According to Rebekah Blakely, RDN, and nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe, you might want to consider tossing a few antioxidant superfoods into your blender.
But before we dive into why, here's a quick science class refresher on what, exactly, an antioxidant is: "Antioxidants are substances that can help protect your cells from free radical damage," Blakely says. "Free radicals are...the result of normal metabolic processes and exposure to stressors and toxins. They are unstable [molecules] because they have an uneven number of electrons, and so they can 'steal' electrons from other healthy cells in the body, causing damage."
Luckily, consuming antioxidants can help keep free radicals in check throughout your body, and they can be found in a wide range of food sources, Blakely says. They are most abundant in fruits and vegetables, however, Blakely notes that the CDC reports that only 1 in 10 adults eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, which ranges from 1½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2½ to 3½ cups of vegetables daily for adults.
If you're one of the nine in 10 who doesn't quite hit that amount every day, supplementation can come in handy to push you over the top—which brings us back to your soon-to-be-revised smoothie recipe.
Besides loading down your smoothie with frozen fruits, veggies, and a generous scoop of almond butter (antioxidants are also found in legumes, nuts, and seeds), Blakely has two go-to antioxidant superfoods that make great smoothie add-in's: spirulina and beetroot.
If these are new ingredients to you and your kitchen, don't stress (that can lead to more free radicals, remember?)—you can find them in beet root and spirulina powders from KOS®. Grab them from The Vitamin Shoppe®, and keep them by your blender because you're going to want to make them permanent additions to your smoothie lineup.
Keep reading for an RD-backed deep dive into these antioxidant superfoods.
Benefits of spirulina
What are the benefits of spirulina that make it such a superfood powerhouse? Of course, it's the fact that it's naturally high in antioxidants. Blakely says we can attribute that nutrient value to phycocyanin, which is the pigment that gives the algae its blue-green color.
This vibrantly colored superfood is known to help support blood oxygen circulation, which is a major perk for people who exercise frequently, as better circulation is linked to higher energy and better workout endurance.
On top of these properties, spirulina may help give your immune system some extra support with its high nutrient and antioxidant content (it also contains antioxidant vitamins and minerals including beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium), which helps to reduce the oxidative stress in our cells.
As if you needed another reason to add the ingredient to your smoothies, spirulina may also help support good gut health. According to Blakely, animal studies have shown spirulina can have positive effects on the balance of the gut microbiome.
One of the easiest ways to get your daily dose of spirulina is to scoop KOS® Organic Luminous Blue Spirulina Powder or KOS® Bolt Blue Spirulina Energy (which combines pure spirulina with adaptogens and caffeine from organic green coffee beans for energy and focus support) into your next smoothie. They don't call it a superfood for nothing.
Benefits of beetroot
If there are two things you know about beets, it's probably that they're red and they contain antioxidants. Okay, you might not have known about the antioxidants before now, but apparently those things do have something in common: betalain.
"Betalains are phytonutrients that give beets their red color and have been shown to provide antioxidant...support," Blakely says.
If you thought that's where beets draw the wellness-boosting line, you would be mistaken. According to Blakely, beetroot has many of the same benefits as spirulina: It may also help support healthy blood pressure, as well as as overall circulation and blood flow. Not to mention, studies show beetroot may help improve cardiorespiratory performance and increase time to exhaustion during exercise, Blakely says.
So, if you're looking for a new pre-workout situation, add one scoop of KOS® Organic Beet Root Powder to your breakfast, smoothie, or coffee. Worried about how it might taste? Blakely recommends starting with a half scoop to test out the taste, and pairing it with other beneficial ingredients like tart cherry juice or cacao powder that complement the flavor. Beet root hot chocolate, anyone?
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