You’ve heard the argument for getting your 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but maybe you need another reason to choose an apple over a Snickers bar and steamed veggies over buttered bread. In addition to weight loss, clearer skin, and a better feeling body, fruits and vegetables contain natural antioxidants that fight aging. The free radical theory of aging states that we age because our cells accumulate free radical damage from exposure to smoking, air pollutants, the sun, and chemicals. To fight premature aging of the cells you can eat foods high in antioxidants that counteract and fight free radicals.
Next time you go shopping toss these antioxidant rich foods in your basket and eat to good health!
This tree-like veggie is known in the health community for providing the most concentrated source of vitamin C, a premier antioxidant nutrient. Vitamin C provides support of the body’s oxygen metabolism and lowers the risk of chronic inflammation and cancer risk. If that wasn’t enough, broccoli contains several carotenoids, which function as key antioxidants.
You may skip over these fruits, but apricots pack a powerful punch of antioxidants including carotenoids and vitamin A, which is needed for cell growth and immune system function. This fruit is also good for your vision, full of potassium, and contains a healthy serving of fiber.
These fruits may already be your favorite topping for yogurt and granola or a sweet treat after dinner, but these small berries provide the body with specific antioxidants that can’t be found in any other food. In addition to high levels of vitamin C and anthocanines, raspberries contain ellagitannins, which make up 50 percent of a raspberries antioxidant effect.
This tiny fruit is packed full of queritrin and ellagic acid, which fight off the body’s cancerous cells to prevent cancer from developing. Try to eat an organic version of this fruit or drink cherry juice for your daily dose of these cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Contrary to the popular belief that this water-packed summer treat is made up of only water and sugar, watermelon is actually a nutrient dense food that is full of antioxidants. This melon is full of vitamin C and lycopene, which is associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
This yummy vegetable contains some of the most powerful, polyphenol antioxidants including quercetin, which fights against cancer and heart disease, rutin which is anti inflammatory and anti-allergenic, and anthocyanins that help with urinary tract health, memory function, and graceful aging.
Probably one of the most commonly known antioxidant rich foods, these berries do pack a powerful punch of health, especially considering their small size. One cup of natural, wild blueberries contains more antioxidant capacity than 20 other fruits and vegetables. For blueberries their antioxidant power comes from the blue pigment in the berries, which protects against inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, and other degenerative diseases.
This leafy green is already loved for its high levels of fiber, potassium, and multiple vitamins. In addition to being full of healthy goodness, spinach is full of the carotenoids luten and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from damage, fight against cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration.
9. Kidney Beans
You may already love beans as a source of protein, fiber, and nutrients, but kidney beans are also exceptionally rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that helps fight aging and the presence of free radicals in the body.
You may already know that oranges are high in vitamin C, but this particular vitamin is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body. It works to prevent damage inside and outside the cells to prevent colon cancer. In addition it can reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
40 Quick Healthy Snacks
- Trail mix: Mix dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and a handful of real dark chocolate chips
- Fresh fruit: Whatever deliciousness is in season – our selection this week is apples, oranges, and strawberries
- Dried Fruit: Raisins, dried berries, dried apple slices
- Salad: If your veggies are pre-washed you can put this together very quickly. As well, salad can be preassembled. Simply add protein and dressing at serving time.
- Veggies: carrots, radishes, sugar snap peas, celery, peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes
- Steamed veggies: Top them with cheese or chopped hard-boiled eggs
- Eggs: Nature’s fastest protein – boil, scramble, poach or fry – eggs make a great topper for other “fast foods”
- Yogurt Parfait: Top your homemade yogurt with fruit and granola
- Cheese: Opt for a healthy version without additives and artificial colors
- Smoothies: Throw fruits, veggies, yogurt and your milk of choice into the blender. Add a little pure vanilla and some honey. We like to freeze fruit for this purpose to make a rich thick shake.
- Homemade granola cookies
- No-bake haystack cookies
- Hummus: Serve the dip with veggie sticks, homemade crackers, or tortillas
- Applesauce: Try topping it with homemade granola and vanilla yogurt for a quick no-cook “apple crisp”
- Chocolate Milk
- Apples with natural peanut butter
- Frozen Yogurt Berries: Toss well-washed berries in homemade vanilla yogurt. Place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours for a cold, healthy treat
- Pancakes or Waffles: Top with fruit for a nutrition boost
- Couscous: This speedy grain only requires the addition of boiling water or broth. Let it sit for 5 minutes, covered, and you have an instant hearty side dish. Add some steamed veggies and lean protein to turn it into a one dish meal
- Cottage cheese: Top homemade cottage cheese with fresh fruit
- Home-canned food: Meals like chili, soup, and spaghetti sauce can be pressure canned at home for a delicious healthy “fast food meal”
- Fruit Salad: Top it with nuts and a honey-sweetened yogurt for a protein boost
- Dill Pickles: Home-canned, of course
- Ants-on-a-log: Celery sticks stuffed with natural peanut butter then topped with raisins
- Quick Greek Salad: Chopped cucumber, peppers and cherry tomatoes with feta cheese and vinaigrette
- Homemade Fruitsicles: Puree fruit that is overripe, then freeze it in popsicle forms – strawberry-banana is a favorite combo here
- Savory snack mix: Popcorn and nuts sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spices
- Tzatziki: This yummy Greek garlic and yogurt dip is a satisfying snack with homemade crackers or veggies
- Medjool dates and almonds
- Frozen grapes
- Homemade gazpacho: Puree tomatoes, peppers, onions, jalapenos, and other seasonal veggies. Keep in the fridge and serve cold.
