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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