Smoothies are highly portable, nutritious beverages you can enjoy in place of fast food breakfast items or unhealthy, pre-packaged snack foods. These beverages can contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health. By choosing certain kinds of ingredients for your smoothies, you can also add antioxidants to them.
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and enzymes that may prevent the oxygenation of free radical molecules, which are naturally present in your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are formed during normal cell metabolism. They are also formed during exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoke and environmental toxins. Antioxidants starve free radical molecules of oxygen, which prevents these molecules from attacking and damaging healthy bone, muscle, organ and connective tissue cells. This may help prevent the formation of cancerous tumors, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease and coronary artery disease.
Several of the common fruits and vegetables used in smoothies offer antioxidant benefits. Fruits, such as apples, oranges, papayas, mangoes, kiwi, grapefruit and pomegranates, contain vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. Carrots, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, kelp and broccoli, which appear in "green" vegetable smoothies, contain antioxidant vitamin A. Spinach, kelp and alfalfa also contain vitamin E, another antioxidant. Zinc, an antioxidant mineral, is found in soft and silken tofu, an ingredient commonly used in protein smoothies.
Peel fruits and vegetables as necessary, slice and place in a blender or food processor. Add 1 to 2 cups of skim or soy milk to add protein and calcium to your antioxidant smoothies, and to give smoothies a creamier texture. Add 2 to 4 ounces of silken or soft tofu, if desired, to boost your protein and magnesium content. You can also add ingredients, such as walnuts, flax seeds or hazelnuts, which contain essential fatty acids that support healthy organ and muscle cells. Blend until smooth.
Although it is unlikely that you would overdose on antioxidant vitamins and minerals when deriving them solely from food sources, overdoses of these nutrients may pose several health risks. Consuming more than 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day may contribute to stomach ulcers, particularly if you also take aspirin. Daily consumption of more than 10,000 International Units of vitamin A may be toxic to your liver and kidneys. Consuming more than 100 milligrams of zinc daily may suppress immune system function. Vitamin E may interfere with anticoagulant medications, particularly at dosages of 1200 IU or more of vitamin E per day.