Natural sources of antioxidants
I have written about the common antioxidants and I intend to present specific sources of them this week to help improve our diet. No matter how little, I believe that including these raw foods in your diet will bring about a lot more positive changes in your life. Not only that, as you begin to see these changes, you will be encouraged to do more. Doing more will definitely lead to prevention of those diseases that are caused by free radical-induced oxidative stress.Sources of common antioxidants and mineral co-factors
1. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Sources: Citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, pawpaw and mangoes. Brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Red and green peppers also contain vitamin c.
2. Vitamin E
This vitamin protects against heart disease, cancer and age related conditions such as macular degeneration. It also plays a significant role in testosterone production and spermatozoa maturation. It is a must use for men with low sperm count and reduced libido. Plant sources of vitamin E include; leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens. Nuts, almonds: pistachios, pecans, walnuts and hazel nuts.
Seeds: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed and sesame seed.
Seafoods/fish: shellfish, shrimps, cray fish, oysters, salmon and herring.
Oils: olive oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, canola and corn oil.
3. Vitamin A (beta carotene)
This is a fat soluble vitamin, a powerful antioxidant that operates optimally in the fat laden cell membrane. Vitamin A is required for vision and as an immune booster. It can also enhance skin health and acts as a protection against cancer and aging.
Sources of vitamin A include: vegetables – carrots, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, Mustard greens, Collard greens, Turnip greens, beet greens and broccoli. Other types of vegetables that are high in vitamin A are Romaine lettuce, pumpkin, sweet red, yellow and green peppers and peas.
Fruits that contain vitamin A are mango, paw paw (papaya), cantaloupe melon, dried apricots and squash.Fish/seafoods sources of vitamin A are cod liver oil, tuna, mackerel and oysters.
The antioxidant enzyme defence system
The enzymes that make up this defence system are superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase. These enzymes are usually produced in the body and because they are proteins, amino acids, which are building blocks of proteins are essential in their production. Significantly, are the trace elements which act as co-factors in the chemical reactions catalyzed by these enzymes. These trace minerals are copper, zinc and magnesium for superoxide dismutase, selenium for glutathione peroxidase and iron for catalase. These co-factors are also limiting factors for the completion and rate of the chemical reactions. In other words, in the absence of these co-factors, the chemical reactions catalyzed by the different enzymes will be hindered. These are reactions that seek to either neutralize free radicals or transform them into less harmful or harmless elements or compounds. If these minerals are deficient, there will be accumulation of free radicals and wide spread destruction of tissues of the body by oxidative stress.
Sources of trace minerals
Sources: Cocoa, whole grains, wheat bran, sunflower seeds and cashew nuts. Others are seafoods and organ meat.
Sources: Oysters, red meat, groundnuts, almonds, chickpeas, dairy products, such as milk and cheese.
Sources: Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, avocadoes, bananas, black eyed Peas, lima beans and soybeans.
Sources: Leafy green vegetables, soy foods, meat, chicken, eggs and beans.
Sources: Tuna, shrimps, salmon, sardines, cod, chicken, turkey, asparagus, barley and brown rice. Other sources are flaxseed, spinach, cabbage, garlic and broccoli.
Leafy green vegetables
I have made mention of the leafy green vegetables above and here are some of such vegetables:
Romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli and collard greens. Others in this group are turnip greens, water cress, dandelion and chickweed.
These vegetables and more are packed full with vitamins and mineral antioxidants. There are other minerals in them together with chlorophyll that alkalizes the system and fibre that keeps the colon in perfect health all the time. The leafy green vegetables can be eaten raw in salads or steamed for optimal health. These should be eaten as often as daily.
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