You have probably all heard of anti-oxidants, but what about pro-oxidants? Both can be beneficial and detrimental depending on their levels – too little or too much is harmful. Your body therefore ensures there’s a perfect balance between the two, but it is challenging. Not only do we not produce enough of our own anti-oxidants (diet to the rescue!) but it is easy for our body to generate excess pro-oxidants such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) - thanks to pollution, radiation, stress, nutrient excess, chronic health diseases..
Pro-oxidants may play a significant role in atherosclerosis (the blocking of arteries with fatty deposits) and coronary heart disease. It is thought that these reactive molecules oxidise (chemically alter) a specialised molecule called LDL (low density lipoprotein - the bad cholesterol!) whose role is to transport cholesterol around the body. Oxidised LDL is the first step in a chain of reactions leading to the development of fatty deposits in your arteries. Good cholesterol is called HDL (high density lipoprotein). If the artery which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the heart (the coronary artery) becomes blocked, blood flow to the heart is restricted resulting in ‘coronary heart disease’ where the heart isn’t receiving the supplies it needs to function properly.
Anti-oxidants are our natural defence against a surplus of pro-oxidants. Evidence suggests that a diet high in plant foods is inversely associated with a risk for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.
What's in the drink
Rich in pectin - this type of fibre attaches to "bad" cholesterol and promotes its removal from your body. Less clogged arteries means lower risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol and other fatty substances can collect in your arteries, leading to the formation of plaque. This plaque narrows your arteries, leading to increased blood pressure because your heart must pump harder. Pectin is a type of soluble fibre that helps reduce the amount of cholesterol by binding to it in the gut, thereby preventing its absorption into the blood.
Red gr pe
Filled with plant antioxidants and vitamin K1 which are linked to reduced hardening of your arteries - the harder they are, the less efficient they are at pumping the blood around your body.
Vitamin K1 (also called phylloquinone) is the primary dietary form of vitamin K (there’s also a vitamin K2). There is evidence to suggest vitamin K1 is involved in inhibiting the build-up of calcium in your blood vessel walls – called calcification. This build-up can block your vessels, ultimately increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. To get your hands on both vitamins K1 and K2 you could also include leafy greens and fermented soy beans in your diet!
Contains high levels of nitric oxide - this molecule widens your blood vessels, which means improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
The nitrates found in beetroot are converted to nitric oxide in your body (this conversion is initiated by bacteria in your oral cavity) which helps ease the workload of your heart by improving blood flow and muscle relaxation/contraction, especially during exercise or for those of you with high blood pressure!
Packed with plant antioxidants that can improve the function of blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Cocoa also has healthy fats that help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamin K1).
Flavanols are the plant antioxidants found in cocoa powder (this powder comprises pure cocoa solids from the cocoa bean, after the cocoa butter has been extracted) that not only help widen your blood vessels but also help lower bad cholesterol. When you incorporate cocoa into your diet, don’t grab any cocoa powder – make sure it’s the unsweetened kind, the more processed it is then the lower the flavanol content!
Packed with vitamin C and plant antioxidants - these help dampen inflammation in your arteries, resulting in less cholesterol and fatty material clogging up your arteries, lowering your risk of heart disease.
Atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries) can also lead to the accumulation of inflammatory cells (white blood cells!) in the lining of your arteries. This is because the cells become unable to clear the every-growing blockages, leading to more clogging! Vitamin C is an antioxidant and therefore neutralises the damaging molecules (pro-oxidants) that trigger the inflammation!