Have you heard everyone going crazy about antioxidants? Do you even know what they are? Here's the scoop on the basics... followed by a recipe!
Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds found in some foods and beverages (coffee and tea). Antioxidants are comprised of vitamins, minerals and flavanoids. 'Popular' naturally-occurring antioxidants include Vitamins C and E, polyphenols (resveratrol in wine, grape skins and anthocyanins in berries) and carotenoids (lycopene in tomatoes, carotenes in orange and yellow veggies), and many more. And yes, there are flavanols in chocolate and carob!
What makes them so special? Well, antioxidants protect cells in your body from 'free radical' damage. Free radicals are nasty unpaired molecules that oxidize whatever they touch (like turning metal into rust). Oxidation occurs naturally in your body, and you are exposed to it in your daily life by pollutants in the environment. So you have unpaired molecules floating around turning your juicy healthy cells into nasty rusty cells, and your superman antioxidant comes along, steals up that extra oxidizing electron and stops the chain of decay. See? They are ANTI-oxidants.
Antioxidants keep your cells healthy, and have been shown to fight off diseases such as some cancers, heart disease and Alzheimers. Your best bet is to get them from food sources and 'eat from the rainbow'... a wide variety of different colored foods will likely cover your bases (think rich dark blues and reds, yellow, orange and greens). And a little snack of berries, dark chocolate, green tea or red wine will fight off those free radicals.
Now the obvious choice would be to share a Superfood rainbow salad or something, but instead I'm sharing a dessert recipe from my childhood. You can get antioxidants from all sorts of places. This recipe contains carob, raisins, honey (polyphenols) and almond butter (Vitamin E), so it's an antioxidant-packed cleanse-friendly dessert!
Carob Coconut Balls
1/2 cup carob powder
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup honey
1-2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
Stays good up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator!