Eating and Drinking Against Oxidative Stress

How do you protect yourself against oxidative stress! Because oxidative stress is a side effect of the body’s detoxification efforts, you can minimize drug, chemical, and toxin exposure in general and in the diet using the strategies: avoid consuming rancid oils (including all partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial chemically processed oils, oils that have been heated too high, and fats in most packaged and processed foods), and seek out sources of antioxidants in your diet. Many of the seasonal foods of summer are very high in antioxidants, in part because plants use antioxidants to protect their flowers and fruits (and their DNA) from oxidative damage, which occurs more in the long, sunny days of summer. What are the best food sources of antioxidants? Berries are a well-known source, particularly strawberries and blueberries, but the less glamorous plum is an even richer source of antioxidants, and so are apples and dried beans, especially those that are dark in color. Most herbs and spices are extremely high in antioxidants, and the category of culinary herbs ranks behind only medicinal herbs in antioxidant power. Culinary amounts of herbs and spices – that is, one half to one teaspoon of many common seasonings – have been found to have a greater amount of antioxidants that average servings of fruits and vegetables.

Other year-round foods that confer antioxidant protection include those rich in vitamin E, the premier antioxidant of the oils, found in fresh nuts and seeds and their cold-pressed oils, freshly ground wheat, and animal products from animals fed their whole lives on grass. While black, white, and green teas have received much press for their high antioxidant content and health value, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet. Tea, chocolate, and red wine all make significant contributions, too. If you drink coffee and tea, be sure to choose organic to avoid pesticide exposure, and grind coffee fresh to maximize the antioxidant content. Red wine has received a lot of press for its high antioxidant content, which varies by variety. Moderate alcohol consumption seems to confer protection from heart disease. Why not just take your antioxidants in supplement form? The preponderance of research on the topic has shown that the antioxidants are best obtained from whole foods, not supplements, and that supplemental antioxidants actually increase incidence in some cases.

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