Superfood Smoothie with Greens and Cacao Nibs

August 7, 2015
Superfood Smoothie with Greens + Cacao Nibs - A superfood smoothie with vegan protein powder, spinach, avocado, cacao nibs and chlorophyll

Which of the following can neutralize “bad” cholesterol, so it doesn't damage your arteries?

(a)  Papaya  (b) Sweet Potato  (c)  Nuts  (d)  None of the Above  (e) All of the Above


Photo Credit: Instagram – @modelsforwellness

(This post may contain affiliate links)

Jump to Recipe

The correct answer is (e): All of the above

All three are rich in health-promoting antioxidants.

In the Nurse's Health Study (that's still under away) researchers compared the diets of more than 73,000 nurses and found that a diet rich in vitamin E (found in nuts) reduced heart attack risk by 52 percent, a diet rich in vitamin C (abundant in papaya) reduced risk by 43 per cent, and a diet rich in beta-carotene (plentiful in sweet potatoes) reduced risk by 38 per cent.

Nurses who regularly took in this trio of nutrients were 63 percent less likely to have heart attacks than those who did not (!)

This is Part II in a short series on free radicals, their sources, the impact they have on the body, and how antioxidants affect them.

Part I can be found .. here

Free Radicals - 6-640x

Photo Credit: Hive Health

What are some of the effects on our bodies from all of this electron stealing?

One consequence is something known as lipid peroxidation (aka, turning body fats rancid) and it's a very big deal, because of the effects it has at the

cellular level

Every cell in our body is surrounded by a double-layered sheet of fats that envelopes it like the coziest of cashmere blankets.  To keep its contents happy, warm, and protected, these fats also act as the strictest of gatekeepers, keeping close tabs on the nutrients that enter .. along with the waste that leaves

If the blanket wears thin or develops holes, and these important fat cells are compromised (by attacks from free radicals), our precious DNA has now become exposed to them as well.  Once DNA has been compromised, as the cells replicate, they'll be doing so with the damaged version, and sadly, our body will begin regenerating ..

damaged cells

Superfood Smoothie with Greens + Cacao Nibs - A superfood smoothie with vegan protein powder, spinach, avocado, cacao nibs and chlorophyll

Another consequence is oxidation (or the loss of an electron).

Certainly, oxidation isn't all bad, as it's a byproduct of so many of our most basic functions.  For example, our metabolism and breathing.  For the most part, or bodies have built-in mechanisms that are on the job for the majority of this clean-up

Trouble begins to brew when we have too many oxidative reactions going on at any given time.  When the delicate balance between the renegade free radicals and our antioxidant defenses is thrown off, and our bodies enter the state of

oxidative stress

Once the body reaches this state, there are heavy tolls it can have on our health.

To mention a just few (the list is terribly long!) premature aging, lowered immune function, increases in allergy sensitivities, inflammation (ex: irritable bowel syndrome) and damage of the muscles or joints (ex: arthritis).

There can also be nerve degeneration, as happens in the case of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.  Not to mention the exponentially increased risk for some of the most serious diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer

Photo Credit: Instagram – @dailyharvest

Never fear, as our bodies have a broad spectrum of protective responses to mop up all of the messes (though we need to do our part as well)

Antioxidants are on the job, with their main goal being to distract.

Essentially they self-sacrifice, offering themselves up to be oxidized by the radicals instead of our cells.  They're not destroyed necessarily, but become a weak (aka, kinder and gentler) free radical, one that isn't likely to attack an innocent bystander in the same way a free radical from a trans-fatty acid would

Vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, and the minerals zinc and selenium are antioxidants, with Vitamins E and C acting as our first lines of defense.

Vitamins E and beta-carotene both are used in the fatty membranes of the cell, effectively sponging them up before the vagrants can poke holes in the protective cashmere blanket they form

Vitamin C works in the watery innards of the cell, coping with, and making certain the radicals are flushed away into the urine.

(Trivia:  Vitamin C is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant, and Vitamin E is the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant found in the body)

Superfood Smoothie with Greens + Cacao Nibs - A superfood smoothie with vegan protein powder, spinach, avocado, cacao nibs and chlorophyll

We also have three enzyme systems that play a part in the antioxidant defense system.

There is superoxide dismutase, whose sole purpose is to eliminate superoxide, a type of free radical

Beyond superoxide dismutase, other enzymes convert the free radical hydrogen peroxide into water and harmless oxygen. Quality-control enzymes degrade oxidatively sullied proteins and fats, or clip out damaged pieces of DNA and then sew in new, healthy ones

Bruce Ames, a biochemist at the University of California at Berkeley, has estimated that each cell endures 10,000 oxidative hits every day from errant free radicals, and nearly all are immediately repaired

That's a lot(!)


Photo Credit: Instagram – @dailyharvest

Certainly, our bodies are making valiant efforts in the fight, and luckily there are lines of defense we employ that will help out

Eating foods that are high in antioxidant nutrients is a great place to start.  They tend to be our highly colored fruits and vegetables, squashes, dark leafy greens, red and yellow peppers, and blue and red berries

Increasing the nutrient density in our diets should be an ongoing goal

Most important is to reduce the exposure to the free radicals in the first place

Supplements?  Certainly, there are many available that contain antioxidant formulas.  Though a word or two of caution.  Biochemists are quick to point out the flaw in the theory that if antioxidant vitamins are good for you, then more must be better


They say our bodies always tend toward homeostasis (aka, balance), and the consumption of one type of antioxidant vitamin can result in dampening the body's own means of cleaning up these excess free radicals

Pretty incredible stuff

Superfood Smoothie with Greens + Cacao Nibs - A superfood smoothie with vegan protein powder, spinach, avocado, cacao nibs and chlorophyll

One of my go-to smoothies as of late

There's something about beginning the day with a superfood smoothie that helps reduce any sugar cravings I may have and sets me up for better eating habits for the rest of the day

Filled with all good things: vegan protein powder, spinach, avocado, and chlorophyll.  The cacao nibs providing a bit of dark chocolate crunch without being too overpowering

Chlorophyll is very alkalizing to the body, and I've been taking a shot every morning for the past few months

Wishing for you the happiest of weekends ahead



ps:  You can read more about free radicals in Part I of the series

pps:  Want to read more?  A few of my resources included:  Quiz from Best Health Magazine .. Pharmacognosy Review .. PubMed: here .. here .. here .. here .. and here

— — —

~ Adapted from Food Coach NYC

Superfood Smoothie with Greens and Cacao Nibs


  • 10 oz of nut milk ~ 1 ¼ cups
  • 2 Tbsp Beautiful Protein Powder created by Food Coach NYC
  • ½ dropper of mint chlorophyll
  • 1 tsp of cacao nibs
  • 1/4 avocado
  • handful of spinach
  • 4 -5 ice cubes


  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend for 30-60 seconds until smooth.
Serves: 1
Nutrition + Show
Calories 240
Total Fat 11.38g
Carbohydrates 10.25g
Protein 23g
Print This Recipe

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply David Allen Elliott May 20, 2018 at 10:47 am

    5 stars
    Our bodies do try to find balance in everything. It gets to be pretty crazy for sure. But it’s great that there are ways to try to make sure our bodies keep protecting itself and functioning properly. As for healthy foods, I know people don’t say they like being unhealthy. But sometimes they don’t like the food it takes to be healthy. The smoothie looks delicious. I know some co-workers who live by smoothies like this. Really I should be trying them out more often.

  • Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating