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Before I started my "real food" journey, I had no idea what antioxidants were- but I knew they were good. I think that is the case for most people. "A great source of antioxidants" is printed in bold lettering on the packaging of healthy products, so it must be good. So, what the heck is an antioxidant? what does it do? and why is good for us?
What are they? In a nutshell: Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phyto-chemicals) and enzymes. They naturally occur in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Fruits and vegetables with dark or brightly colored skin have the most antioxidants!
What do they do, and why are they good for us? Essentially, antioxidants prevent oxidation within the body. (They also play roles outside of the body- but we're going to limit this discussion to the role they play within the body.) In today's world, we are constantly being bombarded with chemical additives, airborne toxins, and a whole slew of junk. Even if you eat organically, and are critical about what you expose yourself to- they're unavoidable. When we are exposed to toxic matter, our bodies produce free radicals. Antioxidants work by "neutralizing" free radicals, which can cause damage to our cells (causing cancer, and an array of other diseases). They do this by either stabilizing the unstable molecule, or removing it completely.
So, since we are exposed to the free-radical-creating toxins EVERY DAY, it's important that we get antioxidants every day. What I do: blend up the darkest fruits and greens I have, and made a smoothie of it. It's beneficial just to make a point to eat some dark or brightly colored fruits and vegetables each day. Here is my go-to smoothie that I drink every morning. I use measurements in this recipe, but they don't have to be exact. You may want your smoothie to be a different consistency than mine.
- 1 & 1/3 cups of organic dark leafy greens (I use kale or spinach)
- 1/3 cup of organic dark berries (I use wild blueberries)
- 1/2 cup of organic yogurt (I make my own- recipe here)
- 1 scoop of organic wheatgrass powder (this one is the BEST)
- 10 tabs of spirulina
- 2 tablespoons of organic cacao powder
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of organic red palm oil
- 1/3 cup spring water
- 3 tablespoons of organic honey (I use raw, local honey)
Best of all, it's toddler approved! Me and my daughter drink this smoothie for breakfast every morning.
Let me know if you try it!