- Quick Banana Nut Cookies: Mash 2 overripe bananas well. Stir in 1 cup of steel-cut oats and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Latte: Make a delicious latte with a homemade creamer
- Mexican Black Bean Salad: (you can use a can of rinsed organic black beans or beans that you cooked yourself previously) 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers, some fresh cilantro, and lemon juice
- Green Apple Salad: Chopped green apple, red grapes, and walnuts sprinkled with a dressing made from honey, lemon juice and cinnamon
Wake, smoothie, move, repeat. Wake, smoothie, move, repeat.
Green juices or smoothies have become part of everyday vernacular, almost as ubiquitous as a daily caffeine hit, among the health conscious anyway. But despite nutritious smoothies being a buzzword for years now (green smoothie is one of the biggest “trending” words in 2015), its widespread fame hasn’t changed the fact it’s rare for daily greens to be well executed.
And, here’s the clincher, because of this, it actually has little or none of the desired effects on your health and energy.
It’s touted as your daily equaliser, an input of nutrient dense and enzyme-rich liquid that can help make you feel great and perhaps help you look it too. It has the potential to deliver easily accessible nutrition to your system and can help you detoxify. If your health is in “credit”, then a green smoothie/juice can further create a bit of a buffer to nutritional and life stresses.
While the idea of grabbing a pre-mixed or pre-powdered greens together with a new, trendy milk or “mylk”, appears to be an efficient way of throwing in the good stuff while getting optimum benefits, the truth is it probably isn’t. There are improvements to be made, and lots of them.
GREEN SMOOTHIE MISTAKES
1. Using pre-mixed, pre-powdered greens and berries
There are an abundance of these fruits and vegetables in their fresh and whole form, with all their intact enzymes and catalysts at your local growers market. A minimal amount of dead, dried, pesticide and chemical farmed green powder is not of any benefit to anyone. Always go fresh when you can.
2. Using low-grade protein powder
Putting awesome fresh produce in your shake and then degrading it by adding a low-grade protein source is not the best way to go.
You’re potentially adding a whole bunch of hidden fillers, inflammatory agents or chemicals to what is supposed to be our remedy against these things! Look out for ingredients like colourings, preservatives and a list of inactive ingredients longer than the active ingredients.
3. Check your superfood blend
Adding superfood blends that only contain micro-doses of the superfoods that you were after is commonplace. Have you considered how much you are going to actually need of that exotic sounding “superfood”?
Some brands contain only contain one tenth or one hundredth of the star ingredient they are promoting, which will do little for your health, even though they are listed on the label and are a selling point for the product.
4. What’s your pre-made blend made of?
Using pre-made blends that have added ingredients for texture, consistency and shelf life need to be scrutinised closely.
Ingredients to avoid are inactive ingredients – they’re inactive because they haven’t been added for use in the nutritional content of the product, but are still put in the product, which means your body still has to process and deal with it.
While some natural sweeteners are OK, again without sourcing them yourself you have little control over their quality. Other sweeteners are flat out terrible for your system – high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin are the big ones to look out for so avoid these at all costs.
GREEN SMOOTHIES COME GOOD
The main point is, we need to start questioning all ingredients. It doesn’t help anyone if the “healthy” ingredients are produced in an unhealthy way, with unhealthy fillers. The benefits and assurance of using some home ingredients like a quality honey, or some well sourced stevia are more beneficial and harmonious to your body.
The other thing to look out for is food derived from a wholefood.
Most of the beneficial elements, such as vitamins and minerals, found in wholefoods are only used by the body when consumed with the rest of the wholefood. A wholefood contains the needed catalysts and enzymes to help you break down and make use of the nutrients you need to get out of those healthy foods. Nature has already got a great system set up for us and unfortunately separating and prepackaging parts of the wholefood, or synthetically trying to recreate elements of it doesn’t necessarily work.
Yes, it’s a smoothie ingredient minefield out there!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST GREEN SMOOTHIE POSSIBLE
1. Buy fresh, quality produce
Preferably from local markets or growers. This way you know (because you can ask) where your fruit and veg has been, how long it has (or hasn’t) been in storage and what sort of conditions it has been grown in. Go chemical-free, organic, and sustainably grown produce. Buy lots of it and buy variety.
We recommend a variety of colours and particular qualities (for example, avocado for fat, banana for potassium, etc). Mix it up, too; the number of documented benefits to a wide variety of fruit and veg is only made to look dull by the potentials, uses and benefits we haven’t discovered yet.
2. Pick a suspension fluid
All of the produce will be blended into oblivion so you’ll need something liquid to carry them for texture and enjoyment’s sake (even if you are about your hardcore health there’s nothing wrong with having a health dense and tasty smoothie). Try home-made nut milks, hemp milk or coconut water.
3. Pick the right protein
If you are going to add a protein source, or a powder, do your research. Know your products. Do they use proprietary blends? Then guess what – it’s impossible to know what the hidden ingredients are. Are they transparent with the sourcing of their ingredients? If not, why not? Are they traceable sources? There are companies out there making the effort to nail these crucial factors in the products they deliver. It’s worth finding them and using them.
4. Get yourself an easy to clean, simple blender
You will make the money back on the cash you don’t spend on pre-packed, potentially low quality juices, and you will hit more variety and therefore more nutrition!
Red Hippo, run by Nick Dawe and Mitch and Ryan Barraclough, is an Australian company that provides synergistic protein blends, supported by science, and road tested by Olympians.