reduce blood pressure due to its vasodilation properties. Bananas also container several types of antioxidants including dopamine and catechins. These antioxidants are linked to reduced risk of heart disease and degenerative illness. The dopamine from bananas do not cross the blood brain barrier and simply acts as a strong antioxidant.
Acai: Acai contains an abundance of the antioxidant anthocyanin. Studies using a variety of cancer cells have indicated that anthocyanins activate detoxifying enzymes, prevent cancer cell proliferation, induce cancer cell death, and have anti-inflammatory effects. Acai may improve cognitive function due to the abundance of antioxidants which may lower oxidative stress and inflammation, thus promoting brain health.
Makes one 24 oz. smoothie. Prep 5 minutes. Blending 1 minute. Total time 6 minutes.
1/2 cup strawberries (about 4-5 strawberries)
1 cup packed baby spinach (feel free to add more greens)
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 cup filtered water
1 packet frozen acai
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
Run warm water over the packet of acai for about 10 seconds and let it sit in the sink.
In a high speed blender, add the first five ingredients (1/2 cup strawberries, 1 cup baby spinach, 1/2 banana, 2 tsp chia seeds, 1 cup filtered water).
Next cut the end off the acai packet and add to the blender. Add 1 cup frozen wild blueberries.
Blend for about one minute or until thoroughly combined.
If you have any favorite supplements or green powders that you find hard to work into your routine, a great way to get them in is by adding them to your smoothie.
If you like your smoothies really cold and icy, add a few ice cubes to your smoothie. If you find that it makes your smoothie too thick and hard to blend, just add a bit more water.