The Power of Antioxidants for Staying Young

Everyone wants to grow old gracefully. Some go under the knife to get that youthful look while others opt for a more natural way to maintain that healthful glow. The way to make peace with age can be found in the types of foods that we eat and the miracle ingredient they contain.

This hidden “miracle” is called antioxidants. They have graced the pages of magazines, medical journals and every product from hand cream to supplement pills. But what are antioxidants and what can they do to keep you looking your best?

Antioxidants are substances that fight the aging process that goes on in your body. They are not produced by the body so to get the benefit of these power-packed substances you must ingest them. A variety of foods contain antioxidants.

Let’s go back to the beginning. The body continually replenishes its cells. Through a process called cellular metabolism, the body produces energy, more cells and repairs any damage. One by-product of cellular metabolism is unstable molecules called free radicals.

Free radicals are molecules that damage your body. They are unstable because they are missing an electron. To get another one and become stable, free radicals will steal electrons from cells. That theft damages the cells in a variety of ways.

The results are visible and invisible changes to our bodies. The development of diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and neurological deficiencies may begin to affect you as you age. Also, thinner skin wrinkles and brittle bones are a problem. Free radicals enter our body from outside sources as well: cigarette smoke, radiation and the sun’s UV rays. The more free radicals we encounter, the greater the damage that can be done.

Antioxidants have been shown to be of great help in the free radical problem. Antioxidant substances combine with free radicals and neutralize them. Once they are neutralized, they can no longer do any damage. Scientists don’t have any idea of a recommended daily dose of antioxidants to correct free radical damage and the diseases that come with age, but they do know that eating foods rich in antioxidants makes a huge difference in how we live.

Where do you find antioxidants? They are all around us. Look no further than your local farmer’s market or produce aisle in the grocery store. Fruits and vegetables contain the principle sources of antioxidants.

Examples of antioxidants include:
* Vitamin C
* Vitamin A
* Vitamin E
* Lutein
* Lycopene
* Beta-carotene

Certain minerals like zinc and selenium also function in the body. They are not antioxidants but they boost the immune system to fight against free radical damage.

Antioxidants are also found in nuts, legumes, cold water fish, seafood and red meat. So, eating a varied diet of fruits, vegetables and the foods just named will increase the amount of antioxidants in your system and help reduce the incidence of disease. Eating fruits and vegetables in their natural form instead of juices brings the benefit of other nutrients found in the foods. Juices also contain a lot of sugar that is not needed by your body.

Food does more than stave off hunger. Natural substances found there can cause us to live longer and stay free of disease as we age.

So, what are my top ten superfoods?

 Top Ten Power Packed Foods

What is the secret to a long and healthy life? It is in the food that we eat. As you well know, all foods are not created equal. Choosing and eating the right foods may help increase your life expectancy as well as the quality of your life.

Here are ten of the top power packed foods designed to give you energy, vitality and all around good health!

1. Beans – If they give you gas, take precautions before you eat them. Soaking them first can help. Beans of all kinds (kidney, navy, lentils, chickpeas, Northern) are high in protein. This is plant protein so it contains very little fat, carbs and calories. If fiber is a problem in your diet, eating a healthy portion of beans each day can keep your digestive system healthy.

2. Oats and Oatmeal – Oatmeal is coming into popularity as a food that lowers blood cholesterol. You can make it yourself with rolled oats or eat the instant kind if you are in a hurry. Oatmeal is a filling grain that also provides much needed fiber to keep hunger at bay and your blood sugar constant.

3. Fruits – Fruits are filled with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and A. Antioxidants fight free radical damage in the body and reduce the risk of cancer. Berries such as blueberries and grapes have the highest amount of antioxidants. But choose an array of fruits in a wide variety of colors for maximum health. The antioxidants in fruit boost the immune system to fight the effects of aging in the body.

4. Allium foods – This class of foods includes garlic, onions, leeks and shallots. Garlic is known for lowering cholesterol. Allium vegetables help guard the body against the risk of cancer and many other ailments. They also help lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. Eating these power packed vegetables in their natural state especially garlic increases their health benefits.

5. Salmon – Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of heart disease and other conditions like atherosclerosis. Wild salmon is a fatty fish but it contains good fats that have been proven to improve health in children and adults. Salmon is rich in protein which is of great use after an exercise session to build muscle tissue.

6. Flax seed – Like salmon it contains omega-3 fatty acids. These seeds also contain omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. You get a lot of power to fight high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes with this seed. Ground flax seed can be added to fruit smoothies, sprinkled in yogurt, eaten with cereal or added to porridge.

7. Peppers – Peppers are colorful. They contain antioxidants like beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Peppers range from mild and sweet to so hot you’ll be calling the fire department. All peppers contain a substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin has the properties of an anti-inflammatory, a pain reliever, lowers cancer risk and heart disease. They are good in salads, salsa and all sorts of dishes.

8. Nuts and seeds – Nuts are high in fat but those fats are the good kind. Peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and pistachios are all providers of good fats and protein. Crush them into a fine powder and use as a coating instead of higher carb bread crumbs. Nuts help to lower cholesterol. Eat them right out of the shell with no additives.

9. Açai – This berry has been in the news lately. It is rich in antioxidants and increases energy. You can get more done and look better while doing it. You can get Acai juice and supplements in your health food store.

10. Sprouted beans and seeds – As I discussed last week, sprouted beans and seeds are full of enzymes and amino acids are a complete food. Easy to grow and fun to eat.

Building a better healthier body begins with what you eat. Try these super foods to get started on the right foot.

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