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Antioxidants at the Juice Bar

Everyone’s heard of antioxidants ...right? The yellow flag on my ketchup bottle is practically screaming the word at me from my fridge door, and if the ads on during the network evening news are to be believed, a diet of nothing but broccoli, red wine and blueberries would have one living forever. But what are they? They do exactly what the name implies. They counteract the normal physiological process of oxidation, better known to us as aging. It sounds like a miracle—here we have an item that is now added to just about everything and it stops aging! Hundreds of observational studies have come to the conclusion that diets rich in antioxidant fruits and veggies lead to a lower risk of Parkinson’s, cancer, stroke, cataracts, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

Let’s not get carried away, though. Just as many studies have shown that at mega-dose levels antioxidants can reach a toxic level and have a dangerous interaction with the medications prescribed to fight the above mentioned conditions. Hmm...it seems we’re back to that age-old miracle cure, moderation. One place you can receive a healthy dose of antioxidants is the Willy Street Co-op Juice Bar, in one of our delicious smoothies.
Antioxidants can be found in the ingredient list of just about all our smoothies and juices. Vitamin E is found in leafy veggies, peanuts, and wheat germ. Vitamin C is in citrus and leafy veggies as well. Beta carotene can be found in mangoes, kale, and spinach. Various phytochemicals with antioxidant properties can also be found in fruit peels, carrots, apples, and flax seed.


Now, while most every fruit and vegetable contains vitamins A, C, and E and vitamin precursors (Beta carotene) that act as antioxidants, some of the highest concentrations can be found in berries. One major study claims that just one cup of berries provides your entire antioxidant requirement for a day. While blackberries and blueberries scored the highest in antioxidant content (along with cranberries), strawberries and raspberries weren’t far behind. Berries also have the advantage of having relatively low sugar compared to sweet fruits that have been hybridized into high sugar forms that scarcely resemble their ancestral selves.

Now, I’m sure that most of you have enjoyed a blueberry or two, and blackberries are far from foreign, but two of the most potent resources of antioxidants just happen to have also been added to our smoothie menu and neither of them grows in Lake Wobegone.

The goji berry

One of nature’s most nutritionally dense foods grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They look something like a pale shriveled cranberry and taste vaguely cranberry/cherry/date-like. In addition to antioxidants, the goji berry is loaded with amino acids. At about 13 percent protein, it comes in above whole wheat and has many other vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, vitamins B1, B2, B6 and vitamin E.

The açai berry

The açai berry hails from the rainforests of South America and has rapidly gained popularity around the world for its healthful blend of antioxidants, omega fats, protein, and fiber. Its taste is surprisingly rich for a berry with an element of earthy cocoa. With its high fiber and fat acid content, it is surprisingly satisfying. It is high in Vitamin E, B2, B3, and is a good source of potassium.

Look for these two new additionson our “Make-Your-Own-Smoothie” at
the Juice Bar. Blended with a little fresh OJ and a bit of banana, each of these nutrient-laden superfoods tastily gets your day going, or provides some quick but lasting energy for your summer afternoon.