Antioxidant Power

What is an Antioxidant?

When oxygen interacts with certain molecules, free radicals are formed. These molecules are unstable and can react with cellular components such as DNA or cell membranes. The damage may cause cells to die or function incorrectly and leave you more vulnerable to disease.

Your body utilizes antioxidants to neutralize the reactions that damage your cells. Antioxidants are not manufactured in the body and must therefore come from food and supplementation.

Learn more about antioxidants and how they work: http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/104/107639.htm
Read articles about antioxidants: http://www.newstarget.com/antioxidant.html

Antioxidants in your Food

In general, the foods highest in antioxidants are the foods with the most vibrant colors. Tomatoes, for instance, contain high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which also gives them their bright color.

A recent study performed by the USDA measured the antioxidant capacity of many common foods. For a list of the top 20 antioxidant rich foods, including serving sizes and antioxidant potential, click here.

Cooking antioxidant rich foods impacts the amount of antioxidants your body absorbs in the process. Wild blueberries, for instance, are very high in antioxidants, but when cooked into a pie, most of the antioxidant potential dissipates. However, while fresh raw tomatoes contain a moderate level of antioxidants, their absorption values for antioxidants shoot up when cooked.

Organic fruits and vegetables provide the most potent sources of antioxidants. Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers have contributed to the decline of nutrient density in many of today's mass produced commercially farmed foods. As this decline continues, supplements are an excellent way to increase your body's antioxidant reserves to combat disease.

Beneficial Beans

Beans came out on the top of the USDA antioxidant list—three out of the top five foods are beans. This is good news, because we already know that beans are naturally low in fat and contain healthy levels of fiber and protein. Did you know that beans also provide calcium, iron, folic acid and potassium?

Nutritional highlights on most popular varieties of beans: http://www.dolenutrition.com/articleDetails.aspx?RecId=687

Ray & Terry recommend including legumes (including peas, beans, lentils) as part of a healthy diet. Although legumes do have high amounts of carbs, they have a low glycemic load, so they are digested and released into the blood slowly.

To learn more about the health benefits of popular bean varieties, visit the World's Healthiest Foods site: http://www.whfoods.com/foodstoc.php