Antioxidants and ‘Superfoods’

For a food to be termed ‘superfood’, it must hit the top of the list of foods that have a high content of nutrients and antioxidants. Antioxidants stop the damaging effects of free radicals that are formed on exposure to substances such as alcohol, stress, poor diet, highly processed and refined foods, drugs, medications, smog, chemicals, radiation, and free radicals are also formed during normal physiological processes such as fighting infections. Free radicals can make us feel flat, sluggish and tired. They also impair our immune system, increase inflammation and reduce our general health, which can lead to disease and illnesses such as cancer.

The antioxidant values in foods are measured using a ORAC level (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity), for example goji berries have approximately ten times the ORAC level than standard berries, and garlic has approximately four times the ORAC level than onion.

Foods with a high ORAC value help your body reduce oxidative damage, inflammation, and are also anti-aging. Antioxidants provide antibacterial, antiviral and digestive supportive – so consuming these foods every day as part of a balanced diet reduces your risk of cancer, increases your energy, immune system, helps reduce cholesterol and supports your digestive health.

Still confused about what foods to eat? Here is a simple guide.…

Acai

Highest concentration of antioxidants (anthocynanins), amino acids (protein), essential fatty acids, vitamin E and minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Helps with premature aging thanks to its high monounsaturated oleic acid content. Acai also has anti-inflammatory and anti cancer benefits.
 

Berries

Berries are high in antioxidants (lycopene, anthocynanins and phenolics). They top the list of antioxidants foods, with blueberries containing the highest ORAC. Berries are also rich in vitamin C and fibre. Great for eyes, heart, bladder, skin and may help reduce the risk of cancer.
 

Cacao

High in the antioxidant catechin (also found in green tea), and contains Theobromine & Phenethylamine (PEA– which gives us a feeling of being in love). Also contains minerals such as magnesium – Great for mood and emotional support.
 

Chia seeds

High in Protein, Omega-3, soluble and insoluble fibre. A tablespoon of chia a day will help to balance blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, improve heart health, the appearance of skin and nails, and will aid digestion.
 

Coconut Oil

Antifungal, antibacterial, rich in medium chain fatty acids for great cholesterol support. Has a high smoke point, so one of the best oils to use in cooking.
 

Fish

Excellent source of complete protein and omega-3. Fish contains 80% NPU (net protein utilization), whereas meat is 67%. Omega-3 helps lower cholesterol, and is utilized in the brain, nervous system, skin, eyes and for growth. For omega-3 benefits consume oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and herring. For best results buy wild caught over farmed.
 

Goji Berries

Goji berries contain the plant sterol betasitosterol that inhibits cholesterol absorption and a cerebroside that acts to protect the liver. Goji berry also has high levels of the carotenoid called zeaxanthin, which protects the retina in the eyes.
 

Kale & Green Leafy Vegetables

Kale is a member of the brassica family (often referred to as a cruciferous vegetable along with – broccoli, cabbage & brussel sprouts). Kale is an exceptional source of chlorophyll, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin A. It is also a sulphar containing vegetable, and has the highest content of the health promoting phytochemical sulforaphane indole-3-carbinol, which studies have revealed helps liver function, detoxification and can protect against prostate and colon cancers.

Green leafy vegetables are abundant in folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, iron, beta-carotene and vitamin C
 

Maca

Maca is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, sodium, and iron and contains trace minerals including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, manganese, and silicon. It is also rich in vitamins B1, B2, C and E and contains antioxidants, such as catechins (found in green tea) and sterols found in Echinacea. Peruvians have used maca for centuries to promote endurance, stamina and to enhance sexual desire.
 

Nuts (almonds, brazils, cashews, walnuts)

Nuts (not peanuts) contain magnesium, calcium, iron, proteins, fibre, and essential oils. A palmful of nuts are great as a daily snack and help lower cholesterol, keep blood sugar levels balanced and stabilise mood.
 

Spirulina

This green superfood contains an abundance of nutrients from a microscopic fresh water plant. It’s a rich source of protein (65% of its weight & 300 times that of fish, poultry and meat), its rich in iron (58 times that of spinach), and contains antioxidants and chlorophyll (twice that of barley or wheat grass), a cleansing and purifying agent. Spirulina is nutritious, aids weight loss and is packed full of nutrients to keep your immune system healthy.