Nov 082010

antioxidants foodsWhat are the best antioxidant foods? Recently, you may have read or heard a lot about antioxidants in food in conjunction with good health or avoiding diseases. Antioxidants have been getting great press lately, and rightfully so. But what are they? What do they do once inside our bodies? And how can we get more of them?

These naturally occurring powerhouses can help prevent heart disease and cancer, reduce blood pressure, and slow the effects of aging. Once an antioxidant finds its way in to our body, it slows down, protects, or even prevents the oxidation of other molecules, called free radicals – before they can do damage.

Antioxidant Foods

The best way to lay an antioxidant-rich foundation is through a combination of whole foods and spices. Did you know that besides spicing up your food, that as little as ½ teaspoon of these super spices can boost your antioxidant levels?

According to the McCormick science institute spices ranked highest in antioxidant compounds are: ground cloves, cinnamon, mustard seed, dried oregano, turmeric, basil, curry powder, paprika, chili powder, and parsley leaves.

Other foods with nutrient rich antioxidants include:
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  • Tea – having shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other degenerative diseases.
  • Red grapes -a little red wine can keep your heart beating longer and stronger. Why? Mostly because of a substance called resveratrol found in red grapes. These potent antioxidants boost heart health by acting as free-radical scavengers, reducing platelet aggregation and helping blood vessels remain open and flexible.
  • Whole grains –Your morning bowl of cereal, as long as its whole-grain variety is a potent antioxidant that plays a role in preventing cancer, especially prostate cancer. Other studies have found that it can boost immunity, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and help arthritis sufferers.
  • Berries – Taking a top seat, the components that contribute a lot of the antioxidant activity in berries are called anthocyanins.
  • Spinach– because lutein (an antioxidant found in spinach) is the main pigment in the macula – it can help protect your vision. Studies have shown that people who eat spinach are less likely to develop cataracts and macular degeneration, the two most common causes of vision loss.
  • Garlic– perhaps the world’s oldest known medicinal and culinary herb,  garlic is packed with antioxidants that can help fend off cancer, heart disease and the effects of aging. The sulfur compounds that give garlic its pungent odor are thought to be responsible for its healing benefits. Other studies suggest that eating garlic regularly can help prevent cancer, and boost immunity.
  • Broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, can help prevent cancer and ward off heart disease, as well as reducing the risk of breast cancer, and other estrogen-sensitive cancers.
  • Tomatoes, and for good reason – they can ward off certain kinds of cancer, prevent cancer, prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, and help maintain mental function as we age. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a member of the carotenoid family, and twice as powerful as beta-carotene. Studies have shown that men who eat more tomatoes or tomato sauce have significantly lower rates of prostate cancer.

When you’re looking for antioxidant foods, think of the colors of a rainbow.

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