“The human brain is at particularly high risk of damage by free radicals because of its high degree of metabolism compared to other tissues, while lacking the levels of antioxidant protection found elsewhere in the body ” – Dr. David Perlmutter
Antioxidants are incredibly important because they help protect your cells against free radicals, which are thought to play a significant role in numerous health issues.
You’ve probably heard a lot about the fact that antioxidants can be found in foods and supplements like green tea, vitamin C, vitamin E, CoQ10 and alpha-lipoic acid. But did you know that berries contain high amounts of antioxidants? And when consumed on a regular basis, can be extremely beneficial to your body and in particular your brain.
The antioxidants within the berries help keep these unstable free radical molecules that circulate around our body, under control. Although free radicals are beneficial in small amounts, they can damage our cells when their numbers get too high, causing oxidative stress.
For example, let’s take a look at blueberries; one of the most impressive health benefits of blueberries is its ability to enhance brain health. The high levels of gallic acid, found in blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress. There have been many studies suggesting that eating blueberries could improve memory, cognition and even promote healthy brain aging.
The same can be said for other berries, such as, blackberries and raspberries, which is why I have chosen this simple and delicious recipe below, combining all three types of berries to create brain boosting nutrition, that helps keep you focused throughout the day.
This particular smoothie is not only easy on the gut and high in antioxidants, but it is also packed with healing nutrients for each part of your body. Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients and the benefits;
Almond milk is naturally rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E. Although you can easily purchase almond milk in any store these days, I highly recommend you make your own at home, as it’s simple, much tastier and by doing this you are ensuring that you truly get all that vitamin E goodness, instead of the 1% in the processed kind. Be sure to buy raw unprocessed almonds, because unfortunately not all almond manufacturers are selling you high-quality almonds and if you are going to go to the effort of homemade nutrition, then you may as well use the best ingredients possible. First, remove the skin. You can do this by soaking the almonds in water for 8–12 hours or overnight. The soak softens the skin, allowing you to peel it off easily when you rinse the almonds. Next, put the almonds in a blender with 4 cups of water and mix until smooth. Finally, remove the solids by straining the mixture through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag.
Bananas contain a convenient source of energy, which is perfect for right before a workout. They are also rich in vital post-workout nutrients that can help repair muscle tissues and balance water retention. High in several key vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, vitamin C and manganese, they also contain small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium. Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium in the world, which is crucial for those who are physically active. Potassium acts as an electrolyte, promotes circulatory health, helps manage blood flow and hydration levels within the body and makes it possible for oxygen to reach your cells. It helps lower blood pressure by counteracting the effect of sodium within the blood to keep your heart working efficiently. Potassium also assists in the prevention of muscle cramps following exercise and helps heal and build muscle more effectively. This makes it an especially important nutrient for anyone who is physically active as well as those recovering from an injury.
Spinach is high in vitamin A, which helps our skin and mucous membranes to repel various kinds of bacteria and viruses effectively. Vitamin A is good for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair, therefore loading up on more greens like spinach should help reduce the risk of hair loss and protect against infections. The vitamin C found in spinach is known to have the ability to prevent wrinkles and protect us from eye diseases (due to the presence of lutein), prenatal health problems and cardiovascular diseases. Spinach provides you with the required levels of magnesium in your body which helps you to generate energy for your day to day chores. Spinach is also a great source of foltate, a nutrient that helps your body turn food into usable energy. Moreover, making your body more alkalised can help you keep energised through the day and spinach is one vegetable that is alkaline in nature.
Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are among the healthiest foods you can eat, as they are loaded with antioxidants; contain several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and Manganese, help reduce inflammation, have shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, reduce markers associated with tumor growths in certain types of cancer and have been found to improve the arterial function in those that have metabolic syndrome. They are not only delicious and nutritious, but as you can see they also provide a number of impressive health benefits. The antioxidants found within berries are anthocyanins, ellagic acid (helps to alleviate wrinkles and other signs of skin damage from sun exposure) and resveratrol. In addition to protecting your cells, these plant compounds may reduce disease risk. One study showed that blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruits. They may improve blood sugar and insulin response when consumed with high-carbohydrate foods. Berries contain fiber, which can help to increase feelings of fullness, as well as reduce appetite, so if you are looking for a healthy weight loss aid that is low in calories, but high in flavour, choosing berries when you get those sweet cravings, may help you achieve your goals. By including them in your diet on a regular basis, you can improve your health in a very enjoyable way.
CHIA / FLAXSEED
These Omega-3 seeds truly make the perfect addition to green smoothie recipes, with their high fibre, protein and anti-inflammatory properties. Having chia seeds in the morning in your smoothie is a great way to fill up and keep your blood sugar stable until lunch time, giving you lasting energy and freeing you from junk food cravings while you’re out and about. Several nutrients, including magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and thiamine can be found in Flaxseeds and just two tablespoons per day can give you many benefits such as;
- Magnesium helps improve mood and sleep.
- Manganese plays a role in collagen production and promotes skin and bone health.
- Phosphorus helps form cell structures and supports bone health.
- Copper is involved with energy and collagen production and is needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.
- Thiamine also plays a role in energy production, and helps support the nervous system as well.
It’s a great idea to alternate these seeds in your smoothies, so make sure to switch them up for maximum benefits. Also, it is important to note that when buying flaxseeds you should always choose the whole seed version and grind them yourself before use. The reason being; pre-ground flaxseed has been exposed to oxygen longer; oxygen causes polyunsaturated fats to break down and oxidise, which can make the product rancid and of little benefit to the body. The same can be said for heat and light, therefore always store your flaxseeds in a cool and dark place.
- 1 Cup Almond Milk (or milk of your choice)
- 1 Banana
- 1 Cup Spinach (Rinsed & De-Stemmed)
- 1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Berries (Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries)
- 1 Tablespoon Chia or Flaxseeds
Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender, mix until it is smooth, pour into your favourite glass and simply enjoy. If you find this smoothie too thick, you can simply add water until it is the consistency you prefer.
As with all smoothies, if you are adding a sweetener it is always best to stick to the natural kind like Raw Organic Honey, Medjool Dates, Coconut Sugar or Stevia Leaf. It is important to also rotate your greens for maximum nutritional benefit, so if you choose kale one day or week then choose spinach the next, arugula the next and so on and so on.
For a selection of high quality Organic Superfoods made in Mexico, check out our store and start making those healthy antioxidant smoothies today.
Remember…YOUR PATH TO HEALTH STARTS HERE…a small change today can mean a big impact tomorrow. You can find the ingredients for this recipe by clicking on the direct links above.
Healthy Options Market...helping you begin your journey to a healthier new you, with the best superfoods and health products that Mexico has to offer.
The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Healthy Options Market. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright. They are solely intended to spark discussion and the thought process behind issues pertaining to general health, wellness and are for sharing knowledge and information on research only. They are not medical advice. Always seek the advice of a Professional Healthcare Provider when making any decisions regarding your health.