Got Antioxidants?

There are 8,000 different varieties of antioxidants that your body thrives on.  The best thing to do to ensure that you have sufficient levels of antioxidants in your body is to eat a variety of different colored produce and other plant-based foods.  However, as discussed in last week’s post, there are plenty of options beyond the ordinary fruits and vegetables that contain these vital nutrients.  Here is a list of some antioxidant-rich food choices:

1.  Green Tea

Scottish researchers have discovered that compounds known as flavanoids inside green tea actually compressed and contracted tumors in lab tests.  Along with green tea’s cancer preventing properties, it is also known to decrease your risk of coronary heart disease.  In addition, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that drinking green tea aided adults over the age of 65 in staying more independent and fully functioning.  Finally, there is conclusive evidence that states green tea helps people to lose weight…so pinky’s up everybody!

2.  Dark Chocolate

Can you imagine that?  Dark chocolate is delicious AND nutritious!  As you may know, chocolate is made out of cocoa beans.  These cocoa beans  are picked off of cacao trees and are rich in plant nutrients.  Hence, dark chocolate contains  many antioxidants because this type of chocolate contains the highest amount of cocoa solids.  Like green tea, dark chocolate is also heart healthy.  In fact, research indicates that the cocoa in dark chocolate can decrease your risk of heart disease.  This claim is fully supported by the results of an experiment Dutch researchers conducted that was published in 2006.  In their study, the researchers split a group of 470 elderly males in half based on their cocoa intake and tracked their consumption of cocoa for 15 years.  In the end, it was discovered that the men who had eaten the most cocoa cut their chances of dying from heart disease in half!  I think that that is reason enough to eat chocolate!

3.  Grass Fed Beef

Grass fed beef comes from animals that haven’t been fed grains and byproducts their entire lives.  Instead, they are allowed to roam the fields and consume a vast variety of different grasses and plants.  The benefits to consuming grass fed beef are immense: these types of products contain both Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and a balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids.  CLA levels are much higher in grass fed beef and this acid has been proven to prevent cancer, diabetes, and clogged arteries.  A healthy and balanced lifestyle should consist of an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio no greater than 4:1.  Ratios greater than this can lead to cancer, heart disease, asthma, and arthritis.  While grass fed beef has a 3:1 ratio of Omegas, industrial beef has a ratio of 21:1…hard to believe!

4.  Legumes

Legumes are wonderful options because they contain lots of calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, protein, and zinc.  You may be surprised to know that gram-per-gram, red beans actually offer more antioxidants than blueberries!  If you’re trying to incorporate more legumes into your diet, one of the best things to do to ease yourself into it is to substitute them in your favorite recipes.  For example, instead of adding all of the meat a recipe calls for, split the amount evenly between the legumes and the meat.  Another way to expand your antioxidant horizons is to add legumes to your favorite soups and stews.  The more crunchy texture of legumes can pair nicely with the smooth consistency of soup.

Fun Fact: Peanuts aren’t nuts, in fact, they’re a type of legume!

5.  Tomatoes

Tomatoes are excellent sources of the antioxidant lycopene, which is more potent in cooked tomatoes than in raw.  Have you ever tried heirloom tomatoes?  These become more abundantly available as we approach springtime.  My personal favorites are Green Zebra and Sun Gold.  Try heirloom tomatoes in your garden this year!

6.  Whole Grains

Whole grains include Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that improves the immune system as well as a host of health conditions.  Pick up your daily dose of Vitamin E through whole grain breads, crackers, or rices.

Try to incorporate these and other antioxidant rich foods into your diet.  Let me know if you find any new favorites!

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

References

M Kristen. FoodRegenade. Food Regenade. 2013. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.

Masters, Maria. NBCNews. N.P. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

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