Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blueberry, raspberry, banana and cashew smoothie

Boosting your intake of antioxidants will help you in numerous ways, from reducing wrinkles to preventing dementia.

Imagine your body's metabolism is a fire.  The fuel for this fire is the food you eat and it is 'burned' to produce energy to power your daily activities.  In addition to producing beneficial heat and light, a fire also produces smoke as a by-product, which is harmful.  In an analogous way, when the body uses food to create energy, it also produces harmful by-products, which are called free radicals.  Free radicals are extremely reactive atoms or molecules which need to bond with other atoms or molecules to make themselves more stable.  These free radicals cause damage to cell membranes and to DNA, which leads to aging and a host of diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and cancer.  Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system.  The good news is that nature has provided us with antidotes to these free radicals - these are called antioxidants.  Certain vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients act as antioxidants, protecting and repairing cells from damage caused by free radicals.  Regular consumption of a wide range of antioxidants therefore protects your body from disease and aging and supports your immune system, helping you to fight off colds, flu and other infections.  It is much better to consume antioxidants in their natural form in food than it is to take antioxidant supplements, which may even be harmful.  Scientists can measure how powerful a substance is as an antioxidant, or its oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), using a simple laboratory test.

Here is a simple smoothie recipe that is bursting with antioxidant goodness.


1/2 cup (60g, 2oz) cashew nut pieces
1 cup water
75g (3oz) blueberries
75g (3oz) raspberries
1 banana (peeled and chopped)


  1. Place the cashew nut pieces in a container with 1 cup of water and blend until it becomes a smooth, milky liquid
  2. Add the cashew nut 'milk' to the blueberries, raspberries and bananas in a jug and blend until smooth
  3. Serve in glasses for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack.  This quantity makes approximately 1 pint or 0.5 litres of smoothie, which is enough for two servings.
Blueberries are an excellent source of flavonoids, especially anthocyanidins, which are responsible for the blue, purple and red pigments.  Anthocyanidins are exceptional antioxidants and have one of the highest ORAC values of all fruits and vegetables.  Blueberries are also a very good source of vitamin C, insoluble fibre and soluble fibre such as pectin.  They also contain manganese, vitamin E and vitamin B2.

Raspberries are an excellent source of fibre, manganese, vitamin C, flavonoids and ellagic acid.  They are a very good source of vitamin B2 as well as other B vitamins such as folic acid, B3, B5 and B6.  Like blueberries, raspberries contain anthocyanidins, which act as powerful antioxidants.

Bananas are packed with nutrients, especially potassium.  Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes in the body, helping to regulate heart function as well as fluid balance.  Bananas are very soothing to the digestive tract due to their high content of pectin, a soluble fibre that lowers cholesterol and normalises bowel function.

Cashews are a very good source of monounsaturated fats (derived from oleic acid) as well as many minerals, including copper, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.  They are also a good source of biotin and protein.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger juice

Here is a strengthening juice to tickle your tastebuds and ward off colds, tummy bugs and hangovers.

It is rich in nutrients and phytonutrients, with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive and anti-bacterial properties.

1 fresh beet, with root and greens
2 carrots
1 apple
1 piece fresh root ginger (2-4 cm)

Process all ingredients in a vegetable juicer and drink.  Super easy.

Health benefits

Beet greens are even higher in nutritional value than beetroots, as they are richer in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.  Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium.  Both beet greens and roots are a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B6.

Beetroots have long been used for medicinal purposes, particularly as they are known to stimulate the liver's detoxification processes.  The pigment that  gives beets their deep purple colour is called betacyanin and is a powerful anti-cancer agent.

Beetroot may also protect against heart disease as it has been shown to dilate blood vessels and lower diastolic blood pressure.

Carrots provide the highest source of vitamin A carotenes of commonly consumed vegetables.  Two carrots provide roughly four times the daily reference nutrient intake of vitamin A.  Carrots also provide excellent levels of vitamin K, biotin and fibre and very good levels of vitamins C, B1 and B6, and potassium.  The antioxidant content of carrots helps to protect against chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.  Carrots also promote good vision and along with other fruit and vegetables help to protect against macular degeneration.

