You’ve heard the argument for getting your 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but maybe you need another reason to choose an apple over a Snickers bar and steamed veggies over buttered bread. In addition to weight loss, clearer skin, and a better feeling body, fruits and vegetables contain natural antioxidants that fight aging. The free radical theory of aging states that we age because our cells accumulate free radical damage from exposure to smoking, air pollutants, the sun, and chemicals. To fight premature aging of the cells you can eat foods high in antioxidants that counteract and fight free radicals.
Next time you go shopping toss these antioxidant rich foods in your basket and eat to good health!
This tree-like veggie is known in the health community for providing the most concentrated source of vitamin C, a premier antioxidant nutrient. Vitamin C provides support of the body’s oxygen metabolism and lowers the risk of chronic inflammation and cancer risk. If that wasn’t enough, broccoli contains several carotenoids, which function as key antioxidants.
You may skip over these fruits, but apricots pack a powerful punch of antioxidants including carotenoids and vitamin A, which is needed for cell growth and immune system function. This fruit is also good for your vision, full of potassium, and contains a healthy serving of fiber.
These fruits may already be your favorite topping for yogurt and granola or a sweet treat after dinner, but these small berries provide the body with specific antioxidants that can’t be found in any other food. In addition to high levels of vitamin C and anthocanines, raspberries contain ellagitannins, which make up 50 percent of a raspberries antioxidant effect.
This tiny fruit is packed full of queritrin and ellagic acid, which fight off the body’s cancerous cells to prevent cancer from developing. Try to eat an organic version of this fruit or drink cherry juice for your daily dose of these cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Contrary to the popular belief that this water-packed summer treat is made up of only water and sugar, watermelon is actually a nutrient dense food that is full of antioxidants. This melon is full of vitamin C and lycopene, which is associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
This yummy vegetable contains some of the most powerful, polyphenol antioxidants including quercetin, which fights against cancer and heart disease, rutin which is anti inflammatory and anti-allergenic, and anthocyanins that help with urinary tract health, memory function, and graceful aging.
Probably one of the most commonly known antioxidant rich foods, these berries do pack a powerful punch of health, especially considering their small size. One cup of natural, wild blueberries contains more antioxidant capacity than 20 other fruits and vegetables. For blueberries their antioxidant power comes from the blue pigment in the berries, which protects against inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, and other degenerative diseases.
This leafy green is already loved for its high levels of fiber, potassium, and multiple vitamins. In addition to being full of healthy goodness, spinach is full of the carotenoids luten and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from damage, fight against cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration.
9. Kidney Beans
You may already love beans as a source of protein, fiber, and nutrients, but kidney beans are also exceptionally rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that helps fight aging and the presence of free radicals in the body.
You may already know that oranges are high in vitamin C, but this particular vitamin is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body. It works to prevent damage inside and outside the cells to prevent colon cancer. In addition it can reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you are new to all this what, you may very well ask, are Super Foods?
Well amongst the better known are blueberries, kale and salmon. No doubt you will have heard countless times about the nutritional benefits of these everyday ingredients, commonly labelled “Super Foods.”
There’s no official scientific definition of a Super Food, but it’s generally accepted that Super Foods contain high levels of much-needed vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease.
While there are a number of common foods that provide these nutrients, there is also an array of more exotic and less mainstream Super foods that are worth getting to know. These include Kefir, Acai, Maca and mangosteens but more about these next week.
Today we are going to focus on one of the best known and loved Super foods the Avocado.
As super foods go, they don’t come much more versatile than the avocado. The soft, creamy consistency and the mild, nutty flavour pair with just about anything, adding a generous portion of healthy fats, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin K and folate to your plate. Delicious at breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snack time, it’s little wonder that avocados are one of the most popular and widely grown fruits around the world.
To celebrate the avocado in all it’s smooth, buttery glory, here’s a list of 16 ways to use them.
1. On their own, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of Himalayan Salt. An excellent energy boosting snack!
2. Paired with scrambled eggs and bacon for a classic paleo breakfast!
3. With tomatoes: Avocados and tomatoes pair exceptionally well together, and as it turns out, that’s no co-incidence. When paired together, avocados increase the absorption of lycopene, the cancer-preventing antioxidant found in tomatoes. In a study by the University of Ohio, pairing avocado with tomatoes improved lycopene absorption by 400%!
4. Cut into wedges and added to almost any salad
5. Guacamole: Mash two ripe avocados with the juice of half a lime, half a clove crushed garlic, two finely chopped spring onions, one red chilli (optional), salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Ideal for Mexican dishes, burgers and salads!
6. Added to smoothies for extra creaminess
7. Sliced on top of a home-made chilli
8. Coconut crusted avocado fries. Need we say any more?
9. Added to burgers, along with caramelised onions
10. Paired with grilled chicken and a dash of cayenne pepper
11. Avocado pesto: For a twist on the classic pesto, mash a ripe avocado together with pine nuts, fresh basil, a squeeze of lemon and a little garlic.
12. Halved and topped with a generous splash of hot sauce
13. Raw chocolate making: Believe it or not, avocados are fantastic for making healthy desserts – especially those that involve chocolate! Use them in brownies, chocolate mousse, truffles and cakes to add a wonderful creaminess.
14. Avocado ice cream: Blend an avocado, a frozen banana, 200ml coconut milk and a dash of vanilla extract. Leave in the freezer for 3-4 hours, mixing every hour or so. Allow to thaw slightly before serving, topped with fresh berries!
And they’re not just for eating, either…
15. As a face mask: Great for dry and sensitive complexions, avocado face masks are an excellent way to provide your skin with much needed hydration and nutrients. Avocado oil is used in many of the leading anti-aging moisturisers and treatment lotions – but to save yourself some money, use the whole fruit instead! Our favourite avocado face mask combines three tbsp mashed avocado, one tsp raw honey, and one tsp macadamia oil. Apply to face for 10 – 15 minutes once a week for a serious complexion boost!
16. As a hair mask: Avocado is amazing for dry hair. Combine half a mashed avocado with an egg yolk and a tablespoon of olive oil. Massage into hair from root to tip, then leave to set for 30 minutes before rinsing. When avocado is combined with egg yolk and oil, it acts as a humectant, infusing moisture deep into the hair cells.
How do you use your avocados?