Antioxidants play an important role in overall health. They are natural compounds found in some foods that help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are substances that occur naturally in our bodies but attack the fats, protein and the DNA in our cells, which can cause different types of diseases and accelerate the aging process.
These powerful substances, which mostly come from the fresh fruits and vegetables we eat, prohibit (and in some cases even prevent), the oxidation of other molecules in the body. The benefits of antioxidants are very important to good health, because if free radicals are left unchallenged, they can cause a wide range of illnesses and chronic diseases.
Increasing one’s antioxidant intake is essential for optimum health, especially in today’s polluted world. Because the body just can’t keep up with antioxidant production, a good amount of these vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes must come from one’s daily diet. Boosting your antioxidant intake can help provide added protection for the body against:
- Heart problems
- Eye problems
- Memory problems
- Mood disorders
- Immune system problems
This tiny antioxidant powerhouse is available in fresh, bottled, minced or powdered form. Roasting a head of garlic mellows its flavour and makes a soft, delicious spread for bread.
- 1 clove garlic = 1 mg sodium, 12 mg potassium, 4 mg phosphorus
Apples have more antioxidants with the peel on, so just wash and enjoy.
1 medium apple with skin = 0 sodium, 158 mg potassium, 10 mg phosphorus
Eat red bell peppers raw with dip as a snack, or mix them into tuna or chicken salad and serve on crackers or bread. Roast these red capsicums and use them as a topping on sandwiches, chop them for an omelette or add them to your salads.
- Half a red bell pepper = 1 mg sodium, 88 mg potassium, 10 mg phosphorus
Cooked cabbage contains more antioxidants than raw. Steam, boil or microwave red cabbage for a nutritious side dish. It’s also good in main dishes like Cabbage Rolls . Raw red cabbage can be used for coleslaw or Cabbage Salad.
1/2 cup serving cooked red cabbage = 21 mg sodium, 197 mg potassium, 25 mg phosphorus
1/2 cup serving raw shredded red cabbage = 9 mg sodium, 85 mg potassium, 11 mg phosphorus
Cranberries add a distinctive zing to sweet breads, muffins, Easy Cranberry Salad. Enjoy dried cranberries sprinkled on a salad or on their own as a snack. You can also drink cranberry juice or cranberry juice cocktail.
- 3-4 raw cranberries = 1 mg sodium, 40 mg potassium, 6 mg phosphorus
- 1/2 cup serving cranberry juice cocktail = 3 mg sodium, 22 mg potassium, 3 mg phosphorus
- 3-4 cup serving dried cranberries = 2 mg sodium, 24 mg potassium and 5 mg phosphorus
Black plums are higher in antioxidants than red. Look for plums that have a fairly firm to slightly soft feel. Pit and freeze plums and add them to smoothies, purée them for Quick Fruit Sorbet or try Old-Fashioned Plum Cake.
- 1 medium plum = 0 mg sodium, 104 mg potassium, 11 mg phosphorus
Blueberries are classic additions to pancakes and blueberry muffins. Buy them frozen to use in smoothies or in a Blueberry Peach Crisp. When they’re in season, enjoy a bowl of fresh blueberries.
- ½ cup fresh blueberries = 4 mg sodium, 65 mg potassium, 7 mg phosphorus
Sprinkle fresh berries on your cereal or oatmeal, use frozen ones in smoothies or bake them into pies. Use berries in unexpected ways to bring out the flavour of meats, including this recipe for Raspberry Wings.
- 1/2 cup blackberries = 1 mg sodium, 117 mg potassium, 16 mg phosphorus
- 1/2 cup raspberries = 0 mg sodium, 93 mg potassium, 17 mg phosphorus
- 5 medium fresh strawberries = 1 mg sodium, 120 mg potassium, 13 mg phosphorus
Eating a diet rich in spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, reduces the body’s negative responses to eating high-fat meals, according to new research. If a high-antioxidant spice blend is incorporated into the meal, triglyceride levels may be reduced by as much as 30 percent when compared to eating an identical meal without the spice blend. The spiced meal included garlic powder, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, turmeric, ginger and black pepper. The role of turmeric in brain health is protecting against cognitive decline associated with aging. The role of ginger is it is good for digestive issues (nausea and others) along with its role in reducing pain.