Apples are a good source of vitamin C, pectin and other fibres, and potassium.  Most of the apple's important nutrients are contained in its skin.  If apples are raw and unpeeled, they are also a great source of many phytonutrients, such as ellagic acid and flavonoids such as quercetin.  The old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" has a great deal of truth in it.  In a review of various studies, apple consumption was shown consistently to be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes, compared with other fruits and vegetables.

Root ginger
Ginger contains small quantities of vitamins such as B6 and B5, as well as minerals such as potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium.  It has been used since ancient times for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, carminative, anti-flatulent, and anti-microbial properties. The root contains essential oils such as gingerol, zingerone, shogaol, farnesene, and small amounts of β-phelladrene, cineol, and citral.   Gingerols help improve intestinal motility and have anti-inflammatory, painkiller (analgesic), nerve soothing, anti-pyretic as well as anti-bacterial properties. Studies have shown that ginger may reduce nausea induced by chemotherapy, motion sickness or pregnancy and may help relieve migraine headache.  Zingerone, a chemical compound which gives pungent character to the ginger root, is effective against E.coli induced diarrhoea, especially in children.

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Celery, cucumber, apple, parsley and lime juice

Green juices are a great way to include a wider variety of vegetables in your diet, are packed with nutrients and easy to digest.

Where possible try to use organic produce.

Wash all produce thoroughly.

If you don't have an expensive juicer, don't worry - a cheaper one will be fine.

For advice on different types of juicers and their pros and cons please check out Jason Vale - the Juice Master.

Here is a delicious recipe for a refreshing, cooling green juice, ideal for a warm day.

1 stick celery
1 piece cucumber (approx 10cm)
1 apple
2 sprigs parsley
1/2 fresh lime

Put celery, cucumber, apple and parsley in a juicer and process.  Add juice of 1/2 lime at the end.

That's it.  Easy peasy and so good for you.  Do you know why?  What will you give your body by drinking this delicious juice?  Here are some of the magic ingredients in the ingredients:

Celery is an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre, as well as potassium, folic acid and vitamins B6 and B1. It is also a good source of calcium and vitamin B2.  Whilst celery does contain more sodium than many other vegetables, this is offset by very high levels of potassium.  Celery contains substances called coumarins which have anti-cancer properties.  A few animal studies suggest that celery seed extracts may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as protect the liver from damaging substances such as the pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol). But researchers don' t know whether these effects also occur in humans.

In addition to containing a large amount of water which keeps you well-hydrated, cucumbers are also a good source of vitamins C, A and folic acid.  The skin is rich in fibre and contains a variety of important minerals including silica, potassium, magnesium and molybdenum.  Silica contributes to the strength of our connective tissue and is important for bone health.

Apples are a good source of vitamin C, pectin and other fibres, and potassium.  Most of the apple's important nutrients are contained in its skin.  If apples are raw and unpeeled, they are also a great source of many phytonutrients, such as ellagic acid and flavonoids such as quercetin.  The old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" has a great deal of truth in it.  In a review of various studies, apple consumption was shown consistently to be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes, compared with other fruits and vegetables.

Parsley is extremely rich in a large number of nutrients, chorophyll and carotenes.  It is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid and iron and also contains many minerals including magnesium, calcium and zinc.  Numerous health benefits have been ascribed to parsley, including use for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, constipation, flatulence, fluid retention, high blood pressure and prostate conditions, though clinical evidence for these effects is limited.  There is some evidence that parsley extracts have anti-oxidant activity.

Limes are an excellent source of vitamin C and provide good levels of vitamin B6, potassium, folic acid, flavonoids and the important phytochemical limonene.  Limes contain several phytonutrients that have anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties.  In particular, research has demonstrated that lime juice can affect cell cycles: it can modulate the decision a cell takes to divide (mitosis) or die (apoptosis) or even influence activity of the immune system.  Lime also has an antibiotic effect and has been shown to protect against cholera.

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