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Antioxidants: The Fight Against Free Radicals

By Posthappy     Aug 17, 2007 in Food
They are in season, right now at your local grocery store. In this day and age when some foods seems to be killing us, why not do something good for your body? After all you are what you eat, right?
If you had a choice between junk food and healthy food, most people often choose the junky stuff, the "bad" stuff and the stuff that makes you fat. Usually this is because they "taste so much better" while making resistance futile.
Everyday we are faced with choices, so why not choose, at least once in a while anyway, something that will make you feel good, possible look better and help stave off some of the diseases that plague our society?
This is where antioxidants come in. We have seen them in beauty products and now even added to bottled waters, things like Aloe Vera, Green Tea, Pomegranate and blueberries all provide antioxidants, but what are they and what do they do?
Medline Plus describes them as this:
Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Antioxidant substances include: Beta-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Antioxidants are found in many foods, foods that we should be eating daily. We all know that fruits and vegetable, preferably leafy greens are the best sources of almost everything that is good for you. Other antioxidant rich foods include nuts, grains, some meats, poultry and fish. Sometimes just adding one extra serving of any of these foods a day will tremendously help your body fight off the free radicals that are all around us.
At the National Cancer Institute you can find many different studies relating to antioxidants and cancer, both with positive and negative results, but as most people would think, "If I can just add/change one thing in my diet, it just may help."
There are many trials being conducted on the affects of antioxidants and just about every condition known to mankind. Why not add some good stuff to your diet that is fresh from the fields and feel good about what your eating at the same time?
Here are three recipes, provided by by Jennifer Gruden of to get you started:
Power packed pomegranate salad
Pomegranates are known for their antioxidant punch, which has fueled pomegranate juice sales in North America and around the world. But the seeds may have benefits the juice doesn't. A Technion-Israel Institute of Technology research team presented a study in June 2001 which indicated that pomegranate seed oil triggers apoptosis -- a self-destruct mechanism in breast cancer cells.
This salad combines pomegranate seeds with spinach, a leafy green also rich in antioxidants:
- 1 pound cleaned spinach leaves, tough stems removed
- 3/4 cup diced red onion
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate (approx. 1 cup)
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, or President's Choice brand Honey - Pear Vinaigrette.
Place the spinach in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle on the red onion, parsley, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. Just before serving, dress the salad with either shakes of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or the PC Honey Pear Vinaigrette, to taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.
Serves 4
Blueberry chicken salad
Blueberries have become a part of the anti-cancer arsenal due to the fact that they are the berries richest in anthocyanosides, one of the most powerful antioxidants in the prevention of cancer cell growth. This lunch type salad is a great way to add blueberries into your diet, as well as increasing your consumption of leafy greens and lower-fat meat. Feta cheese and pecans add a decadent feel to the dish.
- 4 cups sliced Belgian endive (about 2 large heads)
- 1 cup gourmet salad greens
- 1 1/2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tbsp chopped pecans, toasted
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Combine first four ingredients in large bowl. Combine vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper; stir with whisk. Add dressing to endive mixture; toss gently. Sprinkle with cheese and pecans.
Yield: 4 servings
Black bean and tomato salad
Beans contain a number of phytochemicals, which have been shown to prevent or slow genetic damage to cells – and may particularly aid in preventing prostate cancer. In addition, the high fiber content of beans has been connected with a lower risk of digestive cancers. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, which has been shown to be especially potent in combating prostate cancer.
- 2 cups corn kernels (about four ears of grilled corn, or use frozen or canned)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 green onions, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine corn, black beans, and tomatoes in a medium bowl. Whisk oil, vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper together. Drizzle over salad and toss until coated.
Frozen Fruits and Buying Local
Finding fresh fruit right off the vine is a lot easier these days than it used to be. Even if they are not in season, most fruits and vegetables are now flash frozen and can still be added to your diet to provide that extra boost. You can find quality frozen foods that taste great and offer the convenience of longer-term storage.
But in the summer when most of these ingredients are in season, why not buy local? Buying local lets you keep your carbon footprint to a minimum while you support the local farmers, thus helping them to stay in business.
Usually being less expensive while in season, you can find fresh fruits and vegetables at farmer's markets or local grocery stores, or you can take a drive in the country (on the way to the cottage or back home) and make your purchases at the roadside stalls.
Nothing will beat the freshness and flavour of in-season produce. All I can say is yummo!
More about Cancer, Antioxidants, Diet