10 Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables for Juicing and Smoothies
The acai palm grows in the Amazon rain forest of Brazil. Its berries, called acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) are large and plump, about the size of a grape. What’s amazing about them is their dark blue-purple color and their taste, which is somewhere between a blueberry and chocolate.
Although Brazilians have enjoyed acai berries as a fresh fruit for hundreds of years, they have just recently been growing in popularity in North America. The fresh berry is not widely available, but the frozen fruit and the juice (as well as a powder made from the juice) are available in health food stores.
Commonly called blackcaps, these native North American berries are currently being grown commercially in the Pacific Northwest. Although the fresh berries are available only for a very short time, the frozen and dried powdered fruit is more widely distributed.
Eat the seeds, too! Using fresh or frozen whole blackcaps in smoothies is especially healthy because the oil in raspberry seeds is rich in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.
Wild blueberries and cranberries
No doubt about it, cultivated blueberries are very good for you, but wild blueberries score over twice as high in antioxidants. They’re available in the Northeast during midsummer and frozen at other times of the year.
Raw cranberries are a native of North America and are widely available fresh in the late fall and frozen throughout the year. They make an excellent fresh juice if teamed with sweeter fruits such as apples or pineapples. Fresh or frozen cranberries are a good choice as an ingredient for smoothies, but you may need some sweetener because the flavor is very tart. The whole berries are best, but the unsweetened juice is moderately high in antioxidants, too.
Black plums and prunes
Black plums are high in vitamins C, K, and A, as well as fiber and antioxidants. Use pitted fresh black plums in juices and fresh or frozen in smoothies.
Prunes, which are the dried version of a European plum, are incredibly high in fiber, which is beneficial in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. It’s the phenolic compounds in both plums and prunes that make them high in antioxidants. Use pitted prunes in smoothies.
There’s a pattern here — can you see it? All five of the high-antioxidant fruits are very dark: purple, blue, or black. It’s the powerful antioxidant pigments in the skin and flesh that score high. Not surprisingly, blackberries are a very good addition to smoothies and excellent in fresh juices.
Red beans, kidney beans, and black beans
Many legumes — specifically, black turtle beans, soybeans, red kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils — score high in antioxidants, but only in their raw state. Once you boil them, their antioxidant scores drop by roughly one-third.
For smoothies and juices, if you have a powerful blender (like a high-performance blender), you can grind your own dried beans or lentils or you can buy ground or powdered beans or bean flour in specialty food stores.
They’re hard to clean and cook, but the antioxidant power of artichokes is high enough for them to make this list, and you can purchase them cooked and preserved in water. Use artichoke hearts as an ingredient in smoothies, not only for their antioxidant properties, but also because they stimulate the production of bile in the liver, help gallbladder functioning, and reduce cholesterol.
You might think of garlic strictly as an herb, something to add flavor to dishes. Use it as a vegetable and in quantities that can positively affect your health.
Although you’ll likely be able to tolerate only one-half raw clove to one whole raw clove of garlic in vegetable drinks, including it will help to boost your overall daily consumption, which should be two to four cloves a day (or about one whole head of garlic per week) for the best medical benefits.
Cabbage and broccoli rabe
Both cabbage and broccoli rabe are high in phytonutrients. Red cabbage contains 36 different varieties of anthocyanins, those powerful antioxidants found in the black, purple, blue, and red plant pigments. Use it in juicing and smoothies for its calcium; magnesium; potassium; and vitamins C, K, and A. One cup of cooked cabbage supplies 4 grams of fiber, so lightly steam or simmer it for use in smoothies.
Broccoli rabe is a bitter-tasting relative of broccoli, with more leaves and a smaller flower head. Although broccoli is very good and shouldn’t be ignored, broccoli rabe scores as high as red cabbage as an antioxidant and like its plumper, less bitter cousin, it’s low in calories and high in calcium, potassium, vitamin C, folate, and vitamins K and A. Use broccoli rabe raw in juicing and either raw or lightly steamed in smoothies.
Like purple and white carrots, purple cauliflower is making its way into farmers’ markets and onto supermarket shelves. Both white and purple cauliflower are rich in sulforaphane, a powerful antioxidant. If you can’t find the purple variety, eat the yellow or the white, but eat it two or three times a week because it helps to neutralize and rid your cells of carcinogenic molecules. One cup of raw cauliflower provides 85 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements; it also supplies vitamin K, folate, choline, vitamin B6, potassium, fiber, and manganese, among other nutrients.