Antioxidants are in the news a lot... or they're advertised a lot, as supplements. Do you know what they are exactly?
The dictionary says they are substances that inhibit the destructive effects of oxidation in the body or in foodstuffs.
Oxidation leads to the production of free radicals which can damage cells and might accelerate the progression of cancer, heart disease, eye problems and neurological diseases.
Your body’s immune system is made to deal with free radicals. But not everyone’s immune system is strong and healthy.
Good news: These healthy substances found in food can help your body fight off the negative effects of free radicals and other harmful substances found in processed foods.
Other ways to help prevent free radical damage: Stop eating processed food; replace it with organic whole foods . Look at reducing the chemical pollutants in your home and office. Consider doing a detox.Click here to read about some detox diets
Some antioxidants are formed naturally in the body but with aging their levels decline: glutathione, lipoic acid, melatonin and CoQ10. Vitamins C and E are also antioxidants but are not produced by the body and must be obtained from food. The element iodine is believed to function as an antioxidant in the body.
The most common of these disease-fighting compounds are vitamins A, C and E. Selenium is found in garlic, asparagus, grains, Brazil nuts, pinto beans, and navy beans.
Flavonoids are found in fruits and vegetables. Some well-studied ones are catechins from green tea, genistein from soy, curcumin from turmeric, anthocyanosides from blueberries , and quercetin from yellow vegetables.
For some people, it may be easier to think about taking supplements instead of eating whole foods. I believe it’s always better to eat the whole foods. There probably are nutrients that haven’t even been discovered yet, and by taking supplements in lieu of healthy eating, those folks may miss out. In addition, they may be setting themselves up for poor health by continuing to eat those unhealthful, disease-causing foods.
That said, there are great supplements that are produced from whole foods. Adding these to a healthy diet is probably not a bad idea. It’s a good idea to get advice and/or do your own research, make sure you’re getting supplements from a reputable company, and don’t just buy the cheapest ones—the ingredients are likely inferior and may not be absorbed or utilized properly by your body.
Berries rank among the highest antioxidant foods. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are loaded with proanthocyanidins, which can help prevent cancer and heart disease. Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries contain ellagic acid which fights carcinogens. Dr. Mercola says the wild blueberry surpasses its cultivated cousins by 48%.
Another potent antioxidant is the Chinese wolfberry . Interest in wolfberries has been growing because of their nutrient richness and disease-fighting compounds.
The cruciferous vegetables—like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts—contain indole-3-carbinol, a potent compound that breaks down estrogen in the body. It can reduce breast cancer risk, as well as other estrogen-sensitive cancers like cancer of the ovaries and cervix. It also contains beta-carotene to help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Garlic is loaded with nutrients to help prevent cancer, heart disease and the effects of aging. It also has anti-fungal properties and can help prevent and fight yeast infections and asthma.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is also found in pink grapefruit and is twice as potent as beta-carotene. Studies have shown that men who eat more tomatoes have lower incidences of prostate cancer. Lycopene has also been shown to help prevent lung, colon and breast cancers. Tomatoes also contain glutathione which boosts the immune system.
The free-radical fighters resveratrol and quercetin are found in red grapes. They can improve heart health by getting rid of free radicals, reducing platelet aggregation and helping the blood vessels to stay flexible and open. Resveratrol may also protect against cancer, inflammatory diseases, gastric ulcers, stroke and osteoporosis.
Here’s a delicious, healthy summertime snack: Frozen red grapes. Just wash them and pull off from the stems, then freeze. Keep a bunch frozen for when that ice cream craving strikes. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing and delicious they are!
Lutein is a health-protective substance found in spinach. It helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, in addition to heart disease.
Carrots contain beta-carotene, which is also found in beets, sweet potatoes and other yellow-orange vegetables. It helps protect against cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Tea has been studied and shown to help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases. It is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids to combat free radicals.A caveat
... Dr. Russell Blaylock has stated that tea is high in aluminum and fluoride, with black tea being the highest. He suggests drinking only white tea. If you do drink tea, he says to not add lemon. It’s an organic acid that will cause increased absorption of aluminum by your body.
There is some controversy about soy, but it does contain genistein and other isoflavones. Genistein has been shown to help prevent breast, colon and prostate cancers. It’s best to eat the least processed forms of soy, such as tempeh.
Dr. Douglas Graham has written a book called Grain Damage. He doesn’t think grains are an optimum food for humans. He says cooked grains create a condition known as acid toxemia. However, other researchers consider whole grains to be a potent source of antioxidants, such as vitamin E.
It seems that the purple-blue-red-orange spectrum of the color wheel is where you’ll find the most antioxidant-rich fruits.
Did you know that bee pollen contains these free-radical fighters and is a rich source of minerals and micronutrients?