Antioxidants for Your Health
What exactly are antioxidants?
Antioxidants have been the rage for quite awhile now, but a lot of people don’t know exactly what they are. Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow down the oxidative damage to our body. When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals which are known to cause damage. Antioxidants act as “free radical scavengers” and help the body prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, and cancer are all contributed by oxidative damage.
Obviously it’s important for us to get these “free radical scavengers” into our bodies each day, especially if we have made exercise a part of our daily routine, which I hope you have.
What foods contain antioxidants?
Lucky for us, the list of foods containing antioxidants is pretty extensive: vegetables, fruits, most nuts, fish & shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic are just a few examples of some great, healthy foods that will get you your daily scavengers.
There are some foods that are particularly high and famous for their free radical destroying abilities. Here are three of the top foods.
Acai is a fruit that grows on the Acai Palm Trees in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil. The Acai berry is small in size (smaller than a grape) and is dark purple in color. Although Acai may be small in size, it is jam packed with antioxidants and amino acids, and is thought to be one of the most nutritional fruits of the Amazon basin. Acai has 10 Times the antioxidant power of red grapes and twice that of blueberries.
With that being said, I am not going to tell you that this fruit is the cure all for everything that ails you. The Acai berry is a wonderful antioxidant and it is a great addition to your healthy meal plan, but it is not a magic potion that will cause the weight loss many make it out to be.
Green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and white tea all come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. All teas from the camellia tea plant are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. Whether it’s green or black, tea has about 8 to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables (although the types of antioxidants are a bit different).You can see how including a cup or 2 of tea can be a great way to get a mega dose of antioxidants into your day.
However, just as people have taken information about the good ‘ol Acai berry too far, they have done the same with green tea. Yes, it is a wonderful addition to any diet, but again, it is not the miracle drink many people make it out to be. Studies have shown that it may have some metabolism increasing effects and assist the body in fat burning but drinking jugs and jugs of it all day is not going to guarantee long term weight loss. One to two cups is more than enough to receive its benefits. We also want to remember that tea does contain caffeine and some people need to be careful with their daily caffeine intake.
The pomegranate is a popular exotic fruit whose origins are from the Middle East and Asia. It is also known as the granada, grenade, and the Chinese apple. Aside from its rich flavor and the number of ways to eat and drink it, studies have shown that pomegranate contains more antioxidants than green tea, cranberries and even red wine.
Pomegranates have also been shown to promote healthy blood pressure levels and low cholesterol. Pomegranates may be especially helpful for men as studies have concluded that it may help prevent prostate cancer and growth.
How can I incorporate these great foods into my daily meal plan?
1. Start your day with one cup of green tea. I say the morning, so the caffeine does not affect your sleep that night. You can sweeten your tea with Stevia, Xylitol, Agave Syrup, or a small amount of raw honey.
2. Eat a pomegranate as your fruit of choice with breakfast, lunch or snack or drink 2-4 ounces of pomegranate juice. I suggest mixing your 2-4 ounces with water and sip alongside one of your meals.
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