Adding Antioxidants to Your Diet
Live longer with an antioxidant rich diet.
Antioxidants are added to hundreds of foods and supplements in an effort to make them seem "better" for you. Americans are buying Rice Krispies cereal and drinks like Cherry 7-Up in the misguided belief that tiny amounts of added vitamins can somehow counter the effect of nutritionally empty food.
You're being lied to. In 2007 researchers discovered that antioxidants in supplement form don't provide any health advantages. What's worse, they found that people who took supplements of beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E; died sooner than those who took a placebo. Paying for the privilege of dying quicker doesn't seem like a good idea.
Here's the good news.
Antioxidants in food have been proven to be good for you and can extend your life. Eating fruits, vegetables and grassfed meats help your body fight the damage caused by free radicals. It's all in the choices you make. This is how to do it.
Start by selecting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants in foods aren't all identical, there are thousands of varieties. They're different because the free radicals they neutralize are also different. Foods that help one part of the body won't help another, so you've got to mix it up.
The next thing you need to do is avoid getting hung up on "superfoods." According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the food you consume should have 3,000 units of ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) daily. ORAC is a measure of how much antioxidants are in food. But you don't have to eat exotic stuff like goji berries or Açaí to get it.
A single half cup of blackberries has more than 3,500 units in it. A Fuji apple has 2,589 units. 3.5 ounces of Brussels sprouts has 980 units and1.5 ounces of chocolate syrup has an incredible 2,690 units! Five servings of fruit and vegetables a day will give you more than the recommended amount.
Experiment a little and pick up things you've never made before. I have a habit of buying one new fruit or vegetable each time I go to the supermarket. I ask the produce manager how they should be prepared and savor something new. I've loved some of them and hated others.
The big advantage now is when I walk into the produce section, instead of the same 5 choices I had the first 40 years of my life, I'm now comfortable making dozens of tempting dishes. But I would never have known if I hadn't given it a try.
While you're picking out the good stuff, you must avoid the bad. Some foods are actually loaded with free radicals (the bad stuff) that can cause problems. Anything deep fried, charred meats and products treated with nitrates like bacon should all be skipped or eaten sparingly. Foods cooked at higher temperatures also tend to be higher in free radicals.
That doesn't mean you can't have a burger once in awhile, but if you do you should top it with antioxidant rich spinach, onion and tomatoes. Cover it with a whole wheat bun and put some fresh veggies on the side.
Another thing you should avoid are fruit juices. Many people are under the mistaken belief that the sugar from fruit juice is somehow different than sugar from soda. It's not. Your body processes sugar from fruit (fructose), sugar from cane (sucrose) and sugar from milk (lactose) exactly the same.
A balanced diet includes 45-60 grams of TOTAL sugar a day. A single 12 ounce glass of orange juice has half your day's supply, 30 grams of sugar. Compare that to a medium orange, which has only 12 grams of sugar. Plus the act of peeling the orange and savoring each slice, slows you down. A glass of juice just doesn't give the same satisfaction. Get your fruit whole, not in a glass.
It's all about choices and balance.
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