Humans live on the energy produced by the oxidation process where oxygen triggers the burning of glucose and fat.
Stress, ultraviolet rays, cigarette smoke, and vigorous workouts tend to cause oxygen to change into free radicals that can join with other compounds and attack cells causing damage to our bodies.
Having a larger percentage of free radicals can:
- Lead to infections
- Speed up the aging process by oxidizing cell walls, deteriorating functions of organs, and causing aging effects such as wrinkling
- Damage genes leading to cancer
- Oxidize cholesterol, changing it into “bad” cholesterol causing high blood pressure and arterial sclerosis
- Narrow blood vessels which may cause heart attacks and strokes and deteriorates functions of tissues due to blood flow blockage
- Stimulated by ultraviolet rays, create melanin, causing skin blotches and freckles
Vitamins A, E, and C and zinc and selenium are excellent sources of antioxidants. Multivitamins with minerals can and do help protect you from free radical damage. However, it is also imperative to utilize sound eating practices and there are several wonderful sources of antioxidants found in whole foods (foods that are close to natural in form and not processed in a plant).
So, if you are looking for reliable sources of antioxidants these ten foods are your best bet:
Berries are a wonderful source of antioxidants
Berries especially blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are high in proanthocyanidins. These antioxidants help prevent both heart disease and various cancers. Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries all contain ellagic acid, a compound that seems to neutralise carcinogens.
Broccoli contains a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C) a strong antioxidant with the ability to break down oestrogen. Reduced levels of oestrogen have been found to lower the likelihood of developing breast cancer, cervical cancer and cancer of the ovary. Another important antioxidant present in broccoli is beta carotene that helps protect against heart disease and various cancers.
Carrots when cooked, contain a potent antioxidant, beta carotene, that offers some protection against a variety of types of cancers, particularly lung,breast, bladder, stomach and esophageal cancers. Beta carotene also reduces heart disease.
Garlic has certain anti-fungal properties, lowers cholesterol levels and reduces blood pressure. Studies also suggest that the intake of garlic helps prevent the onset of cancer.
Soy contains genistein and isoflavone, it reduces low density lipoprotien (LDL cholesterol) which in turn, reduces the chances of developing heart disease and reduces susceptibility to colon, breast and prostate cancers.
Spinach contains lutein which is the main pigment in the section of the eye most sensitive to light, the macula. As we age this pigment may decrease and we cannot manufacture this pigment. However lutein, is found in spinach and studies indicate that people who regularly eat spinach have lessened macular damage and cataracts.
Tea contains catechins (present in green tea) and theaflavins (found in black tea) are antioxidants that are both beneficial in neutralizing free radicals. Studies have shown that drinking either green or black tea significantly reduces the risk of cancer, strokes, and heart disease. Green tea is the most powerful antioxidant beverage known today.
Tomatoes and pink grapefruit contain lycopene, one of the rarer carotenoids, that has twice the antioxidant effects of beta carotene. Studies show that lycopene reduces the likelihood of developing colon, lung, and breast cancers. Adult males who include tomatoes or tomato based products such as tomato sauce in their diets, have a lesser incidence of prostate cancer. Cooked tomatoes are most beneficial and eating tomatoes with some olive oil is the best because lycopene is fat soluble and can therefore enter the system more readily if accompanied by some form of oil or fat.
Whole Grains are a good source of Vitamin E, a very powerful antioxidant found to help protect against various cancers, particularly cancer of the prostate. Vitamin E strengthens the immune system and slows down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Whole grains are also high in phytic acid (IP-6), a strong antioxidant shown to help protect against breast, liver, and colon cancers.
Red Grapes and red wine contain quercetin and resveratrol. Resveratrol helps protect against cancers, and reduces the likelihood of having a stroke, developing inflammatory diseases, or osteoporosis.
Eat wisely, exercise, and be blessed, Kersten