The term superfood is used so frequently it can be hard to keep up! What makes these foods so super is that they contain buckets of antioxidants the secret ingredient for keeping us healthy, banishing wrinkles and as a possible preventative for chronic disease. Eating (or drinking) antioxidant rich foods has the ability to quench free radicals, adding energy and calm to body and mind.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are present in fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains.
Fruits and veggies that have bright, distinctive colours, such as red tomatoes, purple blueberries, yellow squash and orange carrots are all rich in antioxidants.
How Do They Promote Health?
As we age, the body experiences oxidative stress from free radicals. This process is natural and happens to everyone. Over time, the damage can become irreversible, lead to disease and take its toll on our complexion and energy levels.
A diet rich in antioxidants is necessary to keep the levels of free radicals in the body low to maintain good health. Smoking, drinking and sunbathing can cause increases in free radical production within the body. Other factors that can increase free radical production include air pollution, infection, and exposure to toxic substances. A number of the vitamins, minerals and compounds in foods have antioxidant properties.
Six of the best are:
1. Vitamin A: Helps the immune system and the intestinal, respiratory and urinary tracts.
Foods: carrots, sweet potatoes, kale.
2. Vitamin C: Helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Improves the absorption of iron from plant based foods and helps the immune system work properly.
Foods: citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis.
3. Vitamin E: Supports the immune system so it can fight infections. Helps blood vessels, prevents blood clots and protects the damage caused by free radicals.
Foods: wholegrains, broccoli, nuts, seeds.
4. Selenium: An essential mineral that partners Vitamin E to provide oxidative protection. Helps regulate thyroid function and plays a role in the immune system. May slow the ageing process.
Foods: fish, red meat, brazil nuts.
5. Lycopene: Naturally occurring phytonutrient gives fruits & vegetables their red colour. Studies show lycopene foods reduce risk of cancer, cardio vascular disease & macular degeneration.
Foods: tomatoes, papaya, apricots.
Foods: kiwi, broccoli, kale, spinach.
Antioxidants are a part of optimal health. If you find it a struggle to reach the 5a day target for fruit and veg, or suspect that you could do with some dietary support, you might want to consider a supplement.
GPnutrition is able to advise and write a realistic, holistic nutritional plan for you. For more information please contact Gabriela.