Antioxidants: Eat All Your Colors!
There is a lot of talk about Antioxidants today. And, justifiably so. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, which cause cell damage, which ultimately can lead to diseases of the heart and cancer. It seems everywhere you go; it’s blueberry this and blueberry that. You have your choice of wild blueberry juice, blueberry-pomegranate juice, blueberry-cranberry juice, and so on.
Who does not love Blueberries? But, in our rush to embrace the latest antioxidant food craze (blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates), we’re ignoring some very high-antioxidant foods that are probably sitting ignored in our cupboards.
“What?” You ask, “What could be higher in antioxidants than my beloved fresh blueberry?” Well, how about the small red bean? That’s right, “bean.”
The small red bean has more antioxidants per serving size than the wild blueberry. And the red kidney bean and pinto bean have more antioxidants per serving size than a serving of cultivated blueberries.
What are other foods high in antioxidants? There are artichoke hearts, blackberries, prunes, pecans, spinach, kale, russet potatoes, and plums. And, no, that’s not a mistake. Russet potatoes are on the list of foods high in antioxidants.
Foods high in antioxidants
There are many common foods high in antioxidants, and you should not just restrict yourself to one particular food source. Why? Have you ever heard the expression, “eat your colors?”
That refers to foods in different color “families.” They contain different types of antioxidants with various benefits. For example, the yellow-orange color family of peaches and nectarines help our immune systems.
The purple-red color family of foods (pomegranates, plums, berries) helps reduce inflammation. Eating foods from all color groups is essential to reap the full benefits of antioxidants.
The good news is that you can eat healthy foods high in antioxidants. You can eat them raw, cook them, or juice them yourself. You don’t have to pay a high price for the advertised antioxidant juices in supermarkets.
So, give your blueberries some company at the dinner table. Invite some beans, spinach, potatoes, and artichoke hearts, and enjoy your antioxidants!
The prex ‘anti’ means against, in opposition to, or corrective. Here, the ‘anti’ in antioxidants describes the effect these chemicals have against oxidants. Oxidants, usually called ‘free radicals, are produced as a natural by-product of the millions of biochemical processes undertaken by the body every minute.
The same life-giving oxygen that supports all body functions creates these harmful by-products which cause cell damage, usually to DNA, fats, and proteins.
Free radicals also enter the body through external influences such as exposure to the sun, pesticides, and other environmental pollution. In addition, mental and physical stress, the consumption of alcoholic beverages, unhealthy foods, and cigarette smoke increase their levels.
Free Radical oxidation
In much the same way as oxidation causes rust on cars, oxidation inside the body causes a breakdown of cells. Suppose the amount of free radical oxidation in the body is allowed to rise to an unhealthy level.
In that case, it can result in extensive damage to cellular components. It also accelerates the aging process.
More importantly, it may contribute to a wide range of degenerative illnesses and reduce the body’s ability to deal with other problems, including cardiovascular malfunction, eye disease, and cancer.
Additionally, it may result in a compromised immune system, leading to immunological disorders. Also, it lessens the body’s ability to heal wounds and overcome infections. Some studies indicate possible links to arthritis and similar chronic conditions.
Antioxidants counter these effects by binding with free radicals before they can cause damage. They then convert them into non-damaging biochemical substances and assist with the reparation of cellular damage.
Certain antioxidant enzymes are produced within the body.
The most well-known of these are catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione:
Catalase converts hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.
Superoxide dismutase breaks antioxidants down into hydrogen peroxide.
Glutathione is a detoxifying agent, changing the form of toxins so that the body quickly eliminates them.
You can consume other antioxidants through the diet. Some of the better known include the antioxidant vitamins beta-carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Minerals such as selenium, zinc, glutathione, and co-enzyme Q10 may also have antioxidant properties. Also, flavonoids such as cranberry, some amino acids, and organic extracts from milk thistle and the tree known as Ginkgo Biloba.
A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables provides an ample supply of these antioxidants to help eliminate damaging free radicals. The highest concentrations are in fruits and leafy green vegetables, such as carrots, oranges, red peppers, spinach, and tomatoes.
Cooking can destroy some antioxidants and interfere with the body’s ability to absorb them. Eating raw vegetables and fruit and including sprouts in the diet can help. Steaming vegetables instead of frying, microwaving, or boiling is also a good idea.
See also How Antioxidant-Rich Food Brings Benefit To Your Health.
And You Will Love These Purple Antioxidant-Rich Vegan Recipes
Glutathione is the Master Antioxidant and Detoxifier. Click here to learn all about this youth-enhancing antioxidant.