I'm sure there are very few of us who think about sitting down to a plate of phytochemicals or antioxidants. Yet, if there are fruits or vegetables on your plate, that's exactly what you're doing. The miracle of antioxidants is all contained in the foods found in the produce department of your grocery store.
The most studied antioxidants are the ACE vitamins. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta carotene is found in orange vegetables and fruits (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches, mangoes and papaya) and in dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, parsley, kale and chicory. Beta carotene is part of the carotenoid group, the name given to more than 600 different pigments found in fresh produce. Others include lycopene (responsible for the red coloring of tomatoes, watermelons and pink grapefruit), and lutein (present in dark-green leafy vegetables and some yellow vegetables).
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, rosehips, cantaloupe, strawberries kiwifruit, pineapples, tomatoes, potatoes, dark leafy greens, red and green peepers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin E is found in avocados, whole grains, nuts, olives, seeds, wheat germ and vegetable oils.
Other phytonutrients and their benefits are: Flavonoids that fight oxidation and formation of blood clots and are found in apples, citrus fruits, cranberries, grapes, broccoli, celery, onions, chocolate, red wine and tea. Allyl sulfides may reduce blood cholesterol levels and help liver detoxify cancer promoting chemicals. They are found in chives, garlic, leeks, and onions. Isothiocyanantes may block carcinogens from damaging a cell's DNA and are found in broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Indoles may convert estrogen into less cancerous agents and are found in broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
Now that science has discovered the benefits of plant foods, many researchers are trying to isolate the active ingredients and make "nutriceuticals." But if we take a beta-carotene supplement, we miss out on alpha-carotene and the 600 or so other carotenoids. If we take a lycopene supplement, we don't get the lutein, zeaxanthin, quercitin, etc., etc., etc. What we need is a wide variety of fresh foods that contain all these wonderful nutrients.
Eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants. Top your cereal with almonds or berries, add tomatoes to sandwiches, soups or stews, layer your whole grain bread sandwich with slices of peppers and fresh spinach. Pack a snack bag of nuts, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and bell pepper slices for a nutritious pick-me-up between meals. It's easy to add variety to your diet. Explore the produce section of your market and try new things.
In my experience, helping people change their eating habits is one of the most difficult things to do. Those who make the change often see amazing results. Unfortunately, many people can't or won't do it. Some of us just don't like fruits and veggies. Others have trouble digesting some of them. Diabetics and dieters often shy away from them… especially fruit juices because of the higher sugar content. There is always room for improvement in our health and in our habits…let’s use the next few weeks to make some real changes for the better.
Next week: March is National Nutrition Month
Disclaimer: Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published trade books. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. Consult your health care provider for your specific medical needs. For any questions, comments or suggestions contact Maryella at email@example.com or www.maryellajuiceplus.com