Antioxidants: Better than an Apple a Day?
Ever heard the phrase, "You are what you eat?" Plants and vegetables contain vitamin rich nutrients that help them grow and thrive. They’re full of life even after harvest! When we put them into our bodies, these same nutrients continue to fight for our health too.
One nutrient dense food that has been making headlines is acaí, a dark berry that hails from the South American rainforests. Best known for its purple color, acaí contributes to the traditional acaí bowl you see at restaurants. We are all obsessed and for good reason. Not only are they refreshing and easy to make, but they also pack a pretty sweet punch of vitamins and minerals.
Whether you’re eating them out at your favorite cafe or blending them up at home, below are a few health benefits of the mysterious acaí. Annnnnnd a video of how I make mine. 🙂 There are so many ways to make an acaí bowl, and there is no right or wrong combination of ingredients. Listen to your body and add foods (containing the nutrients) you’re craving. This short list is by no means comprehensive, but it helps explain the why behind acaí’s recent popularity in the health food industry.
Acaí is high in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients act as a shield to keep plants healthy (like a plant sunscreen that protects their DNA and cell membranes) against environmental stressors that create free radicals, oxidation and disease. (Think UV radiation, pests and pollution.) Phytonutrients are still being researched to determine their complete anti-oxidative benefits within the human body, but if they’re created by nature to keep plants alive, then my bet is they’re great for us too.
Acaí is high in antioxidants. Just as the name implies, antioxidants are a type of phytonutrient that helps counteract damaging oxidation within the body by slowing and preventing the spread of free radicals. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of bodily functions. (Think breathing and metabolism.) Yet, they also result from exposure to exterior stressors such as pollutants, sunlight, strenuous exercise and poor diet.
They are considered unstable because they contain one or more unpaired electrons. Once a free radical forms within the body, it will look for healthy cells to either grab or donate electrons, and this causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA. In neutralizing, the free radicals antioxidants become oxidized themselves. Our bodies require replenishment from what we eat to help keep a healthful balance.
I love my acaí, and I have a feeling most of you do too. With that said, no one ingredient or food will prevent sickness or maintain health. The cumulative presence of low grade inflammation as a result of diet plays a significant (and often overlooked) role in widespread disease. We are in more control than we might otherwise believe. Incorporating an acaí bowl here and there is awesome, but adopting a lifestyle rich in nutrient dense, health-promoting and low inflammatory foods is the key.
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