The next time you are in a supermarket, spend more time along the produce aisle if you wish to strengthen your body’s defenses and boost your overall health! Experts tell us that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help us ward off infections like colds and flu. That’s because these super foods contain immune-boosting antioxidants. We all need to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants for optimal health and wellness.
Adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind (preferably those that are organically-grown, without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers) to your diet will definitely improve your health.
Some foods are higher in antioxidant power than others.
The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You'll find them in colourful fruits and vegetables - especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed; don’t overcook or boil or you will damage the living nutrients in them.
What are antioxidants? By definition, antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals, and they can help prevent the effects of free radical damage in our bodies. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. In other words, antioxidants neutralise the process of oxidation and cellular damage, which contributes to aging and disease.
Many experts believe free- radical damage plays a part in a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere with our immune systems. So, fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep your immune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections.
So, don’t wait, nourish your body with these super foods high in anti-oxidant goodness...ther'’s so much to choose from. Incidentally, foods high in antioxidants are also high in fiber, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and are good sources of other vitamins and minerals:
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon
Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes
Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds
Other super foods that are rich in antioxidants include:
- All berries
- Red grapes
- Alfalfa sprouts
Vitamins aren't the only antioxidants in food. Other antioxidants that may help boost immunity include these essential minerals:
- Zinc: Found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products
- Selenium: Found in most nuts, tuna, beef, poultry and fortified breads, and other grain products
Contributed by: Sally May Tan
Nutrition Warrior, Health Coach, Entrepreneur
Sources cited: Mayo Clinic, WebMD and CanadianLiving.com