Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Taste the rainbow!"

Forget the Skittles for just a second and let's talk antioxidants...

Don't get defensive, now...but we all have lots of bad guys in our bodies that are produced from the every day toxins we ingest, inhale, absorb, etc. -- everything from gas emissions to cigarette smoke to alcohol. And as health-conscious adults, we ought to aim to reduce bad guys as the development of cancer only takes ONE of them. One way to do this includes eating antioxidant-rich foods.

What is an antioxidant? A naturally-produced substance that fights the bad guys (i.e. free radicals) that can damage our cells, leading to conditions such as cancer and heart disease over time. Antioxidant research constitutes a large portion of today's oncology research as both animal and human studies of antioxidants have results supporting the prevention of cancer! This is big stuff, people! Cancer is a leading cause of death world-wide according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the second leading cause of death in America according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Until recently, stroke checked in as the second leading cause of death - cancer rates are on the rise. Sadly, the World Cancer Report confirms this trend. In 2008, they projected cancer to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. by 2010 [1]. Um, that's 6 months away, folks.

We all know Oprah and her bff Dr. Oz - they love to chat about these antioxidant fellers. Let's see how we can get some, too.

Dr. Oz's "Anti-Aging" checklist
Dr. Oz's "favorite" anti-oxidant: blueberries. But, let's diversify some as not every antioxidant is found in a blueberry, Dr. Oz.

Lycopene. Prostate cancer and heart health are the biggies here. Lots of research and strong, strong evidence supporting the red stuff.

- Sources: tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, blood oranges, and tomato products.

Beta-carotene. In addition to cancer prevention, orange/yellow beta-carotene is an immuno-enhancer and has been linked to eye health.

-Sources: carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin, squash, mango, and apricots.

Lutein. Think greens and leafy vegetables for cancer prevention and healthy eyes.

-Sources: spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, etc.

Anthocyanin. You're welcome Dr. Oz. You can find anthocyanin in dark fruits and vegetables in the blue/purple family.

Sources: blueberries, eggplant, purple grapes, blackberries, cherries, and acai (but more on that last one later).

Contrary to Oz, my favorite antioxidant: resveratrol. This, my friends, can be found in red wine. Hey, hey, hey! More on this soon!

I focused heavily on F&V's (fruits and vegetables, for you slower folks) in this blog, however, antioxidants are also found in nuts, grains, and some meat, poultry and fish.

[1] Mulcahy, N. 2008. Medscape Medical News. Cancer to Become Leading Cause of Death Worldwide by 2010.


  1. Love this article! I read a magazine today called Eating Well, and it said how important it is to eat a "rainbow" of colors in regards to fruit and veggies. Especially with the great selection of produce during the summer, there is no excuse! :)

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