Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –

Why it matters that you have an antioxidant rich diet…

The greatest long-term risks to our health are from chronic and progressive degenerative diseases (rather than an infection or insufficiency). To battle cancer, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration and cataracts you’ll need a host of oxidative stress fighters commonly known as antioxidants. A nutrient-rich plant-based diet, plus seafood, will provide the majority of the antioxidants you need to stay healthy.

There isn’t a separate set of oxidation fighters. Really, certain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals act to off-set free radical scavengers by sacrificing themselves for oxidation, thus protecting your smooth lining and cell membranes. The micronutrients that battle harmful oxidation from toxins, pollutants and carcinogens include beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Zinc, coenzyme Q10, glutathione, polyphenols and flavonols.

Don’t go by the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale alone. While it indicates a food’s antioxidant capacity in a test tube, it hasn’t proven useful to evaluate effectiveness in the human body. The USDA indicates “antioxidant molecules in food have a wide range of functions, many of which are unrelated to the ability to absorb free radicals.”

Foods to choose from include: cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, nuts, seeds, beans, berries, citrus fruit, plums, pomegranate, tomatoes, artichoke, avocado, broccoli, carrots, peppers, spinach, sweet potato, wheat germ, whole grains, eggs, shrimp, scallops, salmon, tuna, poultry, grass-fed beef, tea, red wine and dark chocolate.

Theoretically, having healthier cells means better functioning and more efficient energy metabolism. While no direct correlation is identified between most antioxidants and weight control or fat metabolism in humans, green tea has proven to be effective.

Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.


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