What we eat affects our health, but so does the combination of foods we introduce into the body. In fact, combining different foods, spices or drinks can create precious synergies that maximize the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, such as the case of tomatoes cooked in extra virgin olive oil or turmeric combined with pepper and extra virgin olive oil, or, conversely, bad combinations that can even reduce the beneficial effects. Today we are talking about the best, and worst, combinations of fruit and vegetables to make smoothies, as emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the journal Food and Function thanks to a collaboration between American and English scientists (Ottaviani et al, Food and Function, 2023).
Smoothies, healthy and delicious
When we prepare a smoothie we think of adding different types of fruit and vegetables to fill up on antioxidants, such as flavonols, which are substances contained in apples, berries, pears, grapes and cocoa and which are beneficial for the heart and cognitive function. However, we need to pay attention to what we add to our smoothie as some ingredients can significantly reduce the intake of antioxidants. The study we are talking about focused precisely on this topic.
The study is very small, in fact involving 8 people, but it is nonetheless worthy of note as the results it proposes are clear and significant and, in addition, it paves the way for other research in the sector. Volunteers were asked to drink a smoothie prepared with a banana, cocoa, which is an ingredient rich in antioxidants, and almond milk. Subsequently, the volunteers drank a smoothie prepared with almond milk, cocoa and 200 grams of mixed berries that included strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Then, all volunteers were asked to take one capsule of antioxidants as a control. The values of circulating antioxidants were measured through blood tests. What emerged was that the banana smoothie reduced the amount of circulating antioxidants by 84% compared to the berry drink and the pure antioxidant capsule.
Bananas, like other foods such as beet leaves, contain large quantities of a substance, called polyphenol oxidase, which degrades antioxidants and limits their quantity absorbed by the body.
Therefore, combining banana with antioxidant-rich fruits, such as berries, cocoa and grapes, makes these foods less beneficial. Of course, this doesn't mean that bananas shouldn't be added to smoothies. This can very well be done but it is better to avoid the combination of banana and berries, apples, pears, grapes, cocoa, whose precious antioxidants would be degraded. Instead, an excellent combination is that given between the latter foods and other ingredients that contain low values of the polyphenol oxidase enzyme, such as pineapple, oranges, mango and yogurt, which allow the body to absorb the maximum amount of flavonols contained.