“Our food should be our medicine.
Our medicine should be our food.”
Anyone who has ever seen a food pyramid knows that fruits and vegetables take up a large portion of our recommended daily diet. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) however only 10-12% of us are getting the recommended daily intake, which is 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit. Fruits and vegetables are good for us, hence the reason from an early age our parents are urging us to eat them, even when we didn’t want to. One of the reasons why is because they contain immune boosting antioxidants.
Antioxidants prevent or slow the damage to healthy cells by free radicals, or problematic cells that are formed through every day exposure to pollution, UV rays from the sun and smoke. Our bodies also create free radicals when we are sick or fighting a disease. Damage done by free radicals to healthy cells can possibly lead to cancer, heart disease and stroke. Our bodies naturally produce antioxidants to help fight off these free radicals but as we age we produce less. Luckily, we can get these antioxidants from an outside source through our daily diet.
Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is the term used to measure the antioxidant capacity in different foods. There have been mixed studies and opinions on the value of ORAC when it comes to which foods have the most and the benefits they truly have on our health. Nevertheless, it’s always important to consume well-balanced meals as often as possible and change up your fruits and vegetables frequently. Variety is key and the more colorful your plate the better!
Fruits and vegetables are the best way to get your antioxidants because they also provide other substances to keep you healthy including fiber, protein and potassium, among other things. There are a variety of types of antioxidants including beta-carotene, vitamins C, E, and A, lycopene, lutein, lycopene, flavonoids and polyphenols. Foods to look out for that have high-antioxidants are berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, maqui and acai berries, and the list goes on), beans, pomegranates, apples, cherries, pears, avocados, kiwi, pineapple, artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, red and white potatoes with the skin and kale. WebMD.com has a great list of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.
Check out websites Sustainable Table to see which fruits and vegetables are in season where you live to help reduce your carbon footprint. Lucky for us there are tons of delicious produce in season during the warm summer months so get creative with fruits and vegetables you haven’t tried before. If you don’t necessarily love fruits and vegetables and are looking for some recipe ideas, check out our recipe section for some delicious options. You can also mix in other high-antioxidant powered foods like nuts and whole grains into your meals to further balance your diet. A nice glass of red wine and dark chocolate are the perfect way to finish off a high antioxidant meal – in moderation of course!