Everywhere you turn lately, you’re most likely seeing the advice to “boost your immune system”, “keep defenses strong” and “get lots of antioxidants” into your diet each day.
This is all great advice, but do you actually know WHY you should eat antioxidant-packed foods in the first place, or what they actually DO in your body? Do you understand how your immune system works, and how antioxidants fit into the mix when it comes to keeping you well?
In this article, we’ll give a quick lesson behind the science of your immune defenses, how antioxidants fit into the equation, and the best place to get them.
We’ll also share our secret for getting the most antioxidant-packed foods in every day, along with 5 mouthwatering recipes that will make your body and taste buds happy! Fortify your healthiest self while you drink amazingly-delicious smoothies that also help you reach your weight loss goals. Read on to learn more!
What Are Antioxidants, Anyway?
Without getting too deep into the science, let’s keep it simple. Antioxidants are substances that help restore balance in your body, allowing you to maintain a continual state of wellness. (8)
As you’ve probably heard over and over, antioxidants help fight “free radicals”, but what are they and what does that mean?
Free radicals are molecules that are “unstable” because they’re missing an electron. And in an effort to get another electron and become stable within your body, they can damage your cells in the process. And this can lead to imbalance, and even result in disease and sickness. (1)
Antioxidants, in contrast, have extra electrons! In this way, they can help to stabilize free radicals by giving them the extra electron they are missing, helping to prevent damage to cells and resulting disease.
In addition, antioxidants can help prevent oxidative stress – a state that happens when there are too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants to balance them out. Prolonged oxidative stress can lead to negative health effects in the body. (2)
What Are the Top Antioxidants to Benefit Your Immune System?
Though there are many extremely beneficial antioxidants, especially in fruits and vegetables, researchers have pinpointed ”the big three” with particular influence over assisting your immune system and helping to keep you well: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A (Carotenoids like Beta Carotene). (1, 3)
Let’s talk a bit about each of them…
You know this superstar vitamin well, and probably also know that you can get it in lots of citrus fruits, though there are other great sources too.
It’s largest claims to fame are helping to support cardiovascular health, promoting youthful and radiant skin due to its part in collagen production in your body, and of course, boosting the strength of your immune system.
It’s been shown that people who take a vitamin C supplement regularly might have milder cold symptoms and a shorter cold duration when they do get sick. (4)
To learn more about Vitamin C, check out this Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.
Another powerhouse for your immune system, vitamin E is especially important for the health of your brain, vision, skin and more. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and can be found in some high-fat foods like oils and nuts (more on this later)!
Though studies are limited, vitamin E is well-known for helping to keep skin moisturized and healthy, and may even help treat dry skin disorders. In addition, it supports mental health and may help prevent mental decline as you age. (5,6)
Vitamin A (Carotenoids):
There are two different kinds of vitamin A, but the one you’ll find in plant-based foods are carotenoids like beta-carotene. This antioxidant vitamin is known for helping to keep your eyes healthy as you age, but is also essential to skin and reproductive health.
Along with being on the defensive team for keeping your immune system strong, In particular, beta carotene is known for helping to protect skin (from the effects of the sun), supporting brain and memory health, and helping to prevent vision loss as you age. (3, 7)
To learn more about Vitamin A, check out this Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.
Best Place to Get These Antioxidants for Health & Weight Loss? Go Plant-Based!
When considering where to get your daily antioxidants from, you have a few choices… whole foods, processed (fortified foods), and supplements.
At 310, we always suggest you start with healthy, clean, whole foods first. This includes fresh fruits and veggies, and also “short-cuts” that make life more convenient: like 310 Shakes, 310 Juices and more.
We suggest you avoid processed foods as much as possible, and instead stick with a whole foods diet. You can also add in invaluable supplements to help avoid nutrient deficiencies and fortify your wellness even more.
When it comes to whole foods, when in doubt, go plant-based! Though there are lots of nutrient-packed whole foods to choose from, you most importantly need to make sure you’re getting in the right amount of fruits and veggies each day.
How important is this for your immune system? It’s actually been shown that vegetarians (who plan their entire diet around fresh produce), have more effective white blood cells (which help combat bacteria, viruses, and more), when compared to non-vegetarians! This is partly due to such a high level of vitamins they get from those foods! (2)
When it comes to your diet, a great way to pinpoint antioxidants when roaming the grocery store aisles is color! The freshest, most nutrient packed foods, including the produce, will always be on the outer rim of the store (instead of in center aisles), and will be colorful – packed with plant pigments rich in antioxidants that give these foods their vibrant hues.
Another thing that getting in lots of plant-based foods is good for? Your weight loss goals! And losing weight can also benefit your immune system.
The fiber in plant foods fills you up for a low amount of calories, and has also been shown to help lower your body mass index (BMI), which may improve immunity. In addition, obesity has been linked to a greater risk for influenza and other infections, so it’s wise to maintain a healthy weight for total health.(2)
Our Recommendation for Getting In Your Fruits & Veggies!
Does getting in enough fruits and veggies each day sound like a hard task? You can make the process much easier when you plan to DRINK some of your produce instead of EAT it!
By making yummy weight loss smoothies, you can help yourself slim down and get in a variety of fruits and veggies each day, so it’s a win-win!
If you don’t like the flavor of any veggies, often it’s easy to hide that in a smoothie. In addition, if you simply don’t have time to sit and chew your food for a regular meal, smoothies are incredibly time-saving and convenient.
In addition, for weight loss we recommend that you replace two meals per day with a 310 Shake (which is also plant-based)! And you can add in your choice of fresh and frozen fruits and veggies as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the best antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies that are perfect for smoothies!
List of Antioxidant-Packed Foods for Smoothies
Let’s take a look at the “big three” antioxidant vitamins we talked about and some of the best sources of fruits and veggies to find them in that are perfect for smoothies!
- Citrus fruits (like different types of oranges and grapefruit)
- Nuts and nut butters (like peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds)
- Seeds and seed butters (like sunflower, chia, flax)
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene and other Carotenoids):
- Green leafy veggies
- Sweet potatoes
5 Top Immune-Boosting Smoothie Recipes
Now that you know some of the best antioxidant-packed fruits, veggies, and whole foods for your smoothies, let’s look at 5 amazing recipes to keep your taste buds satisfied while supporting better immunity and glowing health.
Get your daily dose of all the “big three” antioxidants along with many more in this powerhouse smoothie that supports energy, a radiant appearance, full-body detox, body balance, and of course, enhanced immunity!
Along with citrus fruits and leafy green kale, this smoothie also contains fresh ginger – an herb that’s absolutely full of antioxidants supporting health and longevity. In addition, chia seeds add healthy fats, plant-based protein, and many more nutrients – and 310 Unflavored Shake makes it a full meal!
This smoothie is an amazing source of vitamin C as well as many other beneficial vitamins and minerals. Our convenient and yummy Vitamin C Powder helps you build up your defenses with this powerful antioxidant, while also containing immune-supporting zinc, B vitamins and more.
This smoothie also supplies the nutrition of a full meal with plant-based 310 Organic Unflavored Shake – allowing you to take in all of the citrusy flavors in this drink. In addition, it includes Sour Apple Collagen, helping to support immune and gut health even further while adding a bright blast of flavor!
Not only will this shake help secure total wellness, but it will also help you slim down and tone up, with lots of fiber, satisfying protein, and fat – all while fulfilling your sweet tooth without the sugar!
Next, this simple smoothie has bold fruity-tangy flavor – which it gets from superfood-packed 310 Apple Banana Greens. This sumptuous-tasting drink is a shortcut to getting your daily fruits and veggies. It contains over 70 superfoods, enzymes, probiotics and more in every serving.
Along with that boost of antioxidant-packed fruits and veggies, this shake also includes 310 Vanilla Shake for full-meal nutrition, almond butter for a dose of vitamin E and healthy fats, creamy banana and bright Granny Smith apple, for unmatched taste.
Last but not least, this dessert-like smoothie is sure to win you over, without you even realizing how amazing it is for you in body and mind. Acai berries may not be a food you eat often, but they contain more antioxidants than even blueberries, while giving your drink ruby red berry taste!
Combined with 310 Chocolate Shake, it’s truly a match made in flavor heaven. And additional ingredients like Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and banana help you stay full and satisfied while meeting your weight loss goals.
We hope you’ve learned more about your immune system and how antioxidants play an awesome part in keeping you well. Get in your daily antioxidants from fruits and veggies by trying all of the smoothies in this article! Let us know your favorite in the comments below.