ANTIOXIDANTS: EAT THE RAINBOW
Ok, so I have a small confession here, some would say that I get a leeeetle bit over-excited about colour combos on my plate, to me it’s like unique art that I can eat, what’s not to get excited about? Especially the way the creams and juices swirl together as the fork combs the canvas, every mouthful leaves a different pattern… just me? Ok, back to the point of this article – introducing those celebrity heroes – Antioxidants. They are all the rage in the health world recently. And, justifiably so. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals which cause cell damage, which ultimately can lead to diseases of the heart and cancers. It seems everywhere you go it’s blueberry this and pomegranate that. You have your choice of wild blueberry juice, blueberry-pomegranate juice, blueberry-cranberry juice, and on it goes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I could merrily munch on blueberries all day. But, in our rush to embrace the latest antioxidant food craze (blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates) we’re ignoring some very high-antioxidant foods that might be gathering dust on our shelves.
“What?” You ask, “What could possibly be higher in antioxidants than my beloved wild blueberry?” Well, how about the humble small red bean? Yes, indeedy I’m talking about a “bean.” The small red bean actually has more antioxidants per serving size than the wild blueberry. And the red kidney bean and pinto bean have more antioxidants per serving size than a serving of cultivated blueberries.
OK, so have I sparked your interest in these underdogs…? Well let’s dig in… for starters, there are artichoke hearts, blackberries, prunes, pecans, spinach, kale, russet potatoes, and plums. And, yes, you read me right. Russet potatoes pack a real punch in the antioxidant department.
Here’s the thing, there are many accessible antioxidant-rich foods, it would be a crime to restrict yourself to any one source in particular. Why? Well, have you ever heard the expression, “eat the rainbow”? And no, I don’t mean a handful of colourful skittles. These colours that I hope fill your plates are members of different color “families” containing different types of antioxidants which have different benefits. For example, the yellow-orange color family of peaches and nectarines help our immune systems. The purple-red color family of foods (pomegranates, plums, berries) helps reduce inflammation. It’s important to eat foods from all color groups to reap the full benefits of a wide range of antioxidants.
The good news is that you can eat your fair share of healthy foods high in antioxidants the good old-fashioned way, raw, juiced, or cooked with love in your kitchen (ideally steamed – see article on this). There is no high price tag for the “flavor of the month” antioxidant juices being peddled in the supermarkets, you can get your daily dose at home, on a dime and without the extra sugars that often come with marketed juices.
So, how about we give your blueberries some company at the table? Invite some beans, spinach, potatoes and artichoke hearts to the party, these vegetables are a real gift to your body, they will provide much-celebrated cavalry for your immune system army